Zephaniah is an uncommon Minor Prophet that often is ignored. Three verses capture these three short chapters:
“It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil!’ (Zeph. 1:12).
Seek the Lord, All you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph. 2:3)
“For then I will give to the people’s purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. “ (Zeph. 3:9).
Three words come to mind when I think of Zephaniah and his message to Israel: stagnant, seek, serve.
Stagnant in spirit. The word “stagnant” also can be translated as: “to settle down comfortably” or “complacent” or “thickening”. All of these reflect a heart condition where their spirit has bogged down in apathy and indifference toward God. This was the reason for his judgment on Israel. This was the reason for God’s displeasure. It was obvious that Israel was in trouble, not because of anything but their own doing. They had become stagnant towards God. You can always tell when a person’s spirit has become stagnant because they do not think God is at work at all – “he does not do good or evil”. If there is a transferable challenge to us we need to guard against allowing our heart / spirit to become stagnant towards God and spiritual things.
Seek the Lord. This will be true of those who are truly humble. Humility is characterized by obedience. These may be different aspects of our walk with God but they are inseparable in this text. You cannot claim to be a person who seeks after God without humility. You cannot claim humility unless you obey His Word. Seeking God is not just done to escape judgment but to be in His presence.
Serving God shoulder to shoulder. Literally to “serve with one shoulder”. It is about the idea of serving in one accord. But notice that God acts first. He will purify his people and the result is they will call upon his name. Together they will all now serve the Lord shoulder to shoulder.
This is God’s call on His people. Serving together can only happen when He purifies our heart so that we will first seek him and then, and only then will we have the capacity to serve together. A stagnant heart is not only dull towards God but has little interest in serving alongside others. But think of the power of God’s people when they truly align with one another to serve the Lord shoulder to shoulder… powerful.
In His grace