Friday, July 22, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 24, 2016

Over 107,000 readers worldwide

(CHRIST gives us the hope of salvation)
(Romans 5)

   The sin of Adam brought physical death. The Resurrection of CHRIST brought spiritual life. Because one man disobeyed GOD, many people became sinners (Romans 5:12). However, because one other MAN obeyed GOD, many people will be made right in GOD’s sight (Romans 5:17).
    In the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “access”, in Romans 5:2, is “prosagoge” (pros-a-gogue-ay), and it means “to introduce, or usher someone else into the presence of royalty”. It can also be defined as “a safe haven, or harbor”. We have “access” to GOD through our faith in JESUS CHRIST, WHO came into the World, and overcame the World, by way of HIS enduring SPIRIT. We can now rejoice in our trials because we know that those trials are not meant to make us fail, but rather, they are tests, that are meant to strengthen us, and make us better warriors in the army of CHRIST. Trials help us learn to endure, and endurance develops strength and character. Our character then strengthens our hope and confidence in the gift of salvation (Romans 5:2-4).
    In John 15:13 JESUS says that, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV). This gives us confidence in salvation, because, here JESUS is saying in effect, that, from that glorious moment when HE died on the cross at Golgotha, we were no longer just HIS servants, but rather, at that moment, we became HIS friends. By the sin of Adam, all men became sinners and were alienated from GOD. In total contrast, by the righteousness of CHRIST, all men can become righteous, and can be restored into a right relationship with GOD (Romans 5:18).
    Paul says it more clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 where he states, “For since by man came death, by MAN came also, the resurrection of the dead. For in Adam all die, even so in CHRIST shall all be made alive” (KJV). There are two basic Jewish ideas that come into play when reading this passage. One is “solidarity”. The Jews never really thought of themselves as individuals, but rather, they were a part of a chosen clan, a family, or a nation, and whatever happened to one, happened to all. The other thing that comes into play is that, at least in those days, death was considered to be the direct consequence, or result, of sin. The Jews believed that sin was intimately connected with death, and in essence, they are right.
    GOD’s love, however, is not limited to just a select few, and HE proved that when HE extended HIS love to the entire ungodly human race by sending HIS SON JESUS to die on the cross for our iniquities. And since HIS death brought reconciliation to us all, while we were still HIS enemies, we are now reconciled, and should have confidence that HIS sacrifice will complete the work of salvation in us (Romans 5:6-11).
    GOD’s law was given to us so that all people could see how sinful they are. The more people sin, the more abundantly GOD’s wonderful grace and kindness will manifest itself. And just as sin had previously ruled over all people, bringing them to death, so now GOD’s grace and kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with HIMSELF, and resulting in eternal life through CHRIST JESUS, our LORD (Romans 5:20-21).
    Through faith in CHRIST, we can see an ultimate happy ending to the unpleasant circumstances that we now find ourselves in. Faith gives us hope to see beyond our suffering, tribulation, and understanding. Faith enables us to realize how GOD can work a greater good in our lives through difficult times. And we can also rejoice and come to rest in the hope of a glorious future that was prepared for us long ago, by a kind and loving GOD.
   In the coming days, let us each think of someone we know, who may be seeing themselves as being in a hopeless situation because of a recent setback in life. Then, try and come up with some GODLY ways in which you might be able to encourage them in the SPIRIT of hope, which CHRIST JESUS lends to us as Christians. For instance, perhaps we can arm them with a list of scriptures, perhaps from this particular chapter of Romans that may seem most appropriate to their struggle. When a person has hope, they also have peace, and that is true with everyone. Through the power of CHRIST we can be conquerors of all things, even those things that bring us harm and disappointment in this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, July 15, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 17, 2016

Over 106,000 readers worldwide

(JESUS is our sacrifice of atonement)
(Romans 3:21-31)

