“Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops;
Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, But who also swear by Milcom”
Zephaniah was commissioned by the Lord to warn the people of coming judgment. In order to prepare the people for what was ahead, he explained the reason they were facing judgment. His message was both clear and simple, they must change their ways if they were to avoid what was ahead.
The first infraction the people were guilty of was worshipping the hosts of heavens on their rooftops. In ancient times rooftops were considered a part of the house and were used for family gatherings. It was on a rooftop where Bathsheba bathed, Peter rested and had a vision from heaven, where husbands are exhorted to flee from a contentious wife, and where the people of Judah were practicing idolatry.
Zepheniah’s ministry took place during the reign of King Josiah, who had brought about great reforms in the nations. Much of the idolatry that had plagued Judah for generations had been removed from the public sector. The problem was, while these idols had been removed publicly, they still remained in the private life of the people. God’s judgment would come because public reform was not affecting private living.
We are told the people continued to worship Baal, the sun, moon and stars, and Milcom, the false god of the Ammonites. Essentially, they were turning worship into syncretism by blending the worship of the true God with idols. Tragically, this is a common practice today. Many who claim to be followers of Christ, seem to pick and choose verses they like while ignoring others. By doing so, they are essentially creating a god of their liking, rather than submitting to the God of Scripture. This synchronistic idolatry ultimately caused Judah to turn back from following the Lord. When public commitment does not change private living we will ultimately turn our backs on the Lord as well. It is in private where the real roots of the Christian life are developed.
What you do with your early mornings will chart the course for your entire day. Jesus rose a long while before daylight, departed from others, and spent time alone with the Father. His life was a pattern set for the rest of us to follow. It is important to begin each day with the Lord, in His Word, allowing Him to remove from your private life anything that does not belong.