181 - God’s Messengers Are Mocked
JUNE 30 - Nº 181 Zephaniah 1 – 3; Nahum 1 – 3; Habakkuk 1 – 3
God commissioned a prophet named Nahum to speak to the people of Judah about the coming destruction of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. Although the Assyrian leaders had repented more than a century before, during the time of Jonah, their arrogance and cruelty to other nations had resumed. As a matter of fact, they had wiped out the northern kingdom of Israel, and now they were especially hostile toward Judah. God refused to tolerate their behavior any longer. They were doomed! Nahum’s prophecy contained the details of their coming destruction, and it gave great hope to Judah. A prophet named Zephaniah also prophesied to countries surrounding Judah about coming judgment. Since they continued to mistreat God’s people, they too would soon experience His judgment. But God’s own nation of Judah was growing more and more wicked as well. So, God repeatedly sent prophets to urge them to turn back to Him. These messengers warned of severe consequences if Judah continued to worship false gods. Most of the prophets were ignored or mocked; some were even put to death. Very few of the kings chose to listen to or obey God. However, there was one notable exception. As a child on the throne, Josiah had heard the warnings of Zephaniah to the other nations as well as the ones focused on Judah. Zephaniah was a distant relative of the young king and probably had access to the palace. He proclaimed that, because of Judah’s wickedness, a day of great judgment was coming. He said that the people of Judah would be led away as slaves and their land would be destroyed, because they refused to get rid of their false gods. Although judgment on Judah was now unavoidable, Zephaniah’s prophecies offered hope to God’s people. All who chose to humble themselves and obey God’s commandments would be sheltered from His anger. One day they would be brought back to Israel, and God would return to live with them and bless them. Josiah decided that it was not too late to initiate reforms in Judah. He tore down the altars and destroyed the idols his people bowed down to. He renewed Judah’s covenant to worship the One true God and to follow the Laws recorded in the Book that had been discovered by the high priest. (We talked about this in the last episode.) Under Josiah’s reign, Judah seemed to experience a tremendous revival. However, a prophet named Habakkuk noticed that many of the people who lived in Judah were not sincere. Their actions were hypocritical. Outwardly they complied with Josiah’s reforms, but inwardly their hearts had not changed. This upset Habakkuk very much, so he had a conversation with God. God told him to record their discussion. The prophet began by complaining about the injustices he saw. He asked God why He allowed wicked people to get away with doing bad things to good people. God explained that He was fully aware of the hypocrisy in Judah and that He had a plan to bring it to an end. When the time was right, He would send the Babylonians to destroy the nation. Habakkuk was shocked – he didn’t like this strategy at all! Why would God use a nation that was even more wicked than Judah to punish them? God explained that He was completely aware of Babylon’s sins and that He had a plan to deal with them as well! Meanwhile, Habakkuk’s role was to live faithfully and leave the details up to Him. It was a struggle for him to do this, but in a beautiful song Habakkuk promised to trust God. Regardless of the circumstances, Habakkuk was able to relax and rejoice when he trusted God and allowed Him to be in control.
When we faithfully obey God’s Word, we don’t need to fear what is going to happen in the future. God will handle all the details justly and righteously. Do you trust Him? Are you able to relax knowing that He is in control?