Dr. Jack Hyles
THEME: "Warning to the Righteous During a Time of Revival."
The minor prophets from Hosea through Zephaniah all dealt with period of time before the captivity. However, there were at least three different types of prophets. Some of the prophets warned Israel while she was in sin that she would turn from her sin, she could be forgiven and restored; if she would not, would be punished. Then there were those prophets who lamented. Judgment had already been pronounced. There was no way that God would change His mind, and the prophet lamented. Zephaniah had a unique place among the prophets during the period be the captivity. He prophesied during a time of revival. Josiah was the king, and revival was in progress. Zephaniah prophesied to the people who were righteous warning them of what would happen if they drifted from God. Back in the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel was given two commissions from God: (1) to warn the wicked man to turn from his wickedness, and (2) to warn the righteous man not to go into wickedness. Medical science would call this "preventive medicine." Zephaniah prophesied to people during the revival, telling them what would happen if they turned away and went back into sin.
There are two things that the church is supposed to do: (1) reclaim the sinner has gone into deep sin, and (2) help the person who has not gone into sin to avoid pitfalls. Sin is not supposed to be condemned only when it is present; we supposed to warn the people of sin.
In Zephaniah 3:1-7 he exposed the sinful. In Zephaniah 1 he reminded them of judgment that would come if the nation went into sin. In other words, Zephaniah was doing what we try to do to our young people who have not yet tasted the bitter end of sin. He was reminding the people never to go into sin in the first place. They were in revival; yet the awfulness of sin was exposed so the people would stay away it.
It is wonderful for us to hear the testimony of people who have been delivered from deep sin. It is infinitely more wonderful for us to hear the testimonies of people who have never gone into deep sin. This is what we want for our young people of First Baptist Church. (Teacher, explain to the young people that that is why we preach hard against sin. It is not always because we are afraid young people are already in sin, but because we want to paint sin so black that they will never want to go into it.
Let us notice the time during which Zephaniah was written. It was a time of revival under King Josiah. Let us notice several things about the conditions of the day.
I. JOSIAH WAS ONLY EIGHT YEARS OLD WHEN HE TOOK POWER.
Read II Chronicles 34:1. Hence, Josiah had to have much counsel. He was a young child king. The priest Hilkiah was his great counselor. (Teacher, explain to the young person importance of having counsel. Talk about the cabinet composed of a Christian who is in the profession he plans to enter, his pastor, his parents, a friend, etc. He should always counsel with these people before making decisions of any importance.) Josiah could have said that he could make his own, but he realized his need for counsel.
II. JOSIAH DID RIGHT AND WALKED STRAIGHT.
See II Chronicles 34:2. (Teacher, stress the importance of our young people walking straight and always doing right. Right should be done regardless of the consequences.)
III. IDOLS WERE BROKEN.
Notice II Chronicles 34:3-7. The idols were ground to powder, torn down, etc. (Discuss here the importance of having nothing before God. An idol can be an idol of wood or stone; it can also be a habit, a pleasure, work, etc. Nothing should come before Christ!)
IV. JOSIAH HAD THE TEMPLE REPAIRED.
See II Chronicles 34:8. True revival is always built around the House of God and the repairing of it. Today we have the New Testament church, a body of believers meeting regularly for fellowship, for the study of the Bible, and for the edification and the propagation of the Gospel. When true revival comes, it will not be outside the church--it will magnify the church and be built around the church! (Teacher, stress the importance of building one's life around the church and its activities.)
V. THE BIBLE WAS FOUND!
II Chronicles 34:14,15. Here is an interesting thing! The Word of God had been lost in the House of God. While they were cleaning up the House of God, they found the Bible. This is always the case. When the House of God is full of sin and filth, the Bible is lost. When cleansing comes, the Bible always becomes important to the people again. It is sad that the Bible can be lost in the House of God. Revival is always built around the Bible.
VI. THE PEOPLE REALIZED THEIR SIN.
See II Chronicles 34:18-21. Notice, there was the cleansing of the House of God, then there was the finding of the Bible, now there is the realization of sin. The Bible is the mirror that shows us our need of cleansing. The people realized their sin.
VII. THE PEOPLE MADE A COVENANT WITH GOD.
Read II Chronicles 34:31, 32. They gave themselves to God and covenanted to serve Him. This is always the fruit of revival. Service is the result. The Bible itself is not enough. All of these are simply means to the end of service for Christ and doing things for Him.