Friday, May 14, 2010

Correction or Corruption?

The LORD is 'patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.' So writes the apostle Peter in his second letter. We see that being played out in our next chunk of Zephaniah, as God comes to the end of his gracious restraint and decrees final judgement.

Last time, you may recall, we noticed that the problem of Jerusalem was particularly fierce - the righteous LORD was in the midst of her, but she was unjust, violent, being led astray by the awful leaders. It turns out that throughout Jerusalem's history, God has been providing foretastes of the final judgement. God has been destroying other cities, judging other nations, as a warning to rebellious Jerusalem what will also come to it, but they have been paying no attention.

'I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins; I have laid waste their streets so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant.'

As Jerusalem surveys its surroundings and looks at the near nations, it can see what happens to the evil and unjust. It knows that God punishes sin - but fails to make the connection with their own sin. It's almost as if others are punished so that Jerusalem wakes up and repents, but to no avail.

'Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you. But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt.' (3:7)

God offered correction, discipline to bring them to their senses so that they would repent. The people instead chose corruption - even more evil than before. Hebrews 12 speaks of the discipline of the Lord, how it is not pleasant, and yet is for our good, to make us more like our older brother, Jesus.

Yet how we receive that correction from the Lord depends on our heart attitude - will we be bitter and turn to more corruption which leads to condemnation; or will we receive the correction and turn in repentance?

Jerusalem was making its choice, and turned away. Rather than be corrected and restored, Jerusalem chose to align itself with the surrounding nations, and would end up being consumed in the final fury of God's wrath (3:8). The choice is open to us - correction or corruption?

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