"Shameless people, change your lives before you become like a dry and dying flower. In the heat of day, a flower will wilt and die. You will be like that when the Lord shows his terrible anger. So change your lives before the Lord shows his anger against you! All you humble people, come to the Lord! Obey his laws. Learn to do good things. Learn to be humble. Maybe then you will be safe when the Lord shows his anger." Zephaniah 2:1-3 (EVD)
Zephaniah was an Old Testament prophet known for quoting, "The Day of the Lord is coming.." (NIV); "Because the Lord's day for judging the people is coming soon!" (EVD). Zephaniah, most of you probably have never read this part of the Old Testament prophecy, had confronted God's people, Israel (Jerusalem) with rebuke and encouragement. Yet, Israel continued on to sin against God. If you read the next chapter, "Jerusalem, your people fought against God! Your people hurt other people, and you have been stained with sin! Your people didn't listen to me! They didn't accept my teachings. Jerusalem didn't trust the Lord. Jerusalem didn't go to her God." Zephaniah 3:1-2 (EVD)
If you remember, at the beginning of this Blog, the Lord had a conversation with Zephaniah about a "flower" that may, again with emphasis, "may" fall and wilt. This is very similar to the teachings of Jesus when He told His disciples the parable of a Sower in Matthew 13. If you fix your eyes on one Scripture, "But when the sun rose, it burned the plants. The plants died because they did not have deep roots." (6) We understand the seed as the Word of God. The soil is our heart. So it all depends on your heart: hard, rocky, infested with weeds or soft. God had to deal with the heart of Israel. Their hearts were hard as they fought against the command of God. They refused to listen to the prophets of the Lord Most High. See how Jesus felt when He approached Jerusalem:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Matthew 23:37 (NIV)
My! Jesus knows the heart of God's people. He weeps for them. He aches in His heart because of their ignorance. They aren't understanding the whole point of God's divine plan. They didn't take His Word deep in their hearts.
What happens, then, when people remain "unchanged" in their hearts. "The Lord said, "So just wait! Wait for me to stand and judge you! I have the right to bring people from many nations and use them to punish you..." Zephaniah 3:8 (EVD) But when we do change our hearts and keep on changing for the glory of God, "Then, Jerusalem, you will no longer be ashamed of the bad things your people do against me. Why? Because I will remove all of those bad people from Jerusalem. I will take away all of those proud people on my holy mountain. I will let only meek and humble people stay in my city (Jerusalem). And they will trust the Lord's name. The survivors of Israel won't do bad things." Zehpaniah 3:11-13a (EVD)
"All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Matthew 25:32 (NIV)
When we live a constantly changing lives for the glory of our Lord, the Lord is with us. He loves a heart that keeps on changing for Him. When we learn and accept His teachings, His teaching changes our attitudes and hearts. When we help other people make good decisions, this shows we're different from the world. When we fear the Lord, we show a changing lifestyle. God wants us to respect Him and His Word.
"The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much he loves you. He will show you how happy he is with you. He will laught and be happy about you, like people at a party." Zephaniah 3:17-18 (EVD)
When we show a "changing life" before the world, the world will return to the Lord with praise! Change your lives, people!