Refined By Fire … Who is Zephaniah?

I have recently learned how to pan for gold. It is a slow, and yet, exhilarating process. Finding that tiny piece of gold is kind of nice. What I find most interesting about gold is it never loses its form. When gold is burned it doesn’t go away. It only becomes more pure.

My first gold panning experience in Church Creek, Redding, CA

My first gold panning experience in Church Creek, Redding, CA

When I was learning to pan for gold I was told that they used to use mercury to find gold. Mercury would attach itself to gold so it would be easier to extract. To detach the mercury, you just burn the gold. It’s a faster process but mercury is poisonous to humans so it’s probably not the best process.

I was recently reading the Old Testament book of Zephaniah. Yes, that is in the Bible, I’m not making it up. It’s the fourth to last book of the Old Testament. I mean, who really reads these books anyways?

It turns out to be a pretty good book. Zephaniah preaches against Judah, Nineveh, Babylon, Egypt and the rest of the Middle Eastern countries. He is saying that they all will be destroyed for their wickedness. Guess what? It came to pass. All those countries ended in ruin, and a foreign nation—Greece—conquered and ruled the entire region. A local nation wouldn’t come back into power for hundreds of years later.

Then and Now

What is interesting is that Zephaniah is a two-fold prophecy. That is, it applies to the people of his time as well as the end times. How do I know that? Well, the book talks about the Day of the Lord. This, of course, is about what already occurred but also in reference to the time when Jesus returns a second time.

Jesus referenced Zephaniah in Matthew 25:31, 32 and John referenced it in Revelation 14:5. Both of these New Testament passages are talking about the second coming of Jesus, which is the end of this world. Peter tells us that the end of this world will be destroyed in fire (2 Peter 3:10) so does Zephaniah. Peter also says, “Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It turns out that we are like that precious gold that needs to be burned to be pure. The question is, what needs to be burned off?

Burn Me?

In Zephaniah, the problem was idolatry. Idolatry is not just the worshipping of objects. It is mainly about manipulation. Manipulating the gods (or God) to get what you want. It is about selfishness and greed. No wonder Paul says Idolatry is greed (Col 3:5). Our modern-day idolatry is greed, or, I like to call it manipulating God to get what you want.

Sometimes, we tend to use God to get what we want instead of what He desires for us. We pray and pray and pray to get what we want and, like little babies, throw a fit when we don’t get it. We get mad at God. We threaten to stop going to church and stop reading our Bibles if He doesn’t give us what we want. I’m sorry my friends, but that is the heart and soul of idolatry. Modern day idolatry!

Yes, Please Make Me Pure

Be ready to be refined by fire. You can’t make it into heaven living an idolatrous life. You must have that part of you burned off. It may be painful but it is worth it. Here are some steps that might help you:

1. Understand what idolatry is.

2. Ask yourself, “Am I being greedy? Am I doing this for God or myself?”

3. Stop asking for selfish things in your prayers. Instead ask for God’s will to be done in your life.

4. Remind yourself daily of the need to get rid of idols in your life.

5. Ask God to use you to share this message and help others get rid of their own idols.

Categories: Being a Christian, Gospels, Minor Prophets, Old Testament, Writings & Acts, Zephaniah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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