Recently I was reading a book published in 1976 that briefly touched on the growing danger facing the Church. The author spoke of the world turning from the Church and how the Church herself was becoming weaker from the lack of her members turning to the Lord. This was 1976! Now we know that the Church can never be defeated but she is certainly facing the danger of people forgetting who they are in Jesus. We are seeing many flames being put out as the passion is disappearing. We need to hear the voice from the wilderness again calling out, warning us to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
Israel faced the same problems the Church is facing today. People got distracted. Some put all their faith in a king. Others turned to the idols of other nations. Most were only concerned with their own well being. Almost all set aside their devotion to Yahweh. In Zephaniah we find this simple verse in a prophecy spoken against Jerusalem:
She has not obeyed His voice,
She has not received correction;
She has not trusted in the Lord,
She has not drawn near to her God. (3:2)
There is something here we should pay attention to; something we should use to examine our own heart. Today the message is constantly "stay positive". We pastors are told to help people feel good about themselves, about their situation. We are to look for the positive in every situation and emphasize it so their eyes will be distracted from the darker parts. I think we are wrong in such an approach to ministry. There is no healing in this, only avoidance. If pastors want to be good shepherds then we need to help people examine everything to discover Yahweh in it, so we can grow into maturity, not disappear into make believe.
"She has not obeyed His voice." It is hard to obey when we don't know the Word. That is the very first spiritual discipline that should be in place: A healthy relationship with the Word of God. Without the Word hidden in our heart how will we recognize the voice of the Lord? Without the Word how can we know his ways, his path, his truth? Without the Word we cannot know the importance of obedience. Without the Word we cannot know the consequences of disobedience. We need to hear, read, study, meditate on and apply the Word every single day of our life. Meditating on it day and night will bring prosperity and success, according to the Word, but not as some understand it today. If you have such an attitude toward the Word you will make it to the end.
"She has not received correction." Correction is not punishment. Yahweh does not punish, yet. That day is coming but for today he applies correction to his children. Correction teaches us where we went wrong. It teaches us how not to do the same thing again.Correction is a tough lesson applied by a loving Father. The purpose of correction is to increase us not to destroy us. Correction goes against our will and requires submission. If you have a healthy attitude toward correction from the Lord you will grow quickly and steadily.
"She has not trusted in the Lord." The instruction of the Lord is good and it is clear. The correction of the Lord is good and it is clear. But for many of us our trust is insincere. We say that we trust Jesus with our lips but our actions prove otherwise. Almost all of us do what we think is best without any consideration of what the Spirit is instructing. We prove that we trust ourselves over the Lord which is pretty foolish considering the actions of our past. Trust is about relationship and if we are not obeying his voice and not accepting his correction, we don't have much of a relationship.
"She has not drawn near to her God." Exactly! This is the key. Without intimacy there is no obedience, correction or trust. Without obedience, correction and trust there is no intimacy. It is intimacy that Yahweh has always yearned for. Discover the "oneness" that Jesus spoke about in John and you will understand. "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart ..." He is standing and waiting for us, having drawn near to us. Now we have to turn to him and draw near to him. Seek my face, he says, and you will find me.
We are the only one responsible for the condition of our relationship with Jesus. We can't blame anyone or anything else for it's lack of intimacy and passion. Take action to find intimacy with him. Meditate on this one simple verse and ask yourself where you stand with Jesus today.