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In Zephaniah 1:12-13 the prophet addresses the masses, the rest of the nation.
“12 “And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil.’ 13 Therefore their goods shall become plunder, And their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”
God says about the people that they are being complacent. There is corruption and sin all around them but they just don’t care. They are indifferent. They are lukewarm. The people have seen the idolatry of the priests and even joined in and followed their example. They had seen the princes’ abuse of power. They had seen the merchants’ deception. And they settled into a spirit of apathy. They gave up caring. God’s Word and His Ways did not matter to them anymore.
Have you ever been there? You have seen injustice and evil and wondered how or why God allows it to go on and on and on? Have you been to that point where you come to believe it hurts too much, it costs too much, it is just too much work to keep caring? While to us that may be understandable, to God it is detestable!
God says He is going to search Jerusalem with lamps – there will be no place to hide. Those who are complacent are characterized by saying “The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.” In other words, God doesn’t care so why should I? Do you see how this is a direct attack on the character and nature of God?
When people adopt this attitude they are in danger of losing everything! God tells them all that they have is going to be taken by others. Some will have built a brand new house and won’t get the chance to live in them. They can plant vineyards but will not be around to drink the wine produced. This is an echo of Deuteronomy 28:39, “You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” This is the curse for disobedience.
God is warning the people, their complacency and their tolerance of corruption and sin will bear fruit, it will have consequences, and they will not be good.
In talking about complacency we see that there are three types of complacency we need to watch out for.
The first is procrastination. This is where the people see and recognize sin but put off doing anything about it.
The second is self-indulgence. This happens with those who think that they are not what is wrong with the nation and so they are just going to take care of themselves to the neglect of their neighbors. They find a way to profit from the evil without actually participating in the evil so they tolerate wickedness for personal gain.
The third is a spiritual complacency. It is an attitude that attributes complacency to God and if He doesn’t seem to care, why should we bother? This is a slander against God.
God now tells the people just how bad judgment is going to be. Some of this sounds like what we studied last week in Revelation. We see in verse 14-18, “14 The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. 15 That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. 17 “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.” 18 Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the Lord’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.”
What a day! Wrath, distress, devastation, darkness, gloominess. Loss of the nation and loss of life. There will be no way to buy your way out or to escape. We cannot pay to remove the wrath of God – that is why Jesus had to pay it all!