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.’
When we think of the issue of the punishment of God, we often think that his punishment is reserved for those who commit crimes which we consider heinous. We generally have no problem with God punishing murderers, rapists, and other such evil folks. In recent days, we may even have a new category for God punishing corporate executives who give themselves golden parachutes while their companies seek government bailout monies.
The problem is, we do not have God’s mind on what is an offense and we fail to grasp what God will punish. But here in Zephaniah 1, we see something that most of the world would think is unconscionable. God is not only going to punish the offenders we consider vile. God is also going to punish people who are simply apathetic toward him. Those who do not consider God are in danger of his wrath. Those who do not think God takes action in the affairs of humanity are targeted by God for judgment.
The Bible is the perfect revelation of God. If we turn away from the Bible to try to come up with who God is or how he chooses to work, we deny God and come up with a false god of our own imagining. When we try to subject the Bible’s depiction of God and his ways to our own approval or disapproval depending on what we like or dislike, we arrogantly attempt to stand in judgment over the Holy One. Such arrogance is deadly.
Though many in the world will not approve of God judging those who are complacent toward him, they are not the ultimate authority. God is our Creator, our Master, and the only Righteous Judge. He will judge based on his standards, not ours. And he will, as he promises, judge those who do not care about him one way or the other.
Christians, this passage of scripture should grab our attention and pierce our hearts. There are far too many people around us who simply do not care the least little bit about the Lord. They are not safe in their apathy. They are in grave danger. It is our job to continually warn the apathetic that God is, that he is our judge, that he is willing to forgive, and that we must come to him through Christ to be forgiven. Indifference is not allowed. We need to do all in our power to get their attention, to present the truth of God’s word to them, and to plead With God to bring their dead hearts to life.