Zephaniah 1:14-17

The Tribulation period is associated with God’s dealings with the Nation of Israel, not the church which is the Body of Christ. This tribulational week of years is “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Understanding this should answer, once-and-for-all the question, “Will the Church, which is the Body of Christ, go through the Tribulation?” NO!! The “Seventieth Week” is not called the time of the Church’s trouble.

Remember, it was Israel who said, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Mt. 27:25). This, along with the other reason listed in this study, brings the wrath and judgment of God upon Israel’s head. The Tribulation period will be an awful time of judgment. The bloodshed and warfare will be so intense and widespread that, “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Mt. 24:22).

The good news is that the Tribulation will have a cleansing and sanctifying effect. The Jews, living at that time, will acknowledge their sin (Zech. 12:10), and “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25). Praise God!

Now, we shall pick up our study where we left off when we terminated Part 1.

(8) Followed a faulty value system (Isa. 2:7-8). Israel was entrapped by the kind of thinking and living that sacrificed the eternal for the temporal. Their priorities were all wrong. God’s commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5) had been set on the back shelf. Israel was content to pay lip service to God, while their hearts were moving farther and farther from Him (Isa. 29:13). The mistake Israel made was to think that they needed something more than the Word of God, It may be their thinking was like that of modern man who believes that his security or success depends on having more money, more possessions, or more government control, etc. The Apostle Paul would have reminded them, as he does us, that in all things Christ must have the “preeminence” (Col. 1:18).

(9) Hardened their heart (Jer. 19:15; Hos. 5:4; Ezek. 3:7). Like the hands of a working man, the heart of the rebellious Israelite grew calloused with the passing of time. They hardened their hearts as in the days of the “provocation in the wilderness” (Heb. 3:8) until they were “past feeling” for God. God gave them up (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:28), even as He “gave up” the Gentiles because unbelief had hardened their hearts (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).

(10)  Succumbed to drunkenness and drug addiction (Jer. 13:13; Isa. 28:1, 7). An escape from reality! Drunkenness proved to be the perverter of all moral conduct and character for Israel.

(11)  Apostasy in the pulpit (Jer. 23:9-40; 2 Chron. 15:3; Isa. 56:9-12; Lam. 4:13-14). The profane prophets and priests taught what the people wanted to hear, not what the people needed to hear. The people needed truth and compassion to bind up their wounds and make them strong. BUT, the pagan pastors of Israel destroyed and scattered the flock “by their lies and by their lightness.” These ancient theological liberals, like their modern counterparts, taught the lying imaginations of their own heart and not the council “out of the mouth of the Lord.” For these, God reserves His worst condemnation (Hos. 4:9).

(12)  Corrupt political leadership (Isa. 3:12-15; 9:16; Ezek. 22:6-7). Israel was dead at the top. If the head is corrupt, then the body becomes corrupt. Everything rises or falls on the quality of leadership! A tried and true principle—then and now! It is true in all walks of life—business, home, sports, etc. It is certainly true in politics and government. As goes the national leadership, so goes the nation.

(13)  Widespread crime and violence (Ezek. 7:11, 23-24; Hos. 7:1; Isa. 1:21). Death, mischief, destruction and fear stalked the streets of the ancient world.

(14)  Complete moral and spiritual breakdown in all segments of society (Hos. 4:2; Ezek. 22:1-12, 24-31; Jer. 7:8-10). Character, justice, honor and righteousness are gone. The foundations of Israel’s society and nation are gone. Corruption, like leaven, infuses the whole nation from top to bottom. No one is exempt, not even those most thought of as being most impeccable.

(15) Failed to keep the conditional clauses of the covenants (2 Kgs. 17:15; 18:12; Isa. 24:5-6; Jer. 34:18-20). The Nation of Israel has been given specific guidelines for the operation of the Kingdom. These guidelines are called the Covenants, which had two divisions—unconditional clauses and conditional clauses. In the conditional clauses, God said in effect that “if you will do this, then I will do this.” This is illustrated in Deuteronomy 27 and 28 and 30:1-6. The history of Israel is replete with Israel’s cycles of obedience and disobedience. The Tribulation represents the final cycle in Israel’s disobedience and judgment (Lev. 26).

(16)  Fallen into pride (Jer. 13:17; Ezek. 16:49; Isa. 2:9-17). The proud heart will not bend even when it knows the consequences of its disobedience. God’s Word proves this to be true: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).

(17)  Neglected evangelism (Isa. 43:1-28; 56:3-8, cf., Mk. 11:17-18). Israel had been given the custodianship of the truth that would set men free—not just the Israelite but all men. The Nation of Israel was elected of God to be a “Kingdom of Priests” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6) to the whole world. However, Jesus said that the appointed place and people for the worship of God had deteriorated into a “den of thieves.” Evangelism was the thing closest to the heart of God. He said He “was not willing that any should perish.”

(18) Turned to the cults and the occult (Isa. 2:6; 2 Kgs. 17:17). This was strictly forbidden and was a manifestation of the depth of Israel’s departure into spiritual darkness.

Does this partial list of Israel’s sins bother you?

It bothers me! I am deeply concerned. These are the sins that provoked God to wrath! One day, in the not-to-distant future, Israel and the whole world will be placed into the “winepress of God’s wrath” (Rev. 14:19-20; 19:15) during the Tribulation. All the references in this study are in some way, either directly or indirectly, connected with the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” God will use this strong disciplinary action to cleanse Israel for their future role in Christ’s Kingdom.

Somewhere near the middle of the “week” /seven years of Tribulation, Israel “…will look upon Him Whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10). God has promised that “before they call, I will answer” (Isa. 65:24; 58:8-9). Praise the Lord! The Apostle Paul says, at that time, “…all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26).

CONCLUSION

 Only a blind man would fail to recognize that this list of Israel’s sins paints an accurate picture of the sins of the world we live in today!

Question: If God has and will judge Israel for their sin, will He dismiss the sins of this Christ-rejecting world? I guarantee you, He will not. If they do not repent, they “shall likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3-5).

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