SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2012.
HOW TO ESCAPE GOD’S IMPENDING JUDGMENT
DURING the reign of King Josiah, Prophet Zephaniah spoke concerning the impending judgment of God against the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all who do not truly worship Him.
Destruction was coming because Judah had forsaken the Lord. The people worshipped Baal, Molech and the stars of heaven. Even priests mixed pagan practices with faith in God. God’s punishment for sin was, therefore, on its way.
In His anger He said: ‘I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth, I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist… I will put an end to idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear.’
When the Israelites arrived the Promised Land, God commanded that they rid the land, completely, of pagan inhabitants. But they failed to do so. Gradually, they began to worship gods of the Canaanites. The Canaanites believed in many gods, each representing different aspects of life. The chief god was Baal. God was extremely angry when His people turned from Him to worship of Baal.
People have worshipped idols throughout history. More than just a statue, an idol is anything that is reverenced more than God. Idol worship is, therefore, prevalent today. People trust in themselves, money or power. But, ultimately, all idols will prove worthless and the true God will prevail.
Believers are encouraged to seek God first (Matthew 6:33) and have no other gods beside Him (Exodus 20:3). Failure to do so, Zephaniah insists, will bring down the judgment of God on His people.
God would search the city with lanterns and punish the deserving because they did not search their hearts, were content with moral chaos around them, and were indifferent to God. God would use the Babylonians to judge them. Within 20 years, the Babylonians entered Jerusalem, dragged people out of their hiding places , and took them captive or killed them. No one can escape God’s judgment.
Today, some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather. Nice to have around but not a real force in shaping modern life. They don’t believe in His power or His coming judgment. But God is holy. He will, therefore, judge and justly punish everyone who is content to live in sin and is indifferent towards Him, or unconcerned about injustice.
When people are indifferent to God, they tend to think that He is indifferent to them and their sins. They will be surprised to find that the ‘terrible day of the LORD is near.’ And His judgment will surely come to pass.
How can a child of God, in this sinful world, escape the impending judgment of God? St. Paul says: ‘there is no other name by which men can be saved except the name of Jesus Christ.’ (Acts 4:12) Do you know Him? Does He know you too? Think about it.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.