   The Law of GOD is designed to show man his own weaknesses and sinfulness. Once we learn what GOD wants us to do as human beings, and try to satisfy the law, we just as quickly learn how far we are from being able to do it. Either we feel that we can never completely obey GOD, or, that we have no desire to try to obey HIM. Fortunately for us, the way to GOD is not through obedience to the Law, but rather, it is through faith in CHRIST, and then, it is our faith in CHRIST JESUS, that fuels our desire to do those things that are pleasing to GOD.
    In Romans chapter 3, verses 21-31, the Apostle Paul teaches us how JESUS took our punishment for sin unto HIMSELF and personally delivered us from the permanency of the grave, or “death”, or, “permanent separation from GOD”. Through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, GOD shows us a different way to righteousness than had been taught by the earlier leaders of Judaism in Jerusalem in the first century, prior to JESUS’ coming.
    Obeying the Law, in itself, is not the way that Scripture teaches us how we can arrive at the “righteous state” that will qualify us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, we can’t even acquire righteousness on our own, at all. Christians are granted an “imputed righteousness” through their belief and faith in CHRIST, the only proven RIGHTEOUS ONE. We are made right in GOD’s sight when we trust in JESUS to take away our sins (Vs.21-22).
    We all come to CHRIST as “sinners”, or with “sin experience”, and were already at a deficit, falling far short of GOD’s OWN glorious standards (v.23). Our original nature (GOD’s Nature) that we were born with (made in GOD’s OWN spiritual image) had been damaged, or defiled from the moment we accepted satan’s “sin nature” the first time we disobeyed GOD, after we reached an age of accountability.
    Through CHRIST, a gracious GOD in Heaven is giving us an opportunity at redemption through “no work” of our own. JESUS volunteered to accept GOD’s request that HE come to earth to “take the sting out of death”, which was our punishment for sin. This satisfied GOD’s anger because of our iniquities, and restored us back into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD (Vs.24-25).     
    When, we as human beings sin, we sometimes display “what we think is” amazing “human ingenuity”, as we try to justify that sin. And even through our excuses may sound good, and make perfect sense to us, GOD, is not buying our foolishness. In verse 26 of this third chapter of Romans, we see a good and gracious paradox. Here Paul tells us that GOD is “just” and “fair”, and that, in that incredible, miraculous “grace” that, JESUS came to bring us, GOD accepts the sinner, not as a criminal, but as a son whom HE still loves. Thank YOU GOD!
    Remember, obedience to the laws of GOD is what we can do for ourselves; however, “grace” is concerned with what GOD can do, and, is doing, for us. The Laws of GOD serve to show us, just how far we are from HIS high and glorious standards. It exposes things to us, some of which, we didn’t even know were sins.
    The law shows us, very vividly, our need for grace, and, a SAVIOR. GOD’s grace gives us a chance to escape the bondage of sin, as there is nothing good in our own flesh. The only way for us to be reconciled to GOD is through grace received as a result of our belief in our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
    All of our human acts are tainted by our own sin nature, and thereby, less than perfect, and not acceptable to GOD. GOD’s Law serves to show us our imperfections, and when we are measured by HIS glorious standard, we all come up short.
    Everyone has already been judged by GOD’s Law, and the verdict has been announced by GOD, as guilty. Our “righteousness”, or, “justification”, can never come from our own acts, but rather, it can only come from the distinctive acts of an Almighty gracious GOD in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, July 8, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 10, 2016

Over 106,000 readers worldwide

(GOD remains faithful to a disobedient people)
(Romans 3:1-19)

