Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE: PART 24: "STRONG HANDS HOLDING ON"

"In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: Do not be afraid, O Zion; do not let your hands fall limp" (Zephaniah 3:16)
The last several 3:16 verses of the “Old Testament” are full of major End Time coming events which the men who wrote down these divinely inspired words, could not comprehend! One prophet after another described EVERYTHING from the conditions on the Ground during the Second Coming of Christ (Habakkuk Chapter 3) to the Armies of Heaven fighting the Final Battle of History. While they were doing this, they accurately predicted the Fall and Destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th Century BC (Before Christ).

God used His select few prophets, sometimes for decades of prophesying, so as to give people time to repent and be restored to Him. Today, in the 21st Century AD (Anno Domini - in the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ), He is giving modern man the same amount of Grace to turn back from the edge of the cliff. Today, modern man is even more corrupt than ever, and refusing to so do. But the work of the Lord continues.


Another prophet of old, who was prophesying against the corrupt city of Jerusalem at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invasion (along with prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Habakkuk and others) was Zephaniah.  Even he (Zephaniah) was speaking of the end times we are currently living in, as well as the pending destruction by the marauding Babylonian army.  Zephaniah was very highly regarded as he was the great, great-grandson of King Hezekiah – the famous king whom God gave 15 extra years to live. Hezekiah was the king whose reign featured the prophet Isaiah and the well-known incident with the Assyrian King Sennacharib, where God Himself destroyed 185,000 of that Assyrian king's army which had laid siege to the Holy City.


Zephaniah Chapter 3 is very unique. Only the first seven verses pertain to the coming Destruction of Jerusalem and Judah by the rampaging King Nebuchadnezzar. The rest of the chapter (verses 8-20) are all Words about the Age yet to come - the End of Days. What is unique in this entire chapter is that the list of indictments which caused the complete destruction of Jerusalem in order to cleanse it, is the same list - on steroids - against ALL of the world today. The following is the list:


Destruction and Sorrow awaits the City (Jerusalem…and any people today) for the following reasons:

-   Their arrogance have made them smarter than God, in their own minds. So they listen to no one. They will not even think critically to an eye of correcting course where necessary. (Verse 2a)

-   Because of their arrogance and idolatry (then – in Jerusalem and now, where mankind rejects God is fiction), they will not put their Faith and Trust in their Creator God. Because of this rejection, they will not even seek and talk to Him. (Verse 2b)

-   The leaders of 6th Century Jerusalem, namely its kings, princes, legal system,  captains of business and the clergy are all predators….always seeking to satisfy  their own physical needs and lusts of the flesh. They seek to devour more and more. Their consumerism and lusting after power, material goods and more have made them predators against the weak, poor and the followers of Jesus Christ – now AND then. (Verse 3)

-   If you read the prophet Jeremiah, the preponderance of false prophets lying to the political leaders of the country will be immediately obvious. God Himself says that He did NOT send these fakes, that they are lying and He is about to permanently remove them. Today’s false prophets are not just those who are treated with awe and respect, even though all their so-called prophesies have been wrong. But it is the leadership (and by extension, membership) of a vast majority of those calling themselves Christians are proclaiming deadly error by getting involved in everything which has nothing to do with the Gospel or making disciples. In fact, they major in “social gospel” (socialism with bible verses); politics and even cultural transformation. (Verse 4a)

-  Just before Nebuchadnezzar, following God’s instructions, headed straight for the Temple and sacked it to pieces,  the priests of God’s Temple were bowing down to pagan idols in secret INSIDE the Temple, while pretending to worship God and doing His Will as laid out in the Torah. They not only brought these vile practices into the Lord’s House but endangered the souls of an entire population of their nation.  Church and ministry leaders today are doing the same – they have brought the corrupt secular culture and world’s standards to the Altar of Christ and expect Him to bless it. (Verse 4b)

Even with all these indictments,  all 6th century Jerusalem acted just like the world acts today.  He warned them over and over. He warned them with different prophets and circumstance, but they lied to themselves that it will all turn out fine in the end. Sounds familiar? The majority do the same thing today.  When there is a calamity or horrific event like a mass shooting or even 9/11 on September 11, 2001 – churches are filled and the talk of “thoughts and prayers” fill the air like Jingle Bells at Christmas time.

Herein lies the other indictment – there is no Faith or Belief in the God Whose wrath is obvious all the time to those who rebel and reject Him.

In the first eight verses, we see the parallels of Jerusalem’s pending destruction with life in any city or country today, and it is uncanny. In the rest of Zephaniah chapter 3, we see exactly what God is going to do – not just to Jerusalem but the nations around today. He never does anything in secret. Man has created all kinds of secret societies with weird symbols and rings. God has spoken several times, EXACTLY what He will do. Yet people ignore….and at their own peril, may I add!

