Wednesday after Judica
Scripture: Zephaniah 3:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city!
2 She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; She has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God.
3 Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; Her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning.
4 Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; Her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
5 The Lord is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.
6 “I have cut off nations, their fortresses are devastated; I have made their streets desolate, with none passing by. Their cities are destroyed; There is no one, no inhabitant.
7 I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, you will receive instruction’—so that her dwelling would not be cut off, despite everything for which I punished her. But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.
8 “Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.
Today our reading reveals the devastation that will come upon Jerusalem for not heeding the voice of the Lord. (“She has not trusted in the Lord.”) And, for not seeking His guidance and following after His ways. (“She has not drawn near to her God.”) This rebellion against the Almighty was not just one or two groups of people who had gone astray, but involved the princes, the judges, and the priests.
One of the reasons for such rebelliousness came from not heeding God’s guidelines for being and remaining holy. They were to be set apart from other nations, but they chose to intermarry and condone practices of the Ammonites with incest between fathers and daughters. Now when the Word of God is despised, the Lord takes it away. Since the Lord is present in His Word, to have it removed is to have the presence of God depart from us. That essentially means that rebelling against the Word of God effectively tells the Lord that we no longer wish to be His people. We no longer want Him to be our God. What was Israel thinking?
While the people of Israel had a history of being rebellious, so do we, according to our sinful human nature. That is why it is necessary to consistently heed the written voice of the Lord, and daily examine our own hearts and decisions. We should not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of pushing away a kind, just, and merciful Lord, as Israel did.
Let us pray: Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see Thy Passion, but its cause to me make known and its termination. Ah! I also and my sin wrought Thy deep affliction; this indeed the cause hath been of Thy crucifixion. Amen. (TLH 140, vs. 3)