Friday, December 09, 2005

The Danger of Complacency

As I have been preparing to preach this Sunday I have been wrestling with the text of Zephaniah 1:12. It reads as follows:

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, the Lord will not do good nor will He do ill.

The word complacent in the ESV is a translation of the Hebrew which literal says "thickening on the dregs". The phrase refers to part of the wine-making process. When sediments in the wine are left undisturbed they thicken and setlle to the bottom, it is a word picture that Zephaniah is using to point to the indifference of Jerusalem's citizens toward God.

Oh what a dangerous thing complacency is! In this context it has led to faulty theology. These men who have grown apathetic are now re-interpreting the entire scope of Redemptive History- "The Lord will not do good, nor will He do ill." But the Lord had done both good and ill to His children. He brought them up out of captivity in Egypt, and when many disobeyed in the wilderness He punished them.

And one thing that is easily forgotten is that God does not ignore sin. Bad theology and indifference towards the Lord do not go unpunished. He searches them out in this text- here a poetic language used to indicate that God leaves no one unpunished. Bad theology and complacency may be harder for us to notice but God sees all and knows all and it is not only the public sins that will be punished (as indicated by v. 8) but also private sins.

For non-Christians Zephaniah is a book that calls you to confess that you are a sinner and believe upon Jesus for Salvation, for Christians it is a book that reminds us that God disciplines those whom He loves like a loving father disciplines his children who disobey. It is a reminder that our indifference towards God does not reflect His indifference towards sin!


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