“And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, 'The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.' Therefore, their goods shall become booty, and their houses a desolation; they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine. The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly…" (Zephaniah 1:12-14).
Have you ever felt like you were “stuck in a rut”? Being “stuck in a rut” is an idiom going back to the days when people traveled by horses and buggies. The wheels of a buggy traveled in the ruts worn into the ground by other buggies making it easiest to go exactly the way all the other buggies have gone before. We use the idiom “being stuck in a rut” to refer to a type of boring, habitual behavior.
Spiritually, do you find yourself being “stuck in a rut”? Do you find yourself not growing spiritually, but instead just “going through the motions” in your walk with God?
The prophet Zephaniah prophesied during the days of King Josiah of Judah (Zephaniah 1:1). King Josiah was a righteous king who instituted many great reforms in trying to bring Judah back to the Lord’s ways (2 Kings 22:1-23:25). It is believed by many scholars that the ministry of Zephaniah helped to encourage these reforms by King Josiah.
However, King Josiah’s father, Manasseh, had done much evil and provoked God’s wrath as he worshipped idols, engaged in child sacrifice, and even had the audacity to set up idols in God’s Temple at Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:1-9). As the opening verses above indicate, during Manasseh’s reign God’s people had become “settled in complacency”. They no longer respected or feared God, but said in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil” (Zephaniah 1:12). Through Zephaniah’s ministry God was going to make it very plain to them that they were dreadfully wrong in their thinking.
There was a “great day of the Lord” that was soon coming where God was going to show forth His terrible judgment upon those who had become complacent in their hearts (Zephaniah 1:14-18). God warns His people that they had better seek after Him before this event happens: “Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord's fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger” (Zephaniah 2:1-3).
Some, like King Josiah, would heed this warning and be hidden from this great day of the Lord’s wrath. Not only would these be hidden from God’s wrath, but they would be part of a remnant of God’s people that would once again enjoy God’s blessings: “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing’ " (Zephaniah 3:17).
I want the Lord to “rejoice over me with gladness”, not to be disappointed with me because I have become “settled in complacency”. I acknowledged it is very easy to become stuck in a spiritual rut. This is why it is essential that I strive daily to renew my mind spiritually (cf. Romans 12:1-2). Today, I will strive to not travel in the ruts into which others may fall, but allow God to direct me in His paths as I travel on the road that leads me closer to Him (cf. Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 119:105).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19).