Text: Zeph 1-3; Rom 8
Summary: Worship means to bow down. If you resolve never to bow down to anything in creation, and instead, to bow down only to your Creator, then you can become more than a conqueror.
Father, thank you for giving us our independence over sin. Jesus, you are the truth and the truth sets us free. So Lord, we ask today that you proclaim your truth over us so that we will leave this place as victors. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Please turn with me to Zephaniah 1.
12 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.’
This verse reminded me of Habakkuk 1:3 that we read last week when Habakkuk the prophet is complaining to God, why do you idly look at wrong? Similar sentiment here. The Lord will not do good nor will He do ill. And when things are difficult, there’s a temptation for us to believe the lie that God is not active. That God, He is a nonfactor. He is not paying attention to our plight. He is letting evil go unpunished. And that is what Zephaniah was feeling, that is what Habakkuk was feeling. And then, starting in v.14, there’s a shift. It’s unlike the other prophets that we covered recently. It’s not focused solely on Judah and Jerusalem. But starting in v.14, the focus shifts to all the nations.
14 The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.
17 I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the Lord. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
And so the focus starts with Jerusalem and Judah, and then it shifts in the second half of Zephaniah 1 to all the nations. Same thing happens in Zephaniah 2. The tension shifts back to Jerusalem. And then in Zephaniah 3, it starts in Jerusalem and then ends with a focus on all the nations. Zephaniah 3 ends with some beautiful verses about victory of the saints and the new heaven and new earth, where we are exalting the Lord. We are rejoicing and the Father is rejoicing over us. Just a beautiful picture in the new heaven and new earth.
My question is, what about in the meantime? From now until we get there, how are we as Christians supposed to live? If you look at the anger of the Lord in Zephaniah and other places throughout Scripture, it is a difficult thing to consider that we may be living in such a time. And if you’re in the final generation of humanity, of human history, it will be so difficult, the tribulation that will come upon us. And so how are we as believers supposed to live out our days?
There are some who say it is going to be so difficult and we will just barely cross the finish line. We will be limping across the finish line. It will be so difficult, we’ll be barely hanging on to our faith and the back of our robes will be scorched because that is how close we came from falling away into eternal fires. Is that how we as believers are supposed to go through our days?
In prosperous days and in days of intense tribulation, how are we as believers supposed to go through 2020 if things go from bad to worse? There have been some prophecies that are being shared on YouTube, so are those going to come to pass? Are things going to go from bad to worse? And we can respond to these prophetic words into things that are happening in society, and we can cower in fear.
And some people are buying guns. Some people are gathering ammunition and gathering their supplies. And that is one reaction because they know that things are going to get so difficult. But as Christians, are we supposed to be fearful? Are we supposed to be limping across the finish line, barely making it, because we’re so afraid? Because at bottom, do we believe the lie that God, He is not looking upon us? That God is idle. He doesn’t look at wrong. He’s just idle, He’s just asleep on the job. It says in Zephaniah 1:12 that the Lord will not do good, nor will He do ill. That is a complete lie.
5 The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.
Did you know every morning, it says that the Lord shows forth His justice? The fact that this world is held together, it may appear barely held together, the fact that evil is put at bay, the fact that we have another day, another day to breathe and to worship the Lord, that is because the Lord is active. Every morning He is showing forth His justice. The Lord is not idle. The Lord is very active. He is looking upon us every day and the needs of His people. We might be looking upon every action of the movers and shakers of this world.
We may be looking at the CEOs of Google and Twitter and seeing what kind of moves they are making. We might be looking at Trump or President Xi in China, or Putin in Russia, we might be looking at the moves of these human figures, instead of looking upon God. And seeing that He is not idly asleep on the job. He’s actively, every morning, showing forth His justice. You read about the anger of the Lord in Zephaniah. There’s a verse about the anger of the day of the Lord, and how the people will be hidden in the day of His anger. Is that the best that we can hope for? That we somehow can take refuge in the Lord.
3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.
And so if we are in the day that the anger of the Lord is poured out upon the nations, it says, perhaps. Is this the best that we can hope for? Perhaps we may be hidden. We may be protected. We may be shielded. We may have refuge in the Lord. Is that the best that we can hope for? Is that how Christians should be, cowering in our home, hoping that the death angel passes by our home? Is that the best that the believer can hope for, that the judgment of God will pass over our home, and because we’re holed up and we’re in our fortress, and we have our windows boarded up because we’re so fearful of what might come in, is that the best that Christians can hope for? Deuteronomy 11 gives us a very different picture of how the Christian should live out our days.
