Evidence That Should Be Evident
The Book of Zephaniah is the ninth in order of the twelve minor prophets. Zephaniah was a descendant of King Hezekiah of Judah and a prophet in the time of King Josiah. Zephaniah was also a contemporary of Jeremiah. His ministry was during the reign of Josiah. In some ways, like Habakkuk, the Book of Zephaniah is a condensation of the major prophecies of Jeremiah. The Babylonian captivity was impending. Though there had been a superficial revival under Josiah, judgment by God was inevitable. The book also looks into the Day of the Lord. The book is in several divisions: (1) approaching judgment, a figure of the Day of the Lord, 1:1-2:3; (2) judgment on other nations, 2:4-15; (3) the reason for judgment on Judah, 3:1-7; and (4) judgment and blessing in the Day of the Lord, 3:8-20.
Zephaniah Chapter 3, where we will be tonight contains three sections: (1) the spiritually backslidden condition of Jerusalem, in verses 1-7; (2) encouragements and mercy, in verses 8-13; and (3) promises of millennial blessings on Israel, in verses 14-20. Now, that is the context of Chapter 3 and while we will deal with part of the context, what we want to see here tonight is a New Testament Truth from the pages of the Old Testament. Because see, you have some that say and teach, well the Old Testament is not for Christians today. I don’t believe that, this whole book is for Christians today and we can still glean some spiritual truths and applications for Christians today without taking the text out of context. And here in Zephaniah Chapter 3, we find such a case.
I would call your attention back to Verse 9 of Zephaniah 3 and the first 8 words of that verse; “for then will I turn to the people”. For a few moments here tonight, I’d like to speak to you on the subject “Evidence That Should Be Evident”.
As we get into the message here tonight, I’d like to share with you two different accounts. One is a story and one is a poem. The first is of Gustav Dore, the famous artist. Mr. Dore has lost his passport while traveling in Europe. He was at a certain boundary post between two countries and the officer in charge asked him for his passport. Dore fumbled about and finally announced. “I have lost my passport, but it is all right. I’m Dore, the artist. Please let me go in.” The officer replied, “Oh, no. We have plenty of people representing themselves as this or that great person!
Here is a pencil and paper. Now, if you are Dore, the artist, prove it by drawing a picture!” Dore took the pencil and drew some pictures of scenes in the immediate area. “Now, I am perfectly sure that you are Dore. No one else could draw like that!” said the officer, as he allowed the great artist to enter the country.
Secondly, we have the poem;
Leonard C. Voke:
Can others see Jesus in you?
Can others see Jesus in you?
For how will the lost know of Jesus
If they cannot see Jesus in you?
I share these two accounts with you so that I may purpose a question to you here tonight. You say you’re a Christian, but can you really produce the evidence? You say you’re a Christian, but can others see Jesus in you? You say you’re a Christian, but what does God see in your life when He looks at you?
See folks, for some Salvation was nothing more than fire insurance. Salvation was nothing more than a fire escape from Hell! For some, Salvation was the end! But oh dear friend here tonight, Salvation was not the end, it was just the beginning of a wonderful, marvelous relationship with the lovely Lord Jesus! After Salvation, we’re commanded to grow in grace!
II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
See folks, after Salvation, there should be some evidence that you’re a Christian. After Salvation, others should see Jesus in you. After Salvation, God should see some characteristics in your life that mark you as a Christian! And here in Zephaniah Chapter 3, we see three very distinct characteristics that God should see in your life and I’d like to give them to you here tonight. And if these characteristics are present in your life, I guarantee you you’ll be the type of Christian God wants you to be and you will do great things for God and Good! Let us notice very quickly here tonight, Evidence That Should Be Evident:
1. Prayers That Are Echoed
Notice the phrase …..that they may call upon the name of the Lord. In context, this verse is talking about that in the Millennium, at the least Israel, and possibly the entire world, will be turned to a pure language. In other words, no longer profanity, vulgarity, or swearing by the name of idols which evidently they did here. In that day, there will be a unity of spirit in serving God. The word translated consent literally refers to a ‘shoulder.’ The thought is how in that day, all will serve God shoulder to shoulder. There will be unanimity of service to God. What’s the application for us today? Simply this; God wants to hear from His people. An Evidence That Should Be Evident in your life are prayers that are echoed! God should see in your life and in my life prayers that are echoed!
James 5:16 says The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
John Hyde Illustration
Leonard Ravenhill once had this to say about prayer:
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.
Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.
Folks, do you ever wonder why the altars are empty, why the Baptism pool sits empty week after week in churches all across America? It’s because our Prayer Meetings are empty! Why don’t we see our friends and family come to Christ? Because of Prayerless Prayer Meetings! Why don’t we see Christians getting right with God, staying right with God, and seeking to please Him in all that they think, say, and do? Because of Prayerless Christians! Why don’t we see the power of God like we once used to? Because of Powerless Prayer!
