Don We Now Our Strange ApparelDecember 28, 2009 at 10:58 am | Posted in Zephaniah | 5 Comments
Tags: Bible lessons on Zephaniah, counterfeit revivals, Hezekiah, Josiah, Malcham, modern worship, Sunday School lessons on Zephaniah, teenagers in church, youth groups, Zephaniah 1
If the Hezekiah in Zephaniah 1:1 is “King Hezekiah,” then the eponymous Zephaniah was the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah. In any event, we do know that the minor prophet Zephaniah ministered during the reign of King Josiah, and that Josiah led the nation of Judah in what looked like a spiritual revival. He found the Book of the Law and sought to enforce it.
However, the “revival” may have been just a government-enforced or peer-pressure-induced outward show. We see this sort of thing in churches today. One example is youth camp meetings. A group of teenaged children will spend Friday and Saturday night at a retreat, playing games, listening to “Christian rock,” and supposedly getting “fired up for the Lord.” They will show up during the Sunday morning service, and go racing back and forth like stampeding cattle in front of the church, showing how “on fire for God” they suddenly are. There will be a great deal of pressure among them to do what everybody else is doing, and then all of their parents and the “church elders” will give them pats on the back and laugh it up at their shenanigans. They will be allowed to play around with the church’s microphones, instruments, and sound equipment, like little kids set free in dad’s tool shop, and everybody will congratulate themselves on how “we’re really reaching the youth for Jesus.”
But a few days later these worldly teenaged children are back to their old stunts. You will not see them showing respect for their elders, helping with church clean-up, opening doors for ladies, or doing any heavy lifting. You will see no fruit of growth in the Word, no sign of a prayer life. If you offer to get up a “youth activity” trip to the movies or a party, they are gung ho, but they will have no desire to start up a Bible study or go door-to-door soulwinning. This is because they have been conformed, and not transformed.
So, we cannot be sure if the “revival” of Josiah’s time was real or was just this sort of outward show. But if it was in fact genuine, then Zephaniah may have been that rare thing – a prophet whose message was actually heeded. Since Zephaniah does not mention the “revival” of Josiah (but since we know he preached during Josiah’s reign), it may be that his prophecies had an effect on Josiah.
I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;
Baal was the false god whose priests had been slain by the prophet Elijah. Chemarims refers to the priestly robes which were supposed to be white for Jewish priests, but which were now black due to the influence of the pagan priests. It also refers to the zeal and enthusiasm of their unholy worship, as they tried to show how “wild” they could get.
God had prescribed worship of Himself to be done in order. The false priests could make a lot of hay by saying, “That sort of God-prescribed worship is boring. You need to get free from that. Oh, we’re still going to worship Jehovah – but we’re going to use the contemporary tools and methods – and we are going to get wild.” This technique was very seductive, and it’s very seductive today.
And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;
The false priests deliberately brought the idea of angels into their worship, so that they could still claim they worshiped something close to God. They shouldn’t have been swearing by the Lord and by Malcham at the same time – any more than I should make a vow to the Lord and to Allah. Can you imagine someone at a Christian wedding taking his marriage vow before God and Allah at the same time? Or a deacon standing up in a Christian church to pray over the offering in the name of God and Allah?
God did not take this lightly.
Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.
It was as if God was saying, “You want to invite ME to a party for Baal? For Malcham? I’m preparing something for you – hold your peace – shut your mouths – you’re going to be My guests now…”
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
Zephaniah 1:8 (emphasis added)
The priests would be sorry they had ever worn those black robes. Will there be modern Christians who will be sorry they wore that skull and crossbones t-shirt even though they slapped the name of Jesus on it? The false priests were suddenly confronted with the hypocrisy of all their Ammonite and Moabite fashion-wear which they had bought at Spencer’s in the mall of Judah. God calls these mixed-message garments “strange apparel.”