11 But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, 12 a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Again, is the Lord idle? Is He asleep on the job? No, it says that the eyes of the Lord are always upon the promised land, the land that the people of God will soon go into and possess. The eyes of the Lord, from beginning of the year, to the end of the year, He never stops looking upon the land. And why is He concerned about the land? It is because His people are about to enter in. He is that concerned about the people of God. He knows what’s around the corner, He’s never caught off guard. He sees what’s going to come right right around the bend and He’s looking upon it, because He cares for the people. Every day of the year, from beginning of the year, to the end, the eyes of the Lord are upon it. Which means the eyes of the Lord are upon His people.
3 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.
18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall be from the wilderness to[d] the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea. 25 No one shall be able to stand against you. The Lord your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.
Now here’s the other extreme. On one hand, you have the Christian who is going to cower in fear against all the enemies, all the anger of the LORD is being poured out. And you have another perspective here, that as believers, we can be so victorious, that wherever the soles of our feet tread, we will possess it. And then wherever we go, the dread of the Lord will fall upon that place, and they will fear us, because they fear the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to cower in my home in 2020. I want to believe that it’s possible that for the believer, wherever we go, the Lord will give us the land. Wherever we go, the dread of the Lord will fall upon the people of that land, and we will possess it. And God will multiply His blessing upon us. And it’s simple, what the Lord is saying here to God’s people in the book of Deuteronomy, it still applies to this day. That if you love the Lord your God, if you keep His commandments, if you hold fast to Him, all of this is yours in Christ Jesus.
This is not the main point but when the Lord a few years ago had us homeschool, I thought it was such a small thing. And I was assuming that the Lord would quickly move me into a different assignment, because I was willing to do it because the Lord asked me to do it. But I considered it a small thing. But when I reread Deuteronomy 11, it is the assignment for anyone who has children, to obey what it says here. Because when God saves an individual, He doesn’t want to just save the individual. He has the whole entire household in mind. That’s why we read about it in the book of Acts, when someone comes to faith, what happens? The entire household comes to faith and is baptized.
Maybe you were the first person who came to faith in Christ, and with you God is beginning a new work. And He wants to save your household and your children will be saved and then their children will be saved. And that’s how the blessing of God passes from one generation to another. Because before there was a curse upon your family line, and the curse was passed on from family to family, but perhaps with you, there is a new work that began, that God saves you and God wants to save your household. He wants to save your children, and wants to save your children’s children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren. And He wants the blessing of God to pass from you to the generations.
And so it’s not a small thing that we as Christian parents, we reorient our life, because here it assumes that the parents and the children are there together in the morning, they’re together in the midday, they’re together at the end of the day, and they’re always talking about the Lord. It’s just coming up naturally in the course of their day. Because back in biblical times, they’re in the field, or they’re doing carpentry together, or they’re being trained in doing silversmith. Some kind of a trade, they’re working in their home or they’re working on the farm, they’re always together.
And satan is so clever, that he takes what God has created, the strength of the family, and he has broken it apart. Especially in California when the cost of living is so high, you have both parents who are working. And do you have time to share the Word of God in the beginning of the day? Do you have time to share the Word of God in the middle of the day? Do you have time to share the Word of God at the end of the day? Because that, brother and sister, is the assignment for anyone who God has granted the gift of children. Because if you do this, the blessing of God will spread to the generations.
So in 2020, we can cower in fear. Or we can believe what it says in Deuteronomy 11 that we will have victory in every place the soul of our foot treads or touches. That land is ours in Jesus Name. That when people, the enemies of God are coming upon us, they will see the presence of God and they will have the fear of God, and the dread of God will fall upon them, and they will shrink back in fear. We are not afraid, they are afraid. That is the promise of God in Deuteronomy 11.
And there’s a caveat there. It says in v.16., take care lest your heart be deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. That’s the caveat. If you want to maintain this victory, you must never worship other gods. And the word for worship is to bow down, to kneel, to put your face on the ground, prostrate before this other god or idol. A corresponding verse is in Romans 8.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here are probably the best verses that I can find that talk about the mentality of those who know they have victory in Christ Jesus. We are not cowering in fear. And when it says to cower in fear, the picture of it is that you’re kneeling before whatever you’re afraid of. That is the picture. It can be an idol that you’re kneeling before and actually worshiping. But actually here it says, anything in all creation you can bow before. Instead of bowing before our Creator God and Jesus Christ our Lord, we can bow before things in His creation, in all creation. And if you do this, you will cower in fear and fear will overcome you, and perhaps you may shrink back and let go of Christ.
