Thrown to the Wolves

June 10, 2010 at 8:55 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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To “throw to the wolves” once meant to divert attention from, as in the story of the young bride and groom who were flung from a fleeing sled to keep the pursuing wolves busy while the other occupants of the sled escaped. Another origin of this phrase is found in one of Aesop’s fables, in which a nurse threatens to hand her charges over to a pack of wolves if they continue to misbehave. Today, this phrase is used to refer to being abandoned or dismissed to a bad fate.

Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.

Ezekiel 22:27, emphasis added

Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

Habakkuk 1:8, emphasis added

Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

Zephaniah 3:3, emphasis added

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Mathew 7:15, emphasis added

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Mathew 10:16, emphasis added

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3, emphasis added

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Acts 20:29, emphasis added

The character of Biblical wolves can best be described as “ravening,” a word which from comes from the root “rave,” and which used to mean: to show signs of madness or delirium; wild conduct; aggressively boisterous; furiously rabid.

Thus, the strong Bible command to beware of false prophets. Inwardly they are ravening wolves. This refers mainly not to future-telling prophets, but to religious preachers and teachers who have ulterior motives. One reason to beware is that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a duty to defend our fellow Christians. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, will hold off a whole pack of wolves, and can even wound them and drive them away.

Right in the Middle

January 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Zephaniah | 9 Comments
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Don’t you just love the King James Version of the Bible? Okay, maybe you don’t, but you should. It is simply the best, most accurate, most God-honoring translation of God’s Holy Word for people who speak English, bar none. Let me encourage you to read it, meditate upon on it, and ask God to use it to speak to your heart.

Many of God’s Old Testament prophets were called by God to pronounce warnings, judgments, and even condemnation and wrath upon God’s people and upon the enemies of God’s people. However, these prophets consistently ended their prophecies with words of hope. The prophet Zephaniah was no exception. In Chapter 3 of the book that bears his name, he describes God’s workings in a place that the King James Bible translates as “in the midst.” Other Bible versions use words like “within” or “among,” but the phrase “in the midst” has a connotation of God not only being positionally in the middle of His people, but metaphorically and realistically in the middle of their troubles. God is not only omnipresent in the sense that His Spirit can be found everywhere in this universe, but He is also intimately acquainted with every trouble we are going through. Sometimes when we are in trouble, we speak of being “stuck in the middle.” God is not “stuck,” but in every difficulty of life, He is right there with you, “in the midst.”

Let’s look at a few of the actions of God as He operates “in the midst,” in Zephaniah Chapter 3:

Ruling in the midst is the Lord.

The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not…

Zephaniah 3:5

The Lord is such that, no matter how bad the trouble, He will never do wrong, or be unjust.

Removing the prideful from the midst, the Lord will not share His glory with anyone.

…I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

Zephaniah 3:11

Remaining in the midst by the Lord’s power will be the people who have put their trust in Him.

I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Zephaniah 3:12

Reigning as King in the midst shall be the Lord.

…the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

Zephaniah 3:15

His rule in the midst will not be temporary. He will reign for ever more.

Redeeming and Rejoicing in the midst, the Lord shall save His people right where they are, and He will be joyful, as is fitting and right, over His Own might.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Previous posts on Zephaniah:
Don We Now Our Strange Apparel
Trouble at the Threshold

Trouble at the Threshold

January 11, 2010 at 10:16 am | Posted in Zephaniah | 4 Comments
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I have a pet peeve about people stepping on the thresholds of doorways in my home. Normally, there is some sort of rubberized weather seal in the doorways that lead outdoors, and the more these seals are stepped on, the more they are damaged and the more drafts of air they let in and out of the house, driving up my heating and cooling costs. Normally, when someone steps on the seals going in or out (and people almost always do it), I will just let it slide. However, there are a certain group of people who visit my home fairly regularly, and these particular people absolutely LOVE going in and out of the house constantly. Not only that, but they make it a point to ALWAYS give a good stomp down on the weather seals in my doorways. And – I kid you not – their favorite place to STAND while they are visiting my home is RIGHT IN the doorways. They will get a cup of coffee or a snack, and mosey on over to the door, open it up, place their feet squarely on the weather seal, and just rock contently back and forth with their full weight pressing down. Sometimes I joke with my wife that I’m going to post Verse 9 of Zephaniah Chapter 1 on the wall by the doors when these folks come to visit: “In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.”

Actually, though, the phrase “leap on the threshold” in that verse really means “jump over the doorway.” There was a Philistine tradition against doing this in the place where the false god Dagon was worshiped because of what had happened in I Samuel 5. Zephaniah 1:9 also means that the ungodly Jewish priests leaped at the chance to confiscate lands from the poor, and to give them to the temples of the false gods.

Understanding that helps us better understand Zephaniah 1:11: “Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.”

The howling in pain would not just be because the market district would be destroyed. “Maktesh” has a double meaning. It also means “mortar,” which is a bowl, or a conclave in the ground near Jerusalem, and a place where things are ground to bits. The bowl just holds objects. God does the grinding, the crushing.

Zephaniah Chapter 2 goes on to describe the day of judgment against the gentiles.

Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

Zephaniah 2:5

This is God’s way of saying, “I have a warrant out for you.” We want to warn the lost that the Word of the Lord will be against them if they do not repent.

Zephaniah closes out his prophecy in Chapter 3 with words of comfort, which is common with the Old Testament prophets. God never leaves His people without comfort.

The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

Zephaniah 3:13

God tells the people that, when He has removed their sin, they will find comfort in fearing Him – and no one else will make them afraid. This applies not only to the Jews, but also to gentiles. God’s people will be converted into “one people” – truly one nation under Christ.

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

Zephaniah 3:9

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