In Zephaniah’s time, people were turning toward idols and away from the Lord, and then neither seeking God or inquiring of him any more. This is a good reminder that replacing Jesus with anything puts an idol in the place of the Saviour. Those idols will not save us…
1 The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:
2 “I will sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,”
declares the Lord.
3 “I will sweep away both man and beast;
I will sweep away the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea—
and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”
“When I destroy all mankind
on the face of the earth,”
declares the Lord,
4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all who live in Jerusalem.
I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place,
the very names of the idolatrous priests—
5 those who bow down on the roofs
to worship the starry host,
those who bow down and swear by the Lord
and who also swear by Molek,
6 those who turn back from following the Lord
and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.”
7 Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
for the day of the Lord is near.
The Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who are complacent,
who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing,
either good or bad.’
13 Their wealth will be plundered,
their houses demolished.
Though they build houses,
they will not live in them;
though they plant vineyards,
they will not drink the wine.”
14 The great day of the Lord is near—
near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter;
the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
15 That day will be a day of wrath—
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness—
16 a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the corner towers.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”
Zephaniah 1:1-7, 12-16, 18
Zephaniah is sounding the alarm to Judah: the Lord will bring destruction on his own people and on those who follow idols or worship creation. This sounds to me like the times when the stench of mankind reached God’s nostrils before the flood or before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s displeasure with his creation reaches a limit when people pursue sin and flaunt it before the Lord.
Jerusalem and all of Judah were being tripped up by idols. Baal and Molek were worshiped in the city. People were worshiping the sun, moon, planets, or stars (starry host). People were turning toward these things and away from the Lord, and then neither seeking God or inquiring of him any more. Hmmm… does this sound like your city? It sounds like mine. The secularization of society is on the rise. The turning toward objects and idols – gods of our own making – is replacing the acknowledgement of God and reverence toward him as the one and only true God.
There may be a way for Judah to avoid God’s wrath if they repent (which we will see later in the book). Today, however, God just says (vs. 7), “Be silent!” God is looking for those who are complacent, who think God will do nothing (either good or bad). Their silver and gold will not save them on the day of God’s wrath. Isn’t that the way? Don’t we cling to earthly treasures and comforts – the security of our self-sufficiency – to protect us when we think we might be off side, yet we are too complacent to turn back and toward the Lord?
We need warnings like this. We need to reset ourselves to remember that Jesus came to be the one and only between us and our Father in heaven. Replacing Jesus with anything puts an idol in the place of the Saviour. And once we are in this place, there is nothing that can save us from the Lord if he turns his wrath toward us. There is only one Saviour.
Our silver or gold or the idols we hold dear will not save us. They are man-made and will be left behind in time when we enter eternity.
Is there anything between you and God today?