And on the flip side, if you bow down to the Creator God and resolve you will never bow down to His creation or anything in the created order, the promise is that you will be victors. It says more than conquerors, the actual word is hyper-victor, hyper-overcomer, one who prevails completely. And I want to say to you today that in Jesus Name, you can prevail utterly and completely before every situation that comes your way. You have to just know the truth. The truth is we humble ourselves before Almighty God, which means we kneel down, and we put our face on the ground. We are prostrate before Him, and if you do that and you resolve, I will never bow down to the created order or anything in creation, you will have absolute victory in Jesus Name.
Romans 8 ends with v.39, nor anything else in all creation. That means everything that came before is part of creation. Which means in v.35, tribulation is part of creation. Which means that distress, anything that causes you distress in this life, is part of creation. Which means that persecution is part of creation. Which means famine is part of creation. Which means nakedness, danger, sword, these are all part of creation.
And satan wants to intimidate you in the year 2020 through COVID, through bioweapons, through lockdowns, through financial collapse. Satan wants you to cower in fear before creation, before these things that are coming upon us. And it’s like people in Moses’ day and Joshua’s day that they went into the promised land they were afraid because there were giants in the land. And satan is trying to intimidate us with various giants that he’s rolling onto the scene.
And we can decide to overcome it in our faith, or we can cower in fear and worship and kneel before creation. I pray that if things possibly go from bad to worse in 2020, 2021, 2030, 2040, however long the Lord delays in His return. I pray that we will learn this principle. That we will never bow down to creation. We will never bow down to a political leader. We will never bow down to disease. We will never bow down to famine. We will never bow down to financial collapse.
All of these things are tools of the enemy that God permits, because the anger of the Lord is coming upon the nations, not upon His people. We have to get this straight. He’s not angry at the remnant of God. He is angry at the nations. He’s angry at the religious system. He’s angry at deceivers and false teachers and rulers who are oppressing the people. He’s not angry at us. In fact, He may perhaps even hide us in the day of the anger of the Lord.
And when Satan tries to roll out these instruments of intimidation, let us not bow down to them. Let us instead bow down to our Heavenly Father, Almighty God with our head bowed low, prostrate before Him. Our body posture actually matters when we pray. I pray sitting down, I pray walking, but at least Saturday night and Sunday morning, at the very least once a week, I will be prostrate before the Lord because I’m asking Him, Lord, what am I going to say tomorrow?
And always the Lord comes through when I’m laid low, when I actually bring myself lower physically, I’m showing the Lord that even I’m putting my mind lower, I’m putting my position, I’m lowering myself, in all aspects, my soul I’m putting down. I’m deflating my puffed up soul. I’m laying flat on the ground. This is a symbol of my humility before the Lord. And it actually does matter. You have to find times throughout your week that you’re just on the floor. I hope that when we open the Bible, when we’re doing our devotions, the best posture is to hold it in front of us, and then kneel before it.
If you really want to understand and get revelation from God’s Word, you put it on the ground in front of you, and you kneel before it. Our posture matters. We’re telling the Lord, we’re not humbling before the COVID-19 emergency, we’re not cowering before the governors that are trying to shut down our state again. We’re not cowering before a potential financial collapse, or Russia attacking us, or China attacking us. We’re not cowering before these prophetic words. We’re humbling ourselves before Almighty God with our Bibles open. And we’re asking the Lord to speak today. We are never to bow down to anything in His creation. Because we are supposed to bow down only to our Creator God.
1 Peter 5
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
It is your choice whether you humble yourself.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Our problem is our thoughts and our ways are so high. And there’s no room for God to exalt us because we’re already way up there. But if you choose not to bow down to creation and be in fear, but you choose to bow down to your Creator and humble yourself, then God will exalt you. That is the way it works. Instead of us trying to exalt ourselves and trying to get many followers on Instagram and trying to be famous in the eyes of this world, instead, we should disappear. until, when, and if the Lord chooses to exalt us.
Isn’t that the way the Christian should be? That we don’t care about being famous. We don’t care about being anybody in this world, we just care about being humble before the Lord, and if He chooses, then He will exalt us. And it’s not guaranteed that He will exalt us. There are many godly people who are never exalted in this life. But as long as you are humble, there’s a guarantee that in the end, when they’re in His presence, before all the angels and all the saints in the new heaven and new earth, you’re guaranteed everyone who is humble will one day be exalted. Let’s choose today to humble ourselves and bow down, not before creation, but before our Creator. So that when and if He may choose in His good purpose and according to His will, to exalt us either in this life, or certainly in the next life.
