by Bonnie Scasta, Women’s Ministry Director
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill. -Zephaniah 1:12
Zephaniah begins his prophesy with a litany of sin committed by the people. These sins, if not repented of, will result in God’s judgment. The above verse attests to the complete nature of this list for God Himself searches Jerusalem for those whose hearts are far from Him. Specifically, He looks for those who believed him to be an aloof, inactive participant in our world. This perspective calls into question God’s agency, his ability to bring blessing or curse. While it could be easy to quickly brush past this verse, I think that many of us can view God in this very way.
I will admit it can be hard at times to believe that God will bring blessing into our lives. Life can be painful and it can feel like God is completely inactive. Circumstances do not always turn out the way we hope or dream and many of our struggles manifest in such palpable ways that it causes us to think that they will never get any easier. The battle can be hard, but we have to believe in the hope we have in the gospel, that God will bring about full redemption for His people.
However, complacency is not only thinking that God will not bless, but also that He will not do ill. This is the belief that God will not bring punishment, discipline, or consequences for our sin. This thinking says that sin can be managed, hidden, or present in our lives without any negative effects. James 1:15 is clear that our unchecked desires birth sin and sin brings forth death.
So, do you believe the Lord is going to do good for you? Do you believe that He blesses His children? Do you take your hopes and desires to Him trusting He will hear you and give you the desires of your heart?
But, do you also believe your sin has life altering consequences? Do you know that you will be held accountable for every sin in your life? Are you concerned about the way your sin effects not only you, but those around you?
Understanding that our sin brings forth death can and should be alarming, but our hope is found in our perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. Zephaniah even later alludes to this at the end of the prophecy when he says that one day “The Lord [will take] away the judgments against you.” Zephaniah placed his hope in God, knowing that He would one day provide some way to completely remove his sin. Jesus is that way for all who believe. He took on the punishment for our sin, and then places His perfect righteousness on us as we put our trust in Him. He wants us to see the weight of our sin so that we will see our need for a Savior and run to Him for rescue.
Are you struggling to believe the Lord will act in your life? Ask the Lord to look into those dark places in your heart and to reveal your unbelief. Ask Him to show you where you do not believe He will bless you. Ask Him to reveal to you your sin with the full weight of its consequences. Then confess and repent so that you can receive His great grace today.