Abiding, Bible, Destruction, Eternity, Salvation, Scripture

THE END OF THINGS

ZEPHANIAH 2:14

“Flocks will lie down in her midst, all animals that range in herds; both the pelican and the hedgehog will spend their nights in the tops of her pillars; birds will sing in the window, devastation will be on the threshold; for He has uncovered the cedar work.”

I like movies that have the hero stopping an end of the world plot by the villain. There are a lot of those kinds of movies out there. Usually, it comes down to the last second to save mankind. The hero risks everything to accomplish his mission. But in the end, he is successful (and usually gets the girl, lol). That ending is happy, right?

Not so with the destruction of Nineveh and Assyria who Zephaniah is describing here in verse 14 of chapter 2. Their destruction will be so complete that the animals will live in their cities. They will sleep in the fallen caps of the pillars that held up their impressive homes and buildings. And among all that destruction, the birds will still sing. Total destruction and a return to the wild.

APPLICATION

How do we apply a verse like this to our lives? Remember, every word of Scripture is inspired by God and given to us for instruction. So, what does this mean to us? Nothing we can accomplish on this earth will remain. Nothing we build will withstand God’s final judgment on earth. All the wealth we obtain will get us nowhere.

The only thing that will last is our relationship with God. Our eternal destiny rests in the decision we make concerning Him. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 “…‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.’” There is no other way. You cannot earn your way to the Father. You cannot get there through anything you do here. You must go through Jesus.

I pray you have made that decision. I pray you are resting in that decision if you have made it. As believers, we know everything we have here really belongs to Him. We hold it all very loosely in our hands. But we hold tightly to Him. Why? Because He is our hero. He has already defeated the villain of our spiritual lives. We know the ending. Jesus is triumphant. Amen? Amen!

I hold my success and all I have accomplished in my hands and offer it all to You, Lord.

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Accountability, Accused, Belief, Bible, Cleansing, Commitment, Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERY KNEE WILL BOW

ZEPHANIAH 2:11

“The LORD will be terrifying to them, for He will starve all the gods of the earth; and all the coastlands of the nations will bow down to Him, everyone from his own place.”

I can still remember when I came to Christ. I was raised in church and even got baptized at eight, but I did not bow to Christ until I was sixteen. While singing a song, Christ spoke to me clearly and showed me my sins. That night I bowed to Him and gave my life to Him. I was proud and egotistical, but I knew I was lost and in need of salvation.

Zephaniah tells us in 2:11 that all “the nations will bow down to Him. The Hebrew word here for “bow down” is shachah which means to bow down, crouch, fall down flat, humbly beseech, do reverence, worship. Do you get the picture? One day, Zephaniah says, they will all worship Him. That holds true today. Everyone will bow one day before the Lord. No exceptions.

APPLICATION

If this prophecy is true (and it is), then we need to be busy spreading the good news. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Sounds a little bit like Zephaniah, doesn’t it?

We all know people who are just like I was at sixteen. They are too proud to admit they need a Savior. They think they can handle things on their own. But it is not about that. It’s about realizing we will all answer for our sins one day. Without Christ in your life, you will not have the right answer. Without Christ there is no escaping God’s wrath.

But praise be to God, with Christ, we have the answer. Our answer to God is “I am Your child. I belong to You because of the blood of Your Son. He paid the price for me.” Is that your answer today? Have you bowed down to Him? Have you seen your sins and realized your need for a Savior? If not, do that today. He is waiting.

I bow before You today, O God. I worship You.

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Accused, Belief, Bible, Consequences, Deliverance, Faith, God's Will, Holiness, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

INSTEAD OF THIS, YOU GET THAT

ZEPHANIAH 2:10

“This they will have in return for their arrogance, because they have taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of armies.”

The old payback – no one wants that. Right? If you have ever done something to harm someone who has the ability to get you back, you are constantly looking over your shoulder. Siblings are great at that. They will plot until just the right time and then nail you. I’ve known people who waited for years to strike back and get their vengeance.

