An old Preacher used to say, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” The Book of Proverbs essentially agrees. For example: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Proverbs 29:2
Zephaniah today illustrates that principle. One reason God is judging Judah so harshly is due to her inferior (sinful) leaders. “Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.” Zephaniah 3:3-4
The list is far ranging, including the Jewish “princes” (her royalty, her future kings), “judges,” and “prophets” (preachers), plus her “priests.”
Secular and sacred, we would say today.
God, in today’s Text, lists the “charges,” too!
Instead of ruling in kindness and grace, the younger members of the king’s family (the “princes”) have become tyrants, fear inducing monarchs! Like “roaring lions,” ready to devour even their own people!
And the “judges” now are open to “bribes,” padding their own pockets, fleecing the people … as if they were a pack of hungry wolves! “What’s in it for ME?” … that kind of selfish attitude among the judiciary.
Her “prophets” are no longer serious about the things of God, either. “Light and treacherous” it’s said of them. Living in open sin, and not ashamed (the meaning of the word “light” here). And “deceitful” (the Hebrew definition for “treacherous”) to the core, preaching one thing but not believing an iota of it!
And finally her “priests,” men who were charged with the responsibility of “teaching” God’s Word to the Israelites … have become impure and no longer reverence the Law they were called to uphold.
So, God is about to judge the entire Nation.
Psalm 9:17 is still in the Bible! “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Oh, that our world would heed these words. As America approaches the time she will elect a new President, we might should re-read these Passages from Zephaniah!
God means what he says.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell