Major from MinorsFor 55 years, Manasseh, the only son of Hezekiah, reigned as king over Judah. Despite the northern kingdom’s recent demise, King Manasseh failed to heed the warning and “did evil in the sight of the Lord, after the [idolatrous] practices of the [heathen] nations whom the Lord cast out before the Israelites” (2 Kings 21:2 AMP). During this half-century, there was only silence from heaven. No prophets spoke the oracles of the Lord to the people. In essence, God turned his back in displeasure.

Zephaniah broke the silence with his warnings to the people of Judah foe their sin. Judah’s new king, Amon, reverted right back to the evil ways of his father, and therefore Zephaniah spoke up with a message of doom for God’s people. Like the many OT prophets we have read, he spoke a warning to the leadership and flock of Israel, a warning to turn back and repent or face dire consequences. He likened the destruction to come as worse than the flood of Noah’s time:

“By taking away I will make an end and I will utterly consume and sweep away all things from the face of the earth, says the Lord. I will consume and sweep away man and beast; I will consume and sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will overthrow the stumbling blocks (the idols) with the wicked [worshipers], and I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth, says the Lord.” – Zeph 1:2-3 AMP

The pattern we have seen over and over again in the Prophets continues in Zephaniah, as the message of doom and destruction seems to turn on a dime in chapter 3. In fact, this short book ends with a message of hope in 3:9-20. After the destruction (which comes at the hand of Babylon), a remnant will be saved in Israel. God will forgive, sin will be removed, and hope will be restored.

God’s heart to bless once again prevails.

Let us fast forward to October 12, 539 B.C. Cyrus the Great officially ends the Babylonian empire, and releases those in captivity. A remnant of Israel hears the Lord instruct them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. There is hope in the air again.

The Prophet Haggai is sent by God to encourage the people in their work. Speaking to the newly installed governor of Israel, Zerubbabel, and Joshua, the high priest; Haggai reminds the people of the instructions from the Lord. Through the prophet, God asks why they have worked so hard to rebuild their own houses, yet ignored the temple?

“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house [of the Lord] lies in ruins?” – Hag 1:4 AMP

According to Haggai, the very reason for their lack was their neglecting of God’s house. Because of their selfishness, God had removed The Blessing from off their lives, and a curse had done its work.

“You have sown much, but you have reaped little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages has earned them to put them in a bag with holes in it.” – Hag 1:6 AMP

The way out of the curse was obedience. God had specifically sent them to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, yet they had gotten off track on that mission. It wasn’t that God didn’t want them to improve their own houses, but not at the expense of His own.

Much of what Haggai says can also be applied to us today. We have been given a mission from the Lord, to “make disciples” (Matt 28:19). The vehicle used to fulfill that mission is the Church. Although as Christians, we no longer worship at a temple (we ARE the temple), we are still commanded to tithe, support the local Christian community, and be involved in the spreading of the Kingdom (Acts 4:34-35; 1 Cor 16:1-2; Gal 6:1-2; etc).

Unlike the days of Haggai, today we are under grace. But that grace is meant to empower us to obey (not excuse us from it). The Blessing of the Lord comes through our trust in the Lord and obedience to His Word. May you be cautioned by the words of Zephaniah, and encouraged by the words of Haggai – obey the Lord and see The Blessing fill your life.

That is His heart, after all.

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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