April 27, 2011

Minor Prophets LXXVIII: Searchlamps

In Zephaniah 1:4-13 we see the same ethical, moral, and religious conditions that we have seen all throughout Judah's history.

(v.4) mentions Baal worship in Jerusalem and it clearly involves their idolatrous priests. They were swearing by the Lord and Molech and they were not seeking the Lord and this was despite official action by Josiah to eliminate it. Pockets of Baalism still existed.

(v.5) “Those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host” is reference to pagan worship. Housetops were flat and were therefore good places for worship and viewing the sky. Astrology and the worship of heavenly bodies in view here. Moses warned against worshipping the “starry host” (Deut. 4:19). These people were seriously messed up in the head. They were quite confused. Not unlike those today that think they can mix what the culture idolizes and the Lord too.

(v.6) Faithless and indifferent is how these folks come off in v.6. They neither seek not ask of Him.

(v.8) Royalty (officials: sarim) and the king’s sons are singled out. They should lead people to righteousness not down the path to sin, evil and destruction. Josiah due to his righteous leadership is exempted but not others. The “foreign clothes” mentioned is more than likely an allusion to the fact that the people were dressing in the styles of other nations and this indicates their first inclination was away from their God and towards the mores and desires of the culture which were leaning more and more towards pagan nations.

(v.9) “On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold” Appears to be a reference to a cult practice that is mentioned in 1 Samuel 5:5 (Longman et al 666) where pagan priests would not step on of a sacrosanct threshold. They fill the temples of their gods with violence and deceit.

(v.12) “…I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs” I actually get a visual here of God with a police searchlight and pinpointing in a beam of light the guilty where they stand. Caught dead to rights, the complacent that are like the bitter waste at the bottom of a bottle of wine.

Are we doing something we shouldn't? Will God's spotlight be turned on us at some point for our infractions? When the light from God comes to bear on us will we be found doing something that will compromise our rewards in heaven? What if we are just called to task and it isn't even our judgment yet? What if we are caught doing something that brings shame not only to ourselves but to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must always consider our actions may not just adversely affect us but those that we love.

So...are you still willing to commit the sin in light of knowing there will be others that you will hurt?

It may not have embarrassed you, will it embarrass others? Bring them shame? Bring a black mark against the Church. Against the name of Christ? Are you prepared to do that? Think before you act people. Eternal lives and salvation of many depend on it. The higher profile you are the more people will see your bad behavior when you crash and burn.

Longman, Tremper, and David E. Garland. "Judgment for Judah" The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel-Malachi . Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2006. 666. Print.

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