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The Judgment and Deliverance of Judah

(Zephaniah 1:12; 3:1-5, 11-13)

Lesson 3 -- fourth quarter 2002
September 15, 2002

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Does God care?

The Israelite people of God in Jerusalem had an attitude and a manner of living mirrored by many of God's people today. They may not announce it with their lips in plain language, but the declaration of their lives really could not ring forth any more plainly: God doesn't care! Or as the Israelites said in their hearts: "The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil" (Zephaniah 1:12). They are comfortably set in their ways and have no intention of changing for the better. They see no need to amend their ways; after all, God has given up on the blessing and cursing business. Or so they think.

Give them credit a little credit, though. They acted in accordance with what they believed. If you believed God would not punish evil, would you reject it? And if you likewise believed God would no longer bless righteousness, would you embrace it? So you see, those folks long ago had this in their favor (though it certainly was of no benefit to them): their beliefs and their lives were consistent. Plenty of us fail the consistency test.

But let's get back to the lead question: Does God care?

What do you think? Will God truly do good to those who seek peace and demonstrate love to their friend, their neighbor, and their enemy ? Is it true that God will allow evil to come on those who follow after railing, revenge, and lust? Does it matter to God whether I'm faithful or treacherous, covetous or content, cheerful or cranky? Does God care if I drive over the speed limit, ignore the code a little, or honk disgustedly at that driver?

You and I could both declare (perhaps even indignantly), "Of course God cares!" We would be right, of course. But I wonder if my children would agree, "Yes, Dad lives as though God cares." And I wonder if your family and friends would express similar sentiments about you. I also wonder if the unbelievers who know us (as well as those who interact only briefly with us) conclude that we believe God cares.

Ultimately, what we believe and what others think we believe will not change reality. That reality is in the following two verses.

"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people" (Hebrews 10:30).

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:12).

Let's think about that, my friend. Let's make any changes the Spirit of God brings to our attention. (And if His Spirit chooses to use an imperfect someone else to show us where we need to improve, let's not squawk!)

Are Anabaptists haughty?

It seems the Israelites had a cultural and religious pride and haughtiness about them. I get the impression they thought quite highly of themselves because of their rich heritage and their identity as God's chosen ones. Why else would God make this promise: "Thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain" (Zephaniah 3:11)? May God deliver us from similar pride!

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