THOUGHT FOR MEDITATION AND PRAYER
We shall read from “The Mount of Blessing,” page 180, paragraph one. The reading is based on the scripture which says, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye?”
M.B., pg. 180 – “Even the sentence, ‘Thou that judgest doest the same things,’ does not reach the magnitude of his sin who presumes to criticize and condemn his brother…. When he thinks he has detected a flaw in the character or the life, he is exceedingly zealous in trying to point it out; but Jesus declares that the very trait of character developed in doing this un-Christlike work, is, in comparison with the fault criticized, as a beam in proportion to a mote. It is one’s own lack of the spirit of forbearance and love that leads him to make a world of an atom…. According to the figure that our Saviour uses, he who indulges a censorious spirit is guilty of greater sin than is the one he accuses; for he not only commits the same sin, but adds to it conceit and censoriousness.”
Satan is doing his level best to make us transgress in this respect so that we lose out eternally. God has delegated no one to be policing another. Only God through His prophets is to reprove sin, but never to use force of any kind.
Shall we kneel now, and pray for a realization that our duty is not to criticize others or to magnify their faults, but to speak and practice the Truth? Further than that, Brother, Sister, we need not go. The rest is up to our audiences and associates. Let them decide for themselves what is best for both soul and body. Truth need not be poked down the throat.
Let us turn to Zephaniah 3, and begin with the first verse.
Zeph. 3:1 – “Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!”
The antecedent of the pronoun “her” is found in the thirteenth verse of the preceding chapter. In it is seen that the “city” here pointed out is Nineveh, the capital city of ancient Assyria. Now to ascertain whether this Nineveh is actually the capital city of ancient Assyria or of some other Assyria, we shall study the remaining verses of the chapter.
Verse 2 – “She obeyed not the Voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God.”
This verse points out the fact that the city and nation here mentioned had the privilege of hearing the voice of Inspiration, of knowing God’s Truth, but has failed to take heed – received not correction, trusted not in the Lord, drew not near to her God.
Verse 3 – “Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.”
Her princes, being like roaring lions, must be frightful persons who evidently think “might makes right.” Her judges are, as it were, evening wolves; that is, they are in business, not to execute judgment, justice, and righteousness, but to catch and tear, to fill their den with prey although they may have more than they know what to do with. “They gnaw not the bones till the morrow.”
Verse 4 – “Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.”
In the language of today this verse would read, “Her teachers are light-hearted, not serious and sober-minded; they are trifling; they are of no account; they are treacherous persons. Her ministers, rather than having kept the church clean, have polluted it, and have done violence to the law” (have declared It void).
Thus far is seen that the Assyria of this chapter represents a people who have been well instructed in the things of God, the law and the sanctuary. But instead of obeying the Lord and ruling justly and righteously, they have greatly transgressed, have gone down into sin as deep as any people can possibly go.
Verse 5 – “The just Lord is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.”
In view of the fact that God is in the midst of them, they must be well informed in the things of God, well aware that in due season He makes known to them His judgment. In view of all these, the only possible conclusion one can come to, is that God’s church must be in their midst.
Verses 6-8 – “I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. I said, Surely thou wilt fear Me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings. Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.”
The Lord Himself warns that He has cut off nations, that He has made their towers desolate and their streets waste, that He has destroyed their cities and has left no inhabitants in them. He points out that all this He did as an object lesson for future good, so that they as a nation might fear Him and receive instruction, that their dwellings not be cut off. But in spite of these examples, they rise early and corrupt all their doings. So it is that at long last the Lord arises to the prey, gathers the nations, assembles the kingdoms, and Assyria gets her punishment.
From this we see that the Assyria under discussion exists in the time of the end, the time in which the great and dreadful day of the Lord takes place. This Assyria, therefore, is an antitype of ancient Assyria just as the Babylon of Revelation 17 and 18 is an antitype of ancient Babylon.
Assyria, charges Inspiration, is a rejoicing city that dwells carelessly, that says in her heart, “I am, and there is none beside me.” Zeph. 2:15.
At this point let us pause a moment and summarize the characteristics by which this modern Assyria is to be identified. (1) As man looks at things, she is so great that there is none like her. She is well instructed in the things of God. (2) She is oppressive, a hard ruling nation. (3) She has polluted the sanctuary and has declared the law of God void. (4) She has piled up wealth by going after it as an evening wolfe goes after its prey. (5) She harbors the church of God. (6) She exists in the time the Lord is to manifest His power and destroy all the wicked nations. (7) She is an Assyria-like nation, widespread, a nation of conquests.
There is but one people under the sun that answers to all these descriptions, and that people is, of course, the English-speaking people, in whose midst is the church, and from whose midst the Gospel and the Bible flow out to all nations. As clear as language can make it, the burden of the prophet Zephaniah is for the English-speaking Christian world.
God is now saying to Assyria’s capital city, “Indeed, you are doing all these abominations, but you will not thus continue long. The time is at hand.” Put a stop to your absurdities.
Verse 9 – “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.”
Inspiration for certainty declares that after Assyria receives her punishment, and after the wicked are taken out of his church, then will the Gospel be proclaimed in a pure language (in pure Gospel Truth) that whosoever will, may call upon the name of the Lord, “to serve Him” with heart and soul. Then it is that “only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will have a right to proclaim it [Third Angel’s Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.” – “Review and Herald,” Nov. 19, 1908.
Verses 10, 11 – “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My suppliants, even the daughter of My dispersed, shall bring Mine offering. In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against Me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of My holy mountain.”
When the Gospel is proclaimed in “a pure language,” then even from the ends of the earth God’s people will come with an offering to the Lord.
Having removed all who rejoice in her pride the church shall be haughty no more.
Verse 12 – “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.”
The fact that He leaves in their midst poor and afflicted people is sufficient evidence in itself that the purification of the church takes place before the Millennium, before Isaiah 33:24 is fulfilled and before He sets up the kingdom mentioned therein.
Verse 13 – “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
The remnant, those that are left after the purification takes place, shall sin no more. They shall forever thereafter stand without guile in their mouths.
Verse 14 – “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.”
A great day is coming for the righteous, a dreadful one for the wicked. We, therefore, as children of Zion, are encouraged to sing and shout for joy because we have finally come to the time of God’s great deliverance.
Verse 15 – “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.”
Surely these revelations of prophecy should encourage every believer to shout with joy as he realizes that the day in which he shall no more see evil is right at hand, that the Lord is to be his only king.
Verses 16-20 – “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.”
The Lord wants us to know that when He turns away our captivity He will also make us a name and a praise among all the people of the earth. This kingdom of Judah (the church purified and set apart), is therefore, not only pre-millennial, but also probationary. And how glad we ought to be for the privilege to be among the first of the first fruits.
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