Of course, God is not getting vengeance on the Moabites and Ammonites. He is simply giving them what they deserve according to His judgment on them. In return for their violence against His people, they will be judged. Instead of blessings, they have incurred His wrath. If they had only yielded to Him. But instead, they rebelled and now are suffering the consequences.

APPLICATION

God is still in the reward business. If we turn to Jesus and confess Him as Lord and Savior, then He rewards us by giving us eternal life. Instead of His wrath, we get blessings. If we do not come to Jesus, we will be judged by a holy God and be found lacking. Nothing we have done or could do will earn us a place in glory.

It’s really pretty simple. I think that is the problem. People don’t believe it’s that easy to get saved. They think they have to do something. All God asks of us is to confess our sins, believe in His Son and surrender to His Will. Who do you know who needs to do that? Can you lead them into a saving knowledge of Jesus today and help them escape the wrath to come?

I could list a number of verses about salvation here, but I would prefer that you look them up. Just do a Google search on salvation verses. You will get dozens and dozens. If you are not a believer, let the Word convict you and lead you to Him. If you are a believer, share these verses with someone who needs them. Praise God for His mercy and grace.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. Oh my soul rejoice.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Confession, Covenant, Forgiveness, Salvation, Scripture

IN HIS CARE

ZEPHANIAH 2:7

“And the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they will drive sheep to pasture on it. In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening; for the LORD their God will care for them and restore their fortunes.”

Yesterday, my wife and I had the privilege to have our youngest granddaughter at our house for the day. She is almost five and is full of energy. She never stops, but we love it. We don’t consider caring for her as babysitting. We care for her because we love her and want to spend time with her.

The same holds true for our Lord. Zephaniah reminds his people that God cares for them and wants to “restore their fortunes.” How did God care for them? He removed their enemies. He gave them possessions to meet their needs. He returned what had been taken from them by their enemies. He proved His promises were true.

APPLICATION

We all desire to be cared for, don’t we? Recently, I was sick and needed someone to care for me. I did not call my neighbor or a stranger. I was cared for by the one person who knows me best here on earth. I was cared for by the person I spend a lot of time with. I was cared for by the person who has loved me and has cut covenant with me these past 37 years. My wife cared for me (and by the way, she did an incredible job).

In the same way, God knows you better than anyone and can meet the needs you have even before you know you have them. He wants to bless you and see your “fortunes” restored. What is required of us to receive that blessing? Simply abide in Him. If you are His child, He cares for you. If you are His child, He wants to see you blessed.

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Are you His child? If you are not sure, go to Him now. Make sure of it. If you know you are not in His family, ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. Confirm that with someone. Talk to a Pastor or another believer. Tell someone. And then watch the way God works in your life as He cares for you. You will be amazed.

Your blessings blow me away, O God. Your tender touch reassures me of Your care.

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God's Will, Bible, Scripture, Faith, Salvation, Judgment, Destruction, Choices, Belief, Consequences

THE RESULTS OF UNBELIEF

Zephaniah 2:4

“For Gaza will be abandoned, and Ashkelon will become a desolation; the inhabitants of Ashdod will be driven out at noon, and Ekron will be uprooted.”

Choices have consequences. I remember dealing with a troubled young man one time at one of the children’s homes where I served. I told him after a particularly heated episode, “You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.” Years later I ran into this young man, now an adult, married with two children. He told me he never forgot those words, and they had guided him ever since that day.

Zephaniah begins in verse 4 listing all these nations that surrounded Judah that were rebellious towards God. Look at how he describes their end. They were abandoned, desolate, driven out and uprooted. None of these end results were positive. All these nations suffered God’s wrath. They all were judged by a holy and righteous God.

APPLICATION

I don’t want to be abandoned or desolate or driven out or uprooted. Thanks to Christ, I never will be. Because of the faith I have placed in His saving grace, I will always have God by my side. I will never be desolate. I will never be driven away from Him. I will always be grafted into Him. Those are the results I want and now have.

But so many around us are headed in the same direction as Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron. They are headed for disaster. The sad thing is they are not even aware of it. They think they are just fine. It’s all smooth sailing. Tragedy awaits. But we have the answer, don’t we?