   In the Greek, the word used for “justification” is “dikaiosune” (dik-ah-yos-oo-nay), and it is “equity in character or action”, or, “righteousness”. However, in the biblical sense, the word “Justification” takes on a dual meaning. First it means that a person is pronounced “not guilty” before GOD, by GOD, and, that that same person is also pronounced as being “righteous” by GOD. However, that person’s new-found righteousness is an “imputed righteousness” that is made possible by the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR, and is not earned by the person who has that righteousness bestowed upon them.
    Justification is a one-time event that happens at the very moment of one receiving “Salvation” from GOD. Then, the process of Salvation or “Sanctification” begins. Sanctification is a lifelong process, by which the “saved” person is expected to become more like CHRIST, with each passing day, in terms of their behavior, and “representation of GOD”, here on earth is concerned.
    The great advantage that the Jews had, at one time, was that they had possession of GOD’s Word all to themselves, and more often than not, they chose not to obey it. Thanks to GOD’s grace, a lack of faith by them, did not nullify HIS faithfulness to them. GOD’s law was never intended to be used by GOD to save us, but rather, it is used by GOD to make us aware of our sins.
    GOD, through the Scriptures, has revealed a righteousness that has nothing to do with the law. And since all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of GOD, all need to be justified by a “Grace Gift” given only to those who have faith in JESUS CHRIST.
    The Jews often misunderstood the meaning of their special position with GOD. Paul believed it was special because with it came with a certain responsibility. He knew the special position didn’t afford them to do what “they” like, but rather, it afforded them with a responsibility to do what GOD likes.
    In verse 2 of this passage, the word Paul uses for the phrase “oracles of GOD”, in his original Greek writings, is “logia”, and it is “a special statement, or pronouncement from GOD”. Here it means the “Ten Commandments”, and here in verses 2-3, Paul is saying that GOD entrusted the Jews with actively keeping the Ten Commandments with their lifestyle and behavior, and not by focusing on them as being endowed with special privileges, whether they obeyed them or not.
    The Jews never quite grasped the fact that, GOD’s “special choice” of them, was made for the purpose of “special duty” and responsibility to HIM. Responsibility is always the “obverse” of privilege. In fact, the more opportunity a person has to do right, the greater their condemnation is, when they chose to do wrong. The root of all sin is disobedience to GOD’s law, and in fact, disobedience to GOD’s law is the very definition of sin. Whenever “pride” sets the “will of man” against the “Will of GOD”, the end result is always “sin”.
    Some people even foolishly believe that our sin serves a good purpose in that we will see GOD’s goodness when HE ultimately declares us innocent of sin after HE forgives those who repent. However, if that were the case then GOD’s punishment for us sinning in the first place, would be unjust, and completely unfair. And if GOD is not “just” and “fair”, then, how is HE qualified to judge the world that HE HIMSELF created (Vs.5-6).
    It wouldn’t make sense for GOD to judge and condemn us if our sins and dishonesty actually highlighted HIS truthfulness and brought HIM more glory. We can only glorify GOD by obeying HIM, not by disobeying HIM. In fact, if we follow and adhere to that kind of thinking and logic (thinking our sin glorifies GOD), we are actually saying that, the more we sin, the better it makes GOD look. Anyone who harbors such foolish thoughts deserves to be condemned (Vs.7-8).
    All races of people are sinners, and the Jews that GOD chose as HIS “figurative representative nation” on earth, are no different. All people who have ever lived in this world were indeed born into “the sinful state of the world” that already had existed since the first man, Adam, was created by the literal hands of GOD. And even though GOD made Adam and Eve perfect in the beginning, they squandered that perfection of “GOD’s Nature”, and accepted instead, the “sinful nature” of satan.
    Since that time no one has been sinless as a human being, except JESUS, no, not even one. No one has had real understanding instilled in them by their parents, and therefore, no one has chosen soon enough to seek GOD earnestly. We’ve all, at one time or another, chosen to turn away from GOD in order to pursue our own will, and as a result, our lives have gone terribly awry (Vs.9-12).
    In verses 13-18 the Apostle Paul gives us a laundry list of characteristics that describes perhaps, the worst case scenario, of one who has chosen to live outside of GOD, or has never experienced the benefits of a life abiding in GOD;

“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
 “They rush to commit murder.

   Destruction and misery always follow them.
 They don’t know where to find peace.”
    “They have no fear of God at all.”  (NLT)

    Laws apply to whoever they are given, in the world, and, in one’s dealings in life under GOD. The main purpose of any law is to keep people from having excuses and to bring everyone into judgment before man, and also ultimately, before GOD, the creator of man. If we judge ourselves first, according to the law, and live our lives in obedience to the law, in the end, we won’t have to suffer the penalty of the law.
    From the day of our first sin, we become labeled as sinners, and we can’t ourselves, un-ring a bell, for only GOD can. Through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, GOD has begun the process of un-ringing the bell of sin, and restoring us back into a right relationship of friendship with HIM. And ultimately, GOD says HE will grant to the believers in CHRIST JESUS, a “new human spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26), and with it, we will be able to enter into, first, the Millennial Kingdom, here on earth, and, into the Kingdom of Heaven, bypassing the White Throne Judgment, in the last day.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, July 1, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 3, 2016

Over 105,000 readers worldwide

(Privilege and responsibility)
(Romans 2:17-29)