In quick succession, here is what is coming down, very quickly (from Zephaniah 3:8-11):
  1. God will accuse and indict all nations of the world (then and today).
  2. God’s Courtroom will be packed with EVERY rebel nation (God says ALL nations) and evidence demanding a 100% guilty verdict will be presented without question.
  3. Judgment will be swift and fiery. This is not some American courtroom, but God’s Recording room with every act of rebellion pulled up, with the Book of Moses’ Law as the Plumbline of Truth.  Because none of these nations of the Earth are followers of Jesus Christ – NONE of them – they will be judge righteously by the penalties required by the Ten Commandments. Those are not pretty. Read all the consequences of every of those Laws of God in the books of Leviticus etc. Nothing will be left standing. When it is over – only Jesus Christ and the New City of Jerusalem will be left standing.
  4. The Remnant that remains (God’s people – Christians) will be cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb – in thought, word and deed. The dead in Christ will already be risen by the Rapture. The remnant will be those who were persecuted by the nations but are still alive.  The Lord will prepare them for the Heavenly Kingdom, in order that they will worship properly in Spirit and in Truth.
  5.  However, the majority of mankind, those who are awaiting judgment and those alive now, have a lot of cause to worry. Verse 11 promises complete removal from the eternal life. Oh, they will live in eternity, just not in the way they expect. God has promised again and again, no unholy, unworthy, unrepentant and unredeemed people will live in His Holy Presence.
The amazing thing about the Lord is with the promise of pending punishment is the guarantee of gushing Grace - grace upon Grace....for those who love God. Romans 8:28a promises that ALL things work together for those who LOVE God. Our Heavenly Father does NOT leave those who are born-again and love Jesus to hang out and dry. Read verses 12-20 below. 

The hope promised in Zephaniah 3:16 is fleshed out, big time in the rest of this chapter. Still, this is not even the half of it. But for those who fear, for those who care, for those who are waiting for answers to appear, the Lord says this:
-  Hold on a little longer.  Don't give up now. Keep holding on to Him even stronger and don't let your grip "go limp" (3:16). The stronger you and I hold on to Yahweh, the easier it is for Him to hold us up.

-  God will be in our midst. This promises our future residence in the Millennial Kingdom where the enemies will not even be around. Only those who love God will be allowed in this Kingdom. He has the following in store for us: love, joy, peace, a purpose, a plan and the Son of Man - Jesus, in person...in Jerusalem, the Capitol of Peace.

-  Here is what the Lord says is the coming reward if we hang, with strong hands and stronger faith (verses 19-20): And gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. “At that time I will bring you in, even at the time when I gather you together; indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.

Do not let go. Stay by His side. Hang on to Him. God is good.

Zephaniah 3: Woe to Jerusalem and the Nations
1Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
The tyrannical city!
2She heeded no voice,
She accepted no instruction.
She did not trust in the Lord,
She did not draw near to her God.
3Her princes within her are roaring lions,
Her judges are wolves at evening;
They leave nothing for the morning.
4Her prophets are reckless, treacherous men;
Her priests have profaned the sanctuary.
They have done violence to the law.
5The Lord is righteous within her;
He will do no injustice.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He does not fail.
But the unjust knows no shame.
6"I have cut off nations;
Their corner towers are in ruins.
I have made their streets desolate,
With no one passing by;
Their cities are laid waste,
Without a man, without an inhabitant.
7"I said, 'Surely you will revere Me,
Accept instruction.'
So her dwelling will not be cut off
According to all that I have appointed concerning her.
But they were eager to corrupt all their deeds.
8"Therefore wait for Me," declares the Lord,
"For the day when I rise up as a witness.
Indeed, My decision is to gather nations,
To assemble kingdoms,
To pour out on them My indignation,
All My burning anger;
For all the earth will be devoured
By the fire of My zeal.
9"For then I will give to the peoples purified lips,
That all of them may call on the name of the Lord,
To serve Him shoulder to shoulder.
10"From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
My worshipers, My dispersed ones,
Will bring My offerings.
11"In that day you will feel no shame
Because of all your deeds
By which you have rebelled against Me;
For then I will remove from your midst
Your proud, exulting ones,
And you will never again be haughty
On My holy mountain.
A Remnant of Israel
12"But I will leave among you
A humble and lowly people,
And they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.
13"The remnant of Israel will do no wrong
And tell no lies,
Nor will a deceitful tongue
Be found in their mouths;
For they will feed and lie down
With no one to make them tremble."
14Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15The Lord has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You will fear disaster no more.
16In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
17"The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
18"I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts-
They came from you, O Zion;
The reproach of exile is a burden on them.
19"Behold, I am going to deal at that time
With all your oppressors,
I will save the lame
And gather the outcast,
And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
In all the earth.
20"At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,"
Says the Lord.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
www.bible.com

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