Knowing where I am headed makes this life so much easier. I may still face hard times, but He is with me. 2 Timothy 1:12 tells us, “For this reason I also suffer these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to protect what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Are you convinced?

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a future and a hope. I rest in You.

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Bible, Messages, Names, Salvation, Scripture

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

ZEPHANIAH 1:1

“The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah:”

I am named for my two grandfathers, whom I never knew. Carl was my maternal grandfather’s first name. William was my paternal grandfather’s middle name. I am proud of my name and for what it stands for. I am, in a sense, carrying on both of my family lines with my name. Names mean something, don’t they?

So, when you come to the Old Testament, most people’s names meant something. Take for instance, the names mentioned here in the first verse of Zephaniah. (Oh, by the way, we are starting a new study today which will take us through the next 53 days.)

Zephaniah means “whom the Lord hid.” Gedaliah means “whom the Lord made great.” Amariah means “whom the Lord promised.” And Hezekiah means “whom the Lord strengthened.”

So, what does that mean for us?

APPLICATION

The most famous name ever given is found in Matthew 1:21. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus’ name meant Yahweh saves. Even His name brought the message of salvation to mankind. Every time Mary called Jesus in for dinner, she would be uttering the message.

Think on that for a minute. How many of us name our children so that we are reminded of a message from God each time we call them. I have known a lot of women named Faith or Grace. I have even known a girl named Merry Christmas (no joke). I am not telling you to go and rename your children now. That would be silly. But look up the meaning of their names if you don’t already know it. The next time you call their name, think about what that means.

I am so glad that Jesus lived up to His name, aren’t you? He was born with a message. He grew up in that message. He died giving us that message. He certainly was the salvation for man. Yahweh saves. He saved through His Son. I pray you know Him as your Savior and Lord. The next time you say His name, think about what it means. He came to save you.

Oh God, I am eternally thankful for the message written in the name of Jesus. He saves!

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Trust

WAVE RIDER

HABAKKUK 3:15

“You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the foam of many waters.”

I love to watch the waves as they crest and then break on the beach. The power in each wave is incredible. I have never personally seen twenty or thirty foot waves, but I know people who have. They tell me they are not only powerful but are also terrifying and destructive. Can’t you just picture that?

Habakkuk paints a portrait in today’s verse of God riding the waves, leading the charge against the enemy. Albert Barnes quotes a couple of other Old Testament verses that give the same picture. Isaiah 63:13 says, “who led them in the depths;” and Zechariah 10:11 reads, “And He shall pass through the sea.” Barnes says, “God was literally there.”

APPLICATION

God is still out front defending us. He is riding the waves in our defense. He will drown our enemies the same way He drowned Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea. What seemed to be an obstacle for the Hebrew children became their way of escape and their source of salvation.

We don’t understand the ways of God. We certainly don’t understand them when we are going through hard times or if our very lives seem to be crumbling. But God is at work, in His time. His timing is always perfect. He is never late. When the time is right, He will ride that wave and wash away our enemies.

I don’t begin to say I understand that. I’ve tried and failed. I have come to the conclusion that I have to just trust Him. I know that sounds too spiritual. But it is the truth. We must come to the point that we simply trust Him who has saved us eternally to save us temporally also. If it His will to rescue us here on earth, praise His name. But if He should choose to rescue us by bringing us home eternally, then so be it. It’s really a win-win now, isn’t it?

Lord, I will watch as You ride the waves in my defense and will praise You if You carry me home.

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Belief, Bible, Defense, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

OUR DEFENDER

HABAKKUK 3:14

“You pierced with his own arrows the head of his leaders. They stormed in to scatter us; their arrogance was like those who devour the oppressed in secret.”

I had a big brother until July 2021. He passed into glory that month way too young (65 years old). All our life I knew I had a big brother who would come to my defense if I ever needed him. That was especially true during our childhood years. Sure, we fought a lot, but I knew he was there for me if the need arose.