   In Romans 2:17-29, Paul takes a look at the basis for which first-century Jews claimed spiritual superiority over Gentiles in those days. He shows how both, Jews and Gentiles, as human beings, break the law of GOD, and also how the claim of superiority by the Jews amounts only to an expression of “raw pride” and “unwitting ignorance” on their part. 
    To the Jews, an announcement such as this must have been quite stunning and hard to hear and accept, in those days. They were absolutely certain that GOD regarded them with “special immunity from the fallout of sin favor” simply because of their national origin, or descent from Abraham.
    Remember Abraham is the towering figure to which the Jews traced their origins as GOD’s chosen people. They saw it as a “privilege” to be born Jewish, but never did quite grasp the “responsibility”, in being the “light to the world”, that their Jewish birthright carried with it. They never really, as a nation, accepted the charge that they were to show the world, through their behavior, that Christianity, or the GODly concept before Christianity existed (the Old Testament), really does produce the best men and women.
    Here Paul shows how a relationship with GOD requires an “inner spiritual circumcision of the heart”, not just the outward, physical act of the circumcision of the male’s genital, to be a member of GOD’s covenant community. Paul reminded them that “circumcision” only meant something, if they obeyed GOD’s laws. However, if they didn’t obey GOD’s laws, they were no better off spiritually than the “uncircumcised” Gentile pagans who lived among and around them. In fact, Paul insists that they were not true Jews, unless their hearts were right with GOD (v.29), and here he suggests that an uncircumcised Gentile, who kept GOD’s laws, was much better off than a circumcised Jew who didn’t (v.27).
    In the Greek, the word Paul uses for “praise” in verse 29 is “epainos” (ep-ahee-nos), and it is “a laudable or commendable thing”. Here Paul is saying that, only GOD determines the righteousness of mankind, for it is not a power that given over to man himself. And GOD’s promises are not just to people of a certain race, or to people who bear a certain mark on their bodies, but rather, HIS promises are to those who believe HIM, and exemplify it through their lifestyles and behavior. In other words, it is not a matter of pedigree, but rather, it is a matter of character.
    We must be right with GOD in our living, regardless, of our race. Jews and Gentiles, in order to please GOD, must act like Christians, in both their private, and public life, at all times. Remember, the real mark of your relationship with GOD is on the inside. It is a “circumcision of the heart”, that is performed by the HOLY SPIRIT, that sets a person apart from this world.
    Our moral nature is the only thing that will ever testify about us to GOD, and our acts are the only real measure of our morality. And when our personal history judges us, it will be looking to see if we were, in our lifetimes, rightly related to CHRIST, rightly related to each other as Christians, and, rightly related to the world which we seek to save from damnation (John 15:1-16:4).
    We should pray daily that we will be able, at all times, to show proper reverence for CHRIST, proper love for your fellowman, and maintain the desire and strength, through CHRIST, to not lose our hearts (minds) to people and things of this world, but instead, worship only GOD, the CREATOR of all people, and all things.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, June 24, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 26, 2016

Over 105,000 readers worldwide

(Ignoring GOD’s plain truth)
(Romans 1:18-32)

