Tuesday: A Corrupt City

A Chinese proverb says that the darkest spot in the room is located right under the candle.

Image © Frank Gampel from GoodSalt.com

Image © Frank Gampel from GoodSalt.com

This proverb could be applied to the moral state of Jerusalem in Zephaniah’s time. The prophet just has completed the pronouncement of divine judgments on Judah’s neighboring countries (see Zephaniah 2) such as Philistia in the west, Moab and Ammon in the east, Cush in the south, and Assyria in the east. Yet, he does not stop there. He proceeds to expose the sins of those who dwell in God’s own city on earth, Jerusalem itself.
Read Zephaniah 3:1-5. Who is being condemned, and why? Ask yourself, How could God’s people, those given so much light and truth, end up so corrupted? How can we protect ourselves from having the same thing happen to us?

The capital city of Judah lies at the heart of Zephaniah’s concern. He indicts its leaders concerning the city’s moral degradation. The corruption stems directly from the failure of its leaders to live up to their designated roles and responsibilities (compare with Jer. 18:18Ezek. 22:23-30). The corrupt court run by officials is likened to “roaring lions,” and the judges are characterized as “evening wolves.” The temple is faring no better because the priests do not teach God’s Word, nor do the prophets speak the truth.

“During the reign of Josiah the word of the Lord came to Zephaniah, specifying plainly the results of continued apostasy,and calling the attention of the true church to the glorious prospect beyond. His prophecies of impending judgment upon Judah apply with equal force to the judgments that are to fall upon an impenitent world at the time of the second advent of Christ.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 389.

Look around. However alluring, the world is doomed to ultimate destruction. One even does not need to believe in the Bible to see how easily this destruction could happen. Why is the Lord our only hope, and how can we learn to lean on Him more and more and not trust in the vain and empty things of this world?

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Tuesday: A Corrupt City — 14 Comments

  1. There are so many storms, floods tsunamis, and catastrophes happening all around the world daily. Anyone that cannot see these as signs that the earth will be ultimately destroyed, does not want to see it. The lesson is right when it says that even non believers can see the doom of this earth. Believers, we need to wake up tell others about Christ's soon return, and make sure that we are ready and living lives of holiness. Let's pray for one another that we not get caught up in the allure of this world.

  2. Yes, Franka! so true! Looking to Jesus is our only hope of obedience and salvation. He is the One Who can help us depend fully on Him and reach out to those in need around us. So much trouble, so much to do and so many distractions! Still, Jesus is there and we can focus on Him.

  3. Non believers can see the doom of this earth, This is true, if we look at what is happening right now it does not need an interpreter to interpret, you can read it on you own and understand. So lets help the non belivers about this. The Lord is around the corner

  4. Indeed that's the truth Franka and Jackie, what true and loving words those are. Indeed the Lord is with us, its such times that should encourage us even more to dwell on the word of the Lord for we see that the end time is at hand. Though, may also live willingly and unashamed so to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that His second advent is at the door. Behold!!! We live in the times that were prophesied ages ago, just by acknowledging that, people ought to commence in true repentance and let God reform and revive them. Amen.

  5. Have there not been signs over the many years. As a 4th Generation Adventist, I have heard this message from various family members and struggle to remain hopefull.

    • I think that many of us who are 4th, 5th, or 6th generation Adventists struggle with the same issue. The sense of urgency continually repeated wears thin - just as in the story of the boy who cried "wolf". One of the issues is that we continually see "signs" that we think are indicators, but 30 or 40 years later, those signs have passed, together with the sense of urgency that they provided at the time.

      The delay has caused me to reflect on our purpose and often I think that in some respects our focus on the second coming as the "ultimate solution" has blurred our need to live our Christianity in the present. All too often we are focused on our own salvation, when there is a need to focus on how we can make Christianity relevant to people now. In some respects our belief in the second coming has been selfish, with us wanting it to happen so we can embark on the "great heavenly retirement plan". Just maybe the real solution is to think about how we can relate Christianity to our community now.

      I think that Christ will return, in His own time, and that being ready is part of being Christian. But I am reminded that Jesus gave the admonition to "occupy till I come"! In that respect I am happy now to help make heaven a little closer and more real for people within my sphere of influence.

  6. God is coming soon and He is coming for reformed people, so let us to be ever ready to receive Him

  7. There is a perception that the message we are supposed to get from these lessons is that Jesus is coming soon and that destruction is on the way. I am not sure that it what these verses are saying. I think some of the comments are more an Adventist reflection on the verses, rather than an interpretation. That is not wrong but we need to be clear about what we are doing.

