Monday, November 17, 2008

Consecrated and attired in the robes of Christ.

The Twenty Seventh Day of Pentecost
Zephania 1:7-16
Bror Erickson

[7] Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
and consecrated his guests. Zeph. 1:7 (ESV)

The Day of the Lord. Zephania compares it to a sacrifice that the Lord has prepared, one for which He has consecrated His guests. Zephania is an interesting prophet. Short read, you might go home and read the whole book this afternoon. Take you about 10 minutes. Then you can pat yourself on the back for having read a book of the Bible. It has 3 chapters. Zephania was a prophet during the reign of Josiah, who initiated religious reforms in Judah. Things had gotten so bad under the previous kings that no one remembered what the temple was for. Here in the middle of Jerusalem was a huge temple that at one time had been dedicated to God. It was where God dwelt among his people. It was where God met them with grace and mercy, where the people would go to sacrifice their sheep and eat with God. It was a glorious temple. Yet the people had forgotten what it was all about. It happens that Josiah thinks maybe this temple needs to be cleaned up and repaired, a little paint here and there. He collects money to have it all done, and when the secretary goes to give the money to the high priest, the High Priest says, “hey I found this book.” Things had gotten so bad that the people didn’t know what the book was. The king had it read to him, and tore his clothes in repentance. That is the power of the word, it kindles repentance it brings about faith, and gives life to dry bones. Which is why I recommend you read it.
Things had gotten bad in the days of Josiah, when Zephania became the prophet. The people worshiped all sorts of gods. Baal, and so on. It was awful. But perhaps you don’t see it. You see people thought that the temple worship was boring, and routine, because it had order, and reverence and awe, and all the trappings of a king’s court. But the worship of idols was exciting. Imagine the best party you have ever been to. Idol worship was like that. It was sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And lots of it. So the people enjoyed it, especially in their late teens and through the twenties. And if you didn’t know any better why not? Sounds like fun to me, at least to my Old Adam. I keep trying to drown him, but he keeps floating back to the top of the bowl.
In reality things back then were a lot like they are today. Just a mess. And I am not talking about the way society is. I’m talking about the church. I’m only talking about among those people and institutions that would have you believe they are Christian. It is a mess! The most popular forms of “worship” today are nothing but rock concerts with a self help “sermon” designed to boost your self esteem, or tell you how to get richer. No, there aren’t topless pole dancers or cult prostitutes yet, but they are coming I’m sure. Most of that sort of thing happens afterward. I’ve known guys who went to church to pick up chicks as if it were a meat market. They tell me they have better luck getting what they want their then at a bar. I’m not joking. Partly because the pastor hasn’t had a sermon condemning sexual sin in his entire ministry, too afraid he might offend sensitive ears. He is too busy trying to tell everyone how good they should feel about their sinful selves. I’m telling you it is a disgusting mess out there. So-called churches condoning homosexual behavior. Seriously blessing same sex unions, and what not. There are churches out there right now protesting proposition 8 in California, and calling the people who voted for it bigots. So called Christian institutions out there that haven’t cracked open a Bible and read it in 50 years or more. If they have the pastor has been quick to couch everything, so the true force of it doesn’t come through.
Then Joziah gets the book of the law. He reads it and tears his clothes. People think I am insane for thinking things can change. I keep thinking, it has happened before, Zephania’s day, the reformation, God can do it again. We just need to read His word, and preach it, His law and His Gospel. However, we can’t keep sugar coating it. We need to let God’s word speak and say what it is saying. Either that or the day of the Lord will come and come soon. Zephania said it was near in his day. The Lord had prepared a sacrifice.
A sacrifice, a slaughter. Zephania compares this day to a sacrifice. The day of the Lord’s sacrifice, when He will punish. The day when those who have not been consecrated as His guests will be slaughtered. Oh, some would say that Zephania is talking about the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus. Oh that was awful the accounts of that written in Josephus, the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. are horrifying. They will make your stomach curdle. I tend to believe they are right. He is talking about that day. The accounts of what was predicted and what actually happened that day are to close to discount. But I do believe that day also reflects the final day of the Lord. No one escaped Titus. The whole city was razed. Leveled that is. No stone was left on top of another stone. People had been starved out so long they began to eat their own children. When the soldiers came in they slaughtered everyone in the city of peace, (that is what Jerusalem means) man woman and child. So it will be on the last day when God starts His sacrifice, His slaughter.
It will not be pleasant for those of this world, the unconsecrated ones, who make their home in an earthly Jerusalem.
God has consecrated us. He has made us sacred. That is what the word means. To set something aside as sacred. We are His guests at the sacrifice, to share the perfect sacrifice with Him, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World. God consecrated us to be His guests at this meal when he baptized us, When the Holy Spirit came upon us in the water and the word and sanctified us. We are his guest now clothed in robes of righteousness through faith. And because of The sacrifice of his Son we will be spared the sacrifice of the last day. Because of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, our Jerusalem is the city above.
For that sacrifice will be a day of slaughter, a slaughtering of goats who wear foreign attire. Given the robes of righteousness in faith, the beauty and glorious dress of Christ’s blood and righteousness, the people strip themselves down, and put on the robes of self-righteousness. They dress themselves in the attire of this world, and not the attire of their homeland that is in heaven. The attire of this world. Zephania describes it here. The attire of this world is theft, violence, fraud, and complacency, believing there is a God, but that he will neither do good or ill. The houses of those who dress like this will be plundered and laid waist. Only those who have put on Christ will enter heaven, where the Father’s house has many mansions waiting for you and me: [27] For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27 (ESV) For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us. ( 1 Thess. 5:9-10 a)
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.

1 comment:

steve martin said...

They say that 'clothes make the man!'

I guess they are right. But not our clothes. Not the filty rags we think look beautiful and are pleasing to God.

Only His clothes are pleasong to God. Only His clothing is acceptable and Good. "Jesus only."
That ought to be the new catch phrase for the Church. "Jesus only".

Bumper stickers anyone?

Another home run, Bror!