Why does it say in Philippians 2 that Jesus is exalted above every name? And everyone humbles themselves, and every knee bows and kneels and worships, and every tongue confesses in heaven and on earth and under the earth, that Jesus is Lord. Why is that? Is it only because He is the Son of God? Is it only because He is obedient to the point of death? Yes, all of that is true. But why is He lifted up and exalted above every name? And why is He the object of everybody’s worship in heaven and on earth and under the earth?
It is because Jesus is the best worshiper this world has ever seen. It is because Jesus bows down to His Heavenly Father. He was equal with God. He was fully God, yet He didn’t grab on to that. He let go. This is what it means to have the mind of Christ, you let go of whatever your thoughts are, you let go of it. Jesus let go. He let go of His thoughts, His rights, the equality that He had with God. He brought himself low, He humbled Himself. And I bet when Jesus was praying by Himself, He was on His knees, or His face was on the ground. He was a worshipper. He worshiped in Spirit and truth. Because Jesus was the best worshipper, because He was the most humble person who ever lived, that is why God exalted Him to the highest place. And every knee bows, every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord.
You want to be exalted in this life? That may or may not happen. But do you want to be exalted in the next life? I pray that yes, everybody says amen to that. Then you and I need to learn how to be humble, not before creation, not before world events, not before political leaders, not before things that cause many people to shake. The nations will shake but the Kingdom of God will not shake, because we have resolved not to humble ourselves before creation, before the worldly kings. Because we have one King Lord Jesus, we have one God, Almighty God. We have resolved that we will only bow down to Him.
And that gives us ultimate victory. And may wherever the soles of our feet tread and touches, wherever we go, because Jesus is leading us, because Jesus is going with us, I pray that we would have absolute victory in His Name. I pray that the enemies of God would see the presence of God upon us and the favor of God upon us, and instead of attacking us, they will shrink back in fear. Because the fear of the Lord and the dread of the Lord will fall upon them. And just like in Joshua’s day, they conquered the nation, I pray that we also would conquer the nation and advance the Kingdom of God in our generation.
And we can have absolute victory in Jesus Name, if we resolve never to bow down to creation. Only bow down to our Creator, the same way that Jesus humbled Himself and bowed down before Heavenly Father, and He was exalted to the highest place, that same principle applies to the believer. Let’s choose today to humble ourselves. Let’s say, my thoughts are too high, Lord, I bring it low today. My ways are too high, Lord, I bring it low today. There is no room for God to exalt us because we’re all already on the throne, but we come down to the footstool of God. We humble ourselves before the throne of God. That is what we as believers, our face to the ground, on our knees, that is where God wants us to be. Let’s pray.
Father, we look at 2020, we see COVID. We see lockdown. We see businesses shutting down permanently. We see the dollar growing weaker. We see potential financial collapse. We see the rumors of war in places around the world. We see the enemies licking their chops as they see America with so much internal turmoil. And before all of creation, and all the created things that we see in 2020, we’re tempted to bow down before these things in fear and intimidation. Lord, thank you for teaching us today not to bow down to anything in creation, in the created order, among created things, even the angels of God, we’re tempted to bow down before them, but even the angels are created things. There’s only one thing that’s not created, it is You, Lord. You are the Creator. So we choose to bow down to Almighty God today.
We bow down before Him. We worship Him. We’re not going to worship idols, or anything in the created order. Help us to bow down only to our Heavenly Father, and resolve to live for Jesus. Forgive us for our pride of our thoughts, the pride of our ways, we bring them low today, Lord. We humble ourselves in your presence. We bring our thoughts and our ways down low. We bring our puffed up soul, we deflate it in your presence. We bring ourselves low, with our knees kneeling before you, and our face to the ground. Lord, you’re not idle in 2020. You’re looking upon the nations, especially you’re looking upon your people. You’re seeing how we will respond and who we will bow down before. May it be only you, Lord.
I pray that you would teach us how to be victorious in 2020 and beyond, until we see you. Give us victory in Jesus Name. There is victory in Jesus Name. We thank you for the blood of Jesus that was poured out at calvary. We pray that you would cover us and cleanse us, in our body, soul, spirit, mind, will, and emotion. We pray that we can be united under the banner of Christ. As churches across this earth are gathered in your name, help us to be united under Christ. Because as things get more difficult, we’re going to need to support one another and we can’t be divided if we’re going to stand in these final days and hours. Help us, Lord. Give us your victory as we bow down to you and you only. Give us victory, Lord, today, and in the days ahead. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen