THE BAD NEWS FIRST
Those who stay in rebellion to the LORD God are hell-bound. They’re both bound by hell and bound for hell unless they repent and come to faith in the Savior Jesus Christ!
“19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)
I may note, that that passage is from the same book often misused to justify sin, some thinking it gives us freedom to do anything we feel like. That’s a whole other topic.
So I’m giving you this BAD news first, which in the long run, is really good news for the righteous because it is the abolition of the lawlessness that we see rampant in the world today. Please be patient through this heavy part, because the book of Zephaniah, as the Book of Revelation, ends on a happy hope.
Perhaps the warnings of judgment in Zephaniah will be heeded so that some who are hell-bound will repent and turn around!
WHO WILL COME UNDER JUDGMENT?
I personally am not making any judgments here. I am telling you what the Word of God says. Hopefully, the earthly judgment will lead to repentance that the final judgment of hell will be avoided by faith in Jesus Christ.
1. Idolatrous priests “Chemarim” ; pagan priests (v 1:4)
2. those who worship the hosts of heaven (v 1:5)
3. syncretistic worshippers (v 1:5)
4. backsliders (v 1:6)
5. Kings & princes (v 1:8)
6. All such as are clothed with foreign apparel (v 1:8)
7. Those who leap over the threshold – thieves (v 1:9)
8. The violent & deceitful (v 1:9)
9. The complacent (v 1:12)
We can compare this list to the list in the New Testament of those who are denied access to the New Jerusalem.
“Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Rev 22:15)
Errant religious leaders will be judged. “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the LORD.” (Jer 23:1)
I’ve had a couple of dreams from the LORD. Symbolically, they indicated that the Church is infiltrated with idolatrous leaders. Actually, “idolatrous priests” here, is the term, “Chemarim” which translates “black men”, not a racial connotation, but a term for those priests who practicing idolatry, according to the Matthew Henry Commentary.
Many of these wayward leaders have as their heresy that Jesus Christ is NOT Immanuel, God with us, God who clothed Himself with human flesh in order that He could take man’s judgment. These idolatrous priests are introducing lies and heresies into the Church:
LIES, LIES & MORE LIES
1. The LIE that Jesus Christ was a man who became God
2. The LIE that man, too, will become God.
3. The LIE that homosexuality is not abnormal and immoral
4. The LIE that any religion is as good as another, paving the way for the “worldwide religion” of false peace. The LIE that is coming will be promoted as “RECONCILIATION”. Remember that word. It’ll look good and seem right to those not grounded in the Word of God. It’ll taste sweet. It’ll be designed to appeal to the innate compassion in Christians. That’s what will make it so deceptive. But this RECONCILIATION is poisoned. It is a compromise with unrighteousness. What we truly need is to be reconciled to God!
The churches which these idolatrous priests lead will be compromised and thusly come under the judgment of the compromising church Thyatira in Revelation:
“Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works. I will kill her children with Death, and all the assemblies will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Okay. That’s heavy! But the words are those of our loving LORD!
The LORD, in His love, warns us:
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues” (Rev 18:4)
Notice the words. “my people”. These are words of love, warning us.
If you’re in a compromised church, an idolatrous church, or in a so-called church with a homosexual pastor, you had better come out!
Another category of idolators are “those who worship the hosts of heaven” (Zech 1:5) Do you know that God forbids astrology? (Deut 18:9-12) So if you’ve been consulting your daily horoscope, instead of seeking the Lord, you had better repent! But I don’t think this verse is limited to astrologers. The hosts of heaven could include the pantheon of gods and goddesses who were worshipped, any kind of idolatry. Maybe it includes caring more about emulating Hollywood stars than following the God of the universe.
