Relentlessly the stern words of warning (and rebuke) continue! The Prophet Zephaniah (actually quoting Almighty God) will not stop short of obeying Isaiah 58:1. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”
Today’s Verse lists 4 general areas where Judah sinned repeatedly. “She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.” Zephaniah 3:2
The transgressions seem similar, at first.
But there are differences.
Yet truly, ALL SIN is, according to 1 John 3:4, “the transgression of the law.” The whole verse: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
Let’s enumerate these “shortcomings” of Judah’s. Perhaps the four divisions in one of Zephaniah’s Sermons on a typical Sabbath Day!
“She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.”
First, she “obeyed not.” The Hebrew verb here is “shama,” translated “to hear” 785 times in the Old Testament! That is its predominant meaning, really. But it means “to hear” with the clear intention of “doing something” about what you have heard! Therefore, it is also translated “to obey” 89 more times in the Bible! The negative particle “lo” means “not” in Hebrew, “no” with a “final force!” Stubborn Judah!
Second, she did not properly respond to God’s Correction. She did not “laqach” (Hebrew for “latching onto” something) God’s chastisement. The word “correction” means “discipline,” just like a Father gives a wayward child. If we do not submissively bow before God’s “whippings” He administers to us … we will become even more hardened and bitter toward the One Who loved us and saved us!
Third, and maybe the “heart” of all these sins, Judah “trusted not” the Lord! “Batach” means “to lean on someone, to believe what He says,” so much that you … no longer “worry” one iota about that Person not keeping His Promises! “Careless” in that sense, positive in one’s reliance! But Judah had lost that high degree of faith.
Last, she “drew not near” the Lord. The verb here is “qarab,” meaning “to approach, to present (oneself), to enter into.” Frequently it also means “to offer” the One you’re approaching a “gift.” Judah no longer worships the Lord! Not in any way that pleases Him!
Now … to me anyway … these 4 categories no longer blend so easily. One type of sin likely led to another … until Judah was ripe for judgment. James 1:15 captures this truth. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” See the sequential “steps” downward?
But let’s not “give up” on Judah yet!
God certainly did not, has not even yet!
Zephaniah will still end on a sweet note of love and grace!
God is forgiving!
Let’s praise Him today.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell