God's Messengers are Mocked
JUNE 30 - Nº 181 Zephaniah 1 – 3; Nahum 1 – 3; Habakkuk 1 – 3
Unfortunately, there were very few kings in Judah who loved and obeyed God. So God repeatedly sent prophets to urge His people 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. However, there was one notable exception. As a child on the throne, Josiah heard the warnings of a prophet named Zephaniah. 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. Zephaniah’s warning extended to other nations as well. Because of how badly they treated God’s people, many countries surrounding Judah would also experience His judgment. God sent another prophet named Nahum to Nineveh with a similar message just for them—their city was about to be destroyed! Although they had repented during the time of Jonah (see #166 - Jonah Gets Angry), their arrogance and cruelty to other nations had quickly resumed. God would no longer tolerate it. They were doomed! 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. Based on Zephaniah’s prophecies, 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 (see #179 - The Book is Found and #180 - The Golden Calf is Finally Destroyed). 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. They were being hypocrites. 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 wondered why God 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. Finally, in a beautiful song, Habakkuk promised to trust God. He was finally able to relax and rejoice when he allowed God 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?