    A recurrent theme in the minor prophets is that God's people are not doing their job properly and there are calls to genuine repentance. If there is an application for us today, what do we have to repent from?

    Here is a thought: Maybe we have to be less concerned about our rightness and more concerned about our relationship. Could it be that we are so concerned with proving that we are right, that we are not communicating our message. Let me illustrate:

    When I was a kid I was a right royal pain in the backside. I read books, and absorbing information came easily to me. I easily outstripped most of my fellow pupils at school who only read comics, and could not remember which ones they had read the next day! At every opportunity I would express my knowledge. If someone made a statement and I knew it was wrong, I would tell them it was wrong and proceed to give them the right answer. I was not very popular at school except when it came to team quizzes, when my peers knew that if I was on the team, the team would win. It took me a long time to work out that being right was not as important as I thought it was. I eventually learned that showing off knowledge was not wise. Sometimes it was in the best interests of all concerned to let people be wrong for the sake of building relationships and maintaining friendships.

    Maybe that is our problem as Seventh-day Adventists. We are so concerned about letting everyone know that we are right and that we have the most well thought out world view possible that we fail to build relationships. We face a world that is hostile to "Christian information", but maybe they would respond to building Christian relationships.

    I wonder if that was part of Israel and Judah's problem.

    • I really enjoyed reading your post. You made some great points. I do agree with you. I think as Seventh Day Adventists we are taught that our religion is right because it follows the Bible more than any other religion. By knowing this we may not approach others the right way and don't build the relationships that are needed. We may even push people away just by the way we approach them. Relationships are key! Our relationship with God as well as with others is the most important thing!!

    • I appreciate your post, Maurice. I think too often our concern for others is to make them an Adventist rather than building that relationship. The young mother I am having Bible studies with has attended our church infrequently. Recently, while having our Bible study she announced that she and her husband were attending one of the Sunday churches. She has four small children and says they have child care. She says she isn't able to get anything out of the sermon when she attends our church and has the four children to contend with. Now I know that we church members should have been there for her and I will have to say that there were members who tried to help her with the children, but I also know that helping and being completely free of them are two different things. So with that being said, my prayer for her as we study is that the Bible truths will go deep in her heart and I must leave it up to the Holy Spirit to bring forth the harvest in His time. Meanwhile, I will continue to study with her and be her friend.

  8. The world is at high speed, leaving the Sodom generation far. Therefore the only hope is in our Lord Jesus.

  9. I think I can very much identify Judah and Israel's problem with today's current Adventism. We mostly focus on pointing out how wrong other non-believers are instead of doing our commissioned work. Matt 28:19-20 "Go ye therefore and preach..." Are we preaching or condemning? This lesson comes to remind us that in as much as we think we know God, we are surely distancing ourselves from Him and that means we may be getting a message of doomsday. At times like these, when everything is inverse, the devil raging in full force left, right and center, when all the signs and wonders show that the descent of our Lord is not far....We need to be the Zephaniahs of today, we ought to pray harder, no matter how sinful we are, that we may do the Lord's work. God will fix the rest if we come to Him with a true heart and mind of repentance. We are the carriers of the message of a blessed hope, let us live up to that call! God bless

  10. I agree w/the last few comments prior to mine. The minor prophets declare destruction and the second coming of Christ, yes, but I think the most important point made is how not to behave and how to behave. All the behaviors deal w/our relationship with God and with man: righteousness, justice, mercy, love and humility.

    The lesson asks, "how can we learn to lean on Him more and more and not trust in the vain and empty things of this world?" One answer is for Christians to contemplate 1 Corinthians 8:3 at the end of each day and ask themselves if it is true of themselves.

    1 Corinthians 8:3
    But if one loves God truly [with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing], he is known by God [recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him]. (AMP)

    At the end of the day, does God recognize YOU?

    May God have mercy on our souls.

  11. Am much concerned with this week's lesson more especially on tuesday. We as sdas have greater light and God is expecting us to do more (Luke 12:48) but unfortunately many of us who knows the truth are doing contrary to God's expectation. Am really shocked with Matthew 12:43-45. Its my humble prayer that we should change/reform completely and not be hypocrites. We have a greater opportunity, just like jews we are in danger if we do not utilise it. Lets pray hard, hesitate not to His call and cogitate His words. AMEN.


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