   Failure to give reverence to GOD will ultimately result in our failure to treat each other right as human beings made in the image of GOD. The reason why the gospel must be preached is because we, as human beings, continue to suppress the truth about GOD, and, the truth about ourselves.  In Romans 1:18-32, Paul shifts gears, from talking about the kind of relationship into which a person can enter into with GOD by faith, to the kind of wrath we can expect to incur if we intentionally ignore GOD the CREATOR, and choose to worship our own ideas and those things which are created by GOD.   
    To the biblical prophets, the wrath of GOD was a perpetual event that would only culminate, or peak, in terror and destruction in “The Last Day”, or coming “Day of the LORD”. Remember, in biblical times, whenever Israel strayed away from GOD too long, HIS wrath would come against them and whip them back into line with HIS thinking.  And so, we must understand that GOD’s wrath will always, even today, visit us before too long.
    Our human sinfulness is seen quite vividly through our wicked acts, but it is also seen in the way we view and respond to GOD day by day. When we publicly and privately approve things that we know are contrary to GOD’s laws, we show HIM disrespect and rejection. We reject GOD morally, for example, through homosexual and adulterous behavior. We reject HIM in our character through greed and wickedness. We also may reject HIM in our relationships by way of envy, murder, deceit, and malice.
    GOD’s generous offer of salvation is sorely needed by each of us, and, we do, after all, stand rightly deserving of HIS divine wrath and judgment instead.  Most of mankind has rejected GOD, because they simply reject the knowledge of HIM that is available to us through HIS Holy and divine Scriptures. It is very much incumbent upon each of us to pick up GOD’s Word daily, read it, and study it, so that we can come to understand plainly, GOD’s Will, and how that Will should play a role in our personal lives.
    We can all see, quite clearly, GOD’s invisible qualities of divine nature and eternal power, both through HIS creation, and through HIS Holy Word, and, GOD shared HIS “invisible qualities”, or, “divine nature” with us, when HE first created mankind, all those years ago (Rom. 1:20). Those invisible qualities, or, “Communicable Attributes”, that make up GOD’s divine nature are, Life, Personality, Truth, Wisdom, Love, Justice, and Holiness. Those attributes are what make it possible for man, out of all of GOD’s creation, to have a personal, experiential relationship with HIM, and thereby, we have no excuse for not knowing GOD (Rom. 1:20), or obeying GOD, even before we received the HOLY SPIRIT as Christians ( see Rom. 2:14).
    Remember, the HOLY SPIRIT, scripture tells us (Matt. 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:21-22, & John 1:32-34), did not come upon JESUS  until HE was around thirty years old, and HE had perfectly obeyed GOD up to that point, as a 100 percent human being, the same way that we are born. JESUS came to show us first, how it is possible to obey GOD in our natural born state, if we choose to. GOD did not trick us by sending us a “supernatural being” to show us how to live as a “human being”, under HIM, here on earth. HE actually sent JESUS here to function first as a 100% human being in order to show us that we, as 100% humans, can choose to live a life of total obedience to GOD, simply because HE had already placed HIS divine nature in us from the beginning of time.
    GOD is angry at our sin because HE knows that HE made us to do better, for HE made us in HIS OWN “spiritual” image. GOD wouldn’t have been angry at the people of the Old Testament for their sins, if they couldn’t do any better, or, couldn’t help but sin. GOD, from the beginning, made us to be like HIM, spiritually. We know this because JESUS says, “GOD is SPIRIT” (John 4:24) and therefore, this means that GOD doesn’t have a physical image.
    In Genesis 1:26, where GOD says “Let us make man in our Image” HE was not speaking of a “physical image”, but rather, a “spiritual image” consisting of those seven “Communicable Attributes” that I mentioned earlier. They are the “invisible qualities” that Paul speaks of here in Romans 1:20 that, make us look like the GOD WHO created us, spiritually. HE supplied us with those attributes so that we would be able to worship HIM, have a personal, experiential, compatible relationship with HIM, and, in fact, could be like HIM.
    We’ve all lived a sinful life since Adam, but it was because we chose to, not because we couldn’t help it, as most of us want to believe. And we want to believe that because, in our sinful minds, it gives us a palatable excuse to continue to do wrong. However, if we continue to persist in doing wrong things, then, GOD will eventually turn us over to our own shameful desires. And, at that time, our lives will become filled with all manner of wickedness, and we will even begin to invent new ways to sin, in order to enhance our pleasure (Vs 24-31).
    And, even though we are aware of GOD’s death penalty (permanent separation from HIM), because we have, by then, developed a reprobated mind, we will continue on in our sin, and even begin to encourage others to sin also (v. 32). The sin, and sometimes, amoral attitudes, that permeates our society today, and makes our lives so painful to endure, is nothing more than divine judgment on us for rejecting GOD, and choosing immorality over GOD. Our iniquities vividly express our sinful nature, a nature that is adverse to the nature that GOD originally gave us. And it automatically, brings about GOD’s wrath, and subsequent, divine judgment, not just on “The Last Day”, but also, in this day that we currently live in.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, June 17, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 19, 2016

Over 105,000 readers worldwide

(GOD will restore a repentant heart)
(Zephaniah 3:9-20)

