Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Clean Sweep

It's the time of the year for spring cleaning. The windows can be opened to let the spring sunshine in and some fresh air through the house. The house can be tidied and cleaned from top to bottom. A fresh start for the spring and summer.

As we begin to look at the book of the prophet Zephaniah, we find that God has promised a spring clean as well. Zephaniah is a prophet in Jerusalem, during the days of Josiah (1:1), but the clean sweep isn't far away:

"I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the Lord. "I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth," declares the Lord. "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the Lord, who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him." Zeph (1:2-6)

Jerusalem was dirty, not with dust or grime, but through the sins of the people. Jerusalem was a mess. The people who were God's people had turned away, following other gods, led astray by the false priests, the idolatrous priests. They had 'turned back from following the Lord' and weren't seeking him any more. Instead, they were running after false gods and idols, Baal and Milcom.

Jerusalem would be swept clean. The judgement was sure and would be carried out.

Looking back from our position in history, we can see how this was accomplished. Jerusalem fell to the army of Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar. The temple and city were left in ruins, a clean sweep, as it were.

Yet it appears as if the prophet's warning wasn't fully accomplished. After all, while Jerusalem was swept clean, the whole earth hasn't been swept clean. The beginning of those words of warning declares that God will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth. That hasn't happened yet. Nor has mankind been swept away from the face of the earth. That hasn't happened yet.

No, but just as the sweeping clean of Jerusalem happened, so one day the sweeping clean of the whole earth will also happen. Just as those who sinned in Jerusalem were punished, so also will all who sin on the whole earth be punished. Zephaniah (in the next verse 1:6) describes the time of the (coming) fall of Jerusalem as the day of the Lord. From our perspective in history, we also wait for the day of the Lord, when the risen, reigning Lord Jesus will return as King and Judge, and the earth will be judged and cleansed, before new heavens and new earth are formed, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3: 13).

The clean sweep of the sinful will shortly begin. Will you stand firm or be swept away?

No comments:

Post a Comment