Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zephaniah for today - Woe to our Nation

I have been reading in the "minor prophets" recently. They are small books that have a big message. Unlike Isaiah or Jeremiah (or perhaps the preacher that is writing at this time!), the minor prophets wrote less. Just because there are fewer words does not make their message any less important.

I couldn't help but think about these words: "Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no corrections. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God." (Zephaniah 3:1-2 ESV) Those words were spoken against Judah generally and Jerusalem specifically. But as I read them, I felt compelled to think not about Judah but about the USA. Could not this be said of our nation? More and more I feel that the prophets are also talking to us today. (No, I do not believe that the United States is the new "promised land." Nor do I believe that the people of the USA are the new "chosen people" of God. That would be a false teaching.) It is as if they were looking through the lens that told them to speak thus for there will be a people living in years to come, who would be in a land far from Israel, that would begin by following the way of the Lord and would end the very same way that Judah was going and ending in their day.

"She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction." How true that is today! Our nation as a whole does what it wants. It does not seek the way of the Lord. And when a prophet speaks out, when a priest cries out the Word of the Lord, she closes her ears. Covering her ears she attacks the prophet/priest and does her best to defile his name, to discredit him personally so that others would not listen to his message. The Christian message of Law and Gospel is blasted, looked down upon, thrown into the pit with the pigs and trampled underfoot. It is treated with no respect. When she is called to repent of her sexual immorality, she laughs. She derides. She speaks against the prophet who brings the word of the Lord. To those who say, "Thus says the Lord," she sneers and jeers. Like a drunken man that refuses to listen to the one who tells him not to drive, so our nation refuses to hear the word of the Lord spoken.

Nor does our nation trust in the Lord. "In God we trust" is our motto. But we do not trust in God. We open ourselves to the gods of the nations. We embrace falsehood instead of truth. We allow the god of Islam, the Latter Day Saints and materialism to have the same voice as the true God - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We draw near to other gods (and don't get me started on the mosque near the Trade Center plaza) and embrace them as though they are equal with the Lord Almighty. We allow the voice of those who have no voice (for they are man-made gods) to speak louder than the voice of the Creator God. Listen to the Lord? Never! Let Him lead our nation? Of course not. We must bow down to Allah, who is no god at all, but is embraced by leaders and people alike.

I can only imagine the tears of sorrow that ran down Zephaniah's cheeks as he proclaimed this message to the people of his day. Tears run down the cheeks of the prophet today who points out the sin of the people, the judgment of the Lord, the great Day of the Lord, for the people do not listen. They do not care. Satan has blinded them with his lies. And they have accepted them as truth. And the Word of God, which is truth, is seen as a lie.

Woe to you people who do not listen! Woe to you who turn away to false gods, who bow down blindly with your leaders! The day of the Lord is coming - that great, dreadful day of judgment! Turn from your sins, from your wicked ways, and live! Turn! Not tomorrow but today! Who knows, perhaps the Lord will relent of His judgment against you!

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