"Jerusalem is doomed, that corrupt, rebellious city that oppresses its own people. It has not listened to the Lord or accepted his discipline. It has not put its trust in the Lord or asked for his help. Its officials are like roaring lions; its judges are like hungry wolves, too greedy to leave a bone until morning. The prophets are irresponsible and treacherous; the priests defile what is sacred, and twist the law of God to their own advantage. But the Lord is still in the city; he does what is right and never what is wrong. Every morning without fail, he brings justice to his people. And yet the unrighteous people there keep on doing wrong and are not ashamed."
We all wrestle with the difficult age-old questions, "Why do the wicked prosper?" and "Why do the righteous suffer?" It is especially difficult when you feel you have done right by God and experience hardship, while the person next to you has little to no regard for God and seemingly gets ahead. You have been exasperated praying and believing God for His promises, but things in your life have not turned out as you had hoped. It may seems as if God doesn't even hear your prayers anymore. But the guy who scoffs at God is doing great? You begin to wonder, "Why follow God when all I get is trials? If there is a God of justice in heaven, why doesn't He do something about all the injustice in the world? Is it worth it to follow the Lord?"
In the Bible, we see several examples of God's people struggling with this same problem. Many of their enemies were godless and yet seemed prosperous. Many Believers had become disappointed with God. He had not done for them what they had hoped. But God has a plan to right every wrong and punish all evildoers. If our personal and family lives are not right with God, we will be terrified at Jesus' coming, because He alone is holy and He alone will judge everyone.
Officials...rulers...prophets...priests were all classes of leaders that were all reprimanded for indulging in conduct that was completely opposed to their calling and their responsibilities. These treacherous people were claiming to be people of God but they only proclaimed lies. They violated the law when they were supposed to be teachers of the law.
The above scripture is not the "prettiest" of scriptures and we could easily accuse Zephaniah of being a "doomsday prepper". But the reality is, Zephaniah's purpose for such harsh words was to bring God's people to repentance and instill future hope.
Zephaniah describes a coming great Day of the Lord that is fast approaching (Zeph 1:1-2:3). While initially Zephaniah bluntly warns his listeners to expect judgement, he also reaffirms God's lasting love for His own. There will always be consequences for sin, but God is committed to saving His people until the end. As God says through Zephaniah 3:17...
"The Lord your God is with you;
his power gives you victory.
The Lord will take delight in you,
and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you."
Christina is the founder of Relentless Love Ministries and lives in Linton. She is an active speaker, guest lecturer, and published author. For more information, questions, or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.