Habakkuk heralds the defensiveness of our God in today’s verse. He describes how He even “pierced with his own arrows the head of his leaders.” No matter the judgment against Israel, Habakkuk knew God was there. He would not let them endure more than they could take. That reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

APPLICATION

Rest assured, my beloved, God is still defending us. You may be going through a hard trial right now, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 still applies. Habakkuk 3:14 does too. Claim the promise of God’s protection today. He will not abandon His children. He knows exactly what you are going through.

Maybe a friend is in need of these words today. Share it with them. If they are a believer, they should be encouraged. If they aren’t a believer, what better encouragement could they hear. If they come to Jesus, He will take up their battles for them. If they surrender to His will, He will direct them in their paths.

I know my life is not going to be empty of trials. They may be physical or financial. They could be emotional or spiritual. Whatever the trial, my Lord is there. He stands ready to intervene the moment I call on Him. He loves me and wants what it best for me. I trust Him. Do you?

Father in heaven, thank You for having my back – always!

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Accused, Bible, Forgiveness, Judgment, Safety, Salvation, Scripture, Security

BOW AND ARROWS

HABAKKUK 3:9

“You removed Your bow from its holder, the arrows of Your word were sworn. Selah. You divided the earth with rivers.”

I have a crossbow which I use to hunt. I have yet to claim a deer with it, but I am ready should the opportunity come. That bow is no good to me if I keep it in its case. It is also no good if I do not load it with a bolt (an arrow for a crossbow). But once I pull it out of its case and load it with a bolt, it is ready to be used.

God’s judgment is pictured here by Habakkuk as an unsheathed bow that has its arrows ready to shoot. God’s word of promise to execute judgment are true, just like His aim. We may not see it coming, much like an arrow shot from a distance. But it is coming, and God never misses His target. “But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded.” Psalm 64:7

APPLICATION

I do not fear God’s arrows of judgment because I have laid my sins at the foot of the cross. My sins have been paid for by my Savior and Lord. I can walk in victory each day, knowing that there is no need to look over my shoulder fearing God’s wrath. It has been satisfied by the blood of the Lamb.

The enemy will try to insinuate that I am not secure in Christ. He will try to get me to question the power of the cross. All those are lies, told to try to get me off my mission. My mission is to point others to Jesus. I want to see them walk in the same victory I am walking in each day.

How about you? Do you walk in fear or victory? Do you walk as if you are defeated? If you are a child of God, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, there is no need to walk that way. You have been promised a home with Him in eternity. Nothing can change that. You are safe and secure. Walk that way.

Thank You, Lord, for the knowledge that You do execute judgment where necessary, but I am free from judgment because of Christ.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Choices, Christ's Return, Darkness, Eternity, Kingdom, Kings, Majesty, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

CHARIOTS OF SALVATION

HABAKKUK 3:8

“Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your rage against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?”

All throughout Scripture we see imagery of God with water. In creation, He separated the waters above and the waters below. Then He caused land to appear which further separated the waters on earth. We see Him part the Red Sea and the Jordan River. We see Him gush forth waters from a rock in the wilderness. Water and God have a presence in the Bible that cannot be ignored.

So, it is no wonder that Habakkuk uses that same imagery in his book. But we see something here that is unique. We see the “chariots of salvation.” I can just picture what Habakkuk is describing. God swoops down and rescues His people as if He is riding a chariot. The waters of the Red Sea parting and the flow of Jordan walled up reflect the presence of God moving through and saving His people.

APPLICATION

God is still rescuing us. This is done now through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ didn’t ride through Israel on a chariot. No, He walked and once rode a donkey’s colt. He didn’t come as a ruling king, but rather as a lowly baby in a manger. He lived in Nazareth, the lowliest of the villages in Galilee.

But one day He will return as Judge and King. He will come to reign supremely. And we will reign with Him as joint heirs of His kingdom. Won’t that be a glorious day? But you first have to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Even though you don’t see a chariot of salvation, you can be assured that He reigns.

As we come closer to Christmas day and prepare to celebrate, don’t forget the saving power of God is as strong today as it ever was. God is still rescuing us from a dark and somber world. He wants us to rejoice with Him that His Son paid the ultimate price. He has truly ridden that chariot of salvation for us.

Open my eyes that I may see Your salvation to the world more clearly. Use me to reach out to those who need to hear.

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