   Despite Zephaniah’s underlying theme of judgment and punishment, this short three-chapter book closes on a very positive note, not to say that judgment and punishment are not meant to have a positive effect on us, because they are. However, here in verses 9-20 Zephaniah describes a scene immediately following the Israelites Babylonian captivity, just 70 years down the road, as he announces that, after GOD judges HIS wayward nation, HE will raise up a remnant of faithful believers who will continue to serve HIM as HIS covenant people.
    Looking at this in the eschatological sense, he may very well be describing a time of the “second coming” of CHRIST when HE will set up HIS “Millennial Kingdom” here on earth with a remnant of believers who have stood the test of the tribulations of satan. During those days GOD promises to give those survivors a new “human spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26). Similarly, GOD says here that HE will quiet them in HIS love, and rejoice over them with singing (3:17). At that time, “with Judah’s evil purged”, the LORD will gather them up again, and bring them back safely to their homeland.
    And so we see that despite the failure of that generation, or even ours, and future generations as a whole, to maintain a reverence for GOD, the obedience of a few from each generation are assured of a bright future with the LORD. Our hope in CHRIST, “the Christian Hope”, is not just for this life, but rather, it is for the eternal life yet to come in Heaven. That is why true Christians are not, and should not be “miserable people”, but rather, to the contrary, we are people who retain an unshakable joy, while still living here on earth.
    It is a true fact that JESUS has been raised from the dead, and HE became the first fruit of a great harvest of believers who will be raised to life again, after HIM. And just as death came into the world through Adam, resurrection from the dead, into eternal life with GOD, has been ushered in by JESUS CHRIST.
    Everyone dies because of their “earthly” relationship to Adam, but everyone can live again, eternally, through their “Heavenly” relationship with CHRIST JESUS. Death will be the last enemy of man to be destroyed, or nullified, and so, we must not be fooled by unbelievers, desiring to be like them in the world as ancient Israel did, or, as we still do today.
    Remember, bad company corrupts good character, and so we have to come to our senses and quit living in sin, by coming to know GOD on a personal and experiential, “life saving” level, and choosing to follow after righteousness instead of following after the world (Vs.20-34).
    It is a certainty that GOD will always discipline us when we sin, and sin will always be a seed that will produce consequences, judgment, and death. And while we can always be saved from hell, we can, in no way, ever be saved from the LORD’s judgment, or the consequences of our sins. Our sins must run its course, just as GOD says.
     And so finally, this book of Zephaniah, which had begun so miserably, now ends with a proclamation of joyful promise and praise. In verse 20 of this chapter, the phrase “I will give you a good name”, should serve to remind us that, all that we have and receive from GOD, is ultimately, a “free gift”, for GOD can never owe us anything, and no matter what we do, we can never put GOD into our debt. It is the free gift of salvation, the ultimate expression of GOD’s love and grace that we can’t afford to not accept. It is only because GOD is willing and committed to give, that we are able to escape this dark world, and be able to look forward, with confidence, to a bright future in Heaven in GOD’s OWN glorious presence, where JESUS already is.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, June 10, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 12, 2016

Over 104,000 readers worldwide

(Jerusalem’s rebellion)
(Zephaniah 3:1-8)

   In the opening passage of Zephaniah 3, the prophet announces a three-fold indictment from the LORD against the city of Jerusalem. Those indictments include these three charges;

·         Oppression of its own people
·         Direct rebellion against GOD
·         Defilement of the Temple

    Jerusalem had become a polluted city filled with crime and violence. Her pride had caused her to no longer listen to GOD, and, in fact, they refused any correction from any GODly source, whatsoever. Their officials had become like hungry lions preying on the citizens of Israel, taking them for everything that they could, either by stealth, or by force.
    Their robber judges (dayanneh gezeloths) were like ravenous wolves, who, by dawn, had left no trace of their prey from the night before. Even the prophets of Israel had become arrogant liars, who were out for their own personal gain. And even the priests of the temple were defiled by their shameless failure to obey the laws of the Almighty GOD that they were sworn to serve.
    In verses 6-8 the LORD says that;

“I have wiped out many nations,
    devastating their fortress walls and towers.
Their streets are now deserted;
    their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors—
    none at all.
I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now!
    Surely they will listen to my warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
    destroying their homes.’
But no, they get up early
    to continue their evil deeds.
Therefore, be patient,” says the Lord.
    “Soon I will stand and accuse these evil nations.
For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth
    and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them.
All the earth will be devoured
    by the fire of my jealousy”.

    Here we see that the LORD has already rehearsed HIS actions by punishing the pagan nations that lived around Israel, devastating them, and leaving them desolate, and in some cases, even without survivors. HE wanted to use the judgment of those nations as a warning to HIS backslidden nation of Israel, of what could befall them if they didn’t soon repent and return to obedience.
    The LORD had acted as HE always does, according to HIS OWN righteousness, by judging those nations according to their own wickedness. Still we see a defiant Judah consciously and purposely, if not eagerly, continue to practice their corrupt and evil behavior under the watchful eye of GOD.
    The Israelites mistakenly believed that, because they were known as GOD’s chosen nation, they were exempt from GOD’s judgment. However, here Zephaniah’s prophecy pokes a gaping hole in their prideful delusions, as he vigorously works his ministry to try to alter the fate of his people, from the path of destruction, to the path of righteousness and salvation.
    The Israelites were always careful to remind the nations of the world of the “privilege” they enjoyed as being GOD’s chosen people, but they always failed to realize the “responsibility” that came with that privilege. The city of Jerusalem was not only the political center of Israel, but it was also the religious center of Israel. They also believed that they would be the focal point of the coming MESSIAH, from the line of David, and that GOD’s promise to him, would bring them, both prominence, and peace.  
    However, the Israelites insistence on doing evil, combined with their blatant refusal to learn from the examples by which GOD had judged the nations around them, put the final ingredients into a recipe for their own demise, which would occur in three stages, in 605, 597, and 586 B.C., at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website