An Evidence That Should Be Evident, prayers that are echoed! May I encourage you and challenge you here tonight that if you are not one that normally attends Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights, start this week and allow God to see in your life prayers that are echoed!
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
An Evidence That Should Be Evident, not only prayers that are echoed but secondly;
2. Pride That Is Eliminated
In the Day of the Lord (i.e., the Millennium), Israel will no longer be ashamed of the sin of their past. Clearly implied is that initially there will be shame and sorrow for their sin and that is clearly implied elsewhere. You can look up Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 13:6 for that later on. In the Millennial reign of Christ, the proud and arrogant sin of the past will be removed from Israel. No longer will there be the haughty rebellion described in verses 1-4 of this chapter. Jerusalem in that day will truly be the ‘holy city’ in every regard.
So, what does this teach us? God does not like a haughty spirit! Folks, you mark it down, God will never use a person that is high minded with a haughty spirit! Sadly we live in a day and age of self-glorification, self-love, and self-satisfaction!
It’s been said that the Titanic is the third most widely recognized word in the world (God and Coca-Cola being first and second). Yet on April 14, 1912 at 11:40 PM, the world’s largest ship, which had been proclaimed “unsinkable,” struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage. The Titanic received six messages concerning bergs and field ice prior to the collision, but the messages were ignored because the ship was “unsinkable.” So unsinkable in fact, it was even said by an employee that “Not even God himself could sink this ship.” The Titanic folks was truly a ship of pride. And dear friend here tonight, pride will sink and ship wreck the Saint!
Pride was the first sin ever committed when Satan decided he wanted his will to be done instead of God’s will!
Here in Isaiah we find the five “I wills” of Satan. I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. It was all about what Satan wanted not what God wanted! And because of Satan’s pride, he and the one-third of the angels who chose to follow him were cast out of Heaven and into Hell! Pride was their downfall!
And folks may I just lovingly say here tonight that when we get to the place where we think we know everything, when nobody can tell us anything, when things have to be done our way, and when it’s our way or the highway, we are in danger of being overcome with pride and the downfall isn’t far behind!
But someday, as we’re told here in our text, all that will be done away with! We’ll be proud no longer! But folks, how far better it would be if we eliminated our pride now so that we can fully be the Christian God wants us to be! Pride that is eliminated!
Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
I Peter 5:5-6 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
An Evidence That Should Be Evident, not only prayers that are echoed, not only pride that is eliminated, but thirdly and finally here tonight;
3. Purity That Is Exhibited
Very simple context here and that is in the Millennium there will be no sin in Israel. They will be completely sanctified and set apart! As Christians today, we also are to be set apart from this world. Pure from the things of this world! Why? In I Corinthians 4:9 Paul uses the word “spectacle” to describe himself and the disciples. We get the word “theater” from this. It means a public viewing. As Christians and as a church, we are on public display for all the world to see!
Sadly, we have many that want to be more “hip” than holy, more “cool” than Christ like and we’d rather “fit in” more than we want to be faithful! And folks, it ought not to be that way! We’re to be holy, separate, and set apart! Pure in every aspect of our lives as Children of the King! God desires and has made us people that are to be holy, separate, and set apart from this world! There is no getting around it! You can justify what you’re doing all you want but if what you are doing is what this world is doing, than you ought not to be doing it! Plain and simple! A New Testament parallel to Zephaniah 3:11 is I John 2:3-4.
I John 2:3-4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
John is writing to Christians in this letter and in it we find that what is needed in our lives as Christians is obedience. Not perfect obedience mind you because as John said earlier, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves but what he is saying is that there has been a change in our life at Salvation, we were made new creatures in Christ, and it’s because of this change we should not be trying to please and serve ourselves but God whom we claim to love! If we love Him, we will obey Him in all aspects of our live!
I John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
II Corinthians 6:17
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
I Peter 1:16
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
An Evidence That Should Be Evident, prayers that are echoed, pride that is eliminated, and purity that is exhibited.
We now come back to those opening questions. You say you’re a Christian, but can you really produce the evidence? You say you’re a Christian, but can others see Jesus in you? You say you’re a Christian, but what does God see in your life when He looks at you? Does He see prayers that are echoed, pride that is eliminated, and purity that is exhibited? If not, you’re not the type of Christian that God wants you to be! But the good news is that you can be with His help! Would you seek to do that tonight? Seek in your Christian life to have these characteristics present; prayers that are echoed, pride that is eliminated, and purity that is exhibited so that when God looks upon you, you’re the type of Christian God wants you to be!