The Israelites had a habit, a bad habit of allowing pagan practices to creep into their religious life. Oh, they worshipped YHWH, the God of Israel, but they also bowed down to the pagan gods. I see too much of what is pagan entering into the church. If God forbid it because it’s link to paganism in the OT, we should not allow it into our worship. We are to worship YHWH alone and Him “in spirit and in truth.” Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you have allowed a pagan practice to come into your life. Many things that you may think are only cultural, many things that seem trendy, many things that are traditional, really have pagan roots. For example, there are these “prayer mazes” or “labyrinths” being built on church property. They have pagan origins. Go google “labyrinth” and you’ll see. Yet, the church naively constructs them because it’s trendy and makes a nice-looking addition to a garden. The LORD says, “Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge…(Isa 5:13). I might add that tattooing is another trend that has pagan roots, pagan roots in a blood rite. Consequently, many fine but naive Christians may have submitted to this pagan blood practice. I’m not saying they’re hell-bound for a mistake in the past. Our sins are under the blood. But a lifestyle of sin may indicate no real repentance. I do not make a judgment on any individual’s heart. No condemnation is meant here. I do pray that church leaders be more discerning and less trendy. We should stop condoning things just because “everyone is doing it”. God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;” (Hosea 4:6)
For expounding on this, please read Jesus’ parable of the foolish virgins (Matt 25) or the letter to the lukewarm Laodicean church in which Christ said He would spew them out of his mouth. (Rev 3:16)
KINGS & PRINCES
Errant political leaders will be judged. I think here, it is understandably a reference to evil rulers, not righteous rulers. The reference may be included because evil rulers tend to think of themselves as above the law. But God will not exempt them in His judgment.
THOSE CLOTHED AS THE HEATHEN
“All such as are clothed with foreign apparel” (v 1:8) My Bible notes that this “foreign apparel” is a “mark of apostasy” for the Jew. God had prescribed clothing for the Jews and it carried spiritual significance. Today, our attire should be respectable and modest (1 Tim 2:9). We should not dress in a way as to become a temptation to others, arousing carnal desires. Consider whether your attire at church is a distraction for someone from their worship of God. Perhaps you never considered these things. That’s why we older folk are here. We’ve seen it all! And the consequences….
“The darkness is getting darker…” (Isa 60:1) We live in a society that is now glorifying death. Should Christian children be wearing symbols of death on their t-shirts, following the world? T-shirts are cultural. Death symbols are pagan. It’s wise to find out what a symbol means before you unknowingly promote the devil’s agenda on your clothing or jewelry. The Word says “do not imitate evil but imitate good.” (3 John 1:11) Having studied much on false religions, I see much of which many are not aware. The enemy has infiltrated the culture, music, media and the church. Pray for discernment that further encroachments are not made into the church. The Word of God says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thes 5:22 KJ) And again, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;” (Hosea 4:6)
On the positive side, we Christians should be clothed with “good works”. Indeed, “fine linen” , the apparel of the Bride of Christ, is equated with “the righteous acts of the saints” in Rev 19: 8.
those who leap over the threshold – This is meaning thieves and looters (v 1:9). We have “legal” looters now. They will be judged for their injustices.
THE VIOLENT & DECEITFUL
The complacent are those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ In other words, they are saying, “He will do nothing.” That pithy insight is from the Matthew Henry Commentary.
Some may say the LORD created the world and then left it to its own devices. Some might say that, but …“Let God be true, and every man a liar” They don’t believe in a God who interacts with His creation. They think we need to fend for ourselves. Their unbelief in a caring Father cuts them off from the grace and mercies of God available through faith!
Some might say the LORD will not “do good” – in other words, the LORD won’t help us through. Therefore, they don’t turn to Him for help. Some might say that, but …“Let God be true, and every man a liar”
Some might say the LORD will not “do evil” – in other words, “God wouldn’t send an earthquake in judgment. God is love.” Some might say that, but …“Let God be true, and every man a liar”
I think I already made the case for New Testament judgments, so I’ll only reiterate this one to the compromising church in Thyatira:
“Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works. I will kill her children with Death, and all the assemblies will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (Rev 2:22-23)
If you’re in a compromising church, may you seek the LORD for guidance because judgment will come to the churches! It is the Word of the LORD.
You may want to heed this warning:
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev 18:4)
God is calling His people out of the Babylonian captivity of the church to a place at His feet, listening to His voice and not the voice of those who would use and abuse God’s people for their own greed and empowerment. The warnings in Revelation show clearly to the wayward churches, that they will experience judgment from God in the last days. Are you ready for some Good News?