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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Zephaniah 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil.

Zephaniah was a prophet of God during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. Among other things, his prophesy concerned God's judgements against Judah and Jerusalem for their sin of idolatry. Zephaniah pleads with the Jewish people to repent from such sins that punishments may be averted. Promises of mercy, restoration, favor, and prosperity await them if they turn from their evil ways.

The text indicates that the people were totally complacent. They had become self satisfied, not only with their worldly possessions, but with their manner of life. They had become irreligious, having little, if any, dependence on God. Although they probably acknowledged God as their Creator, they were not concerned about His rewards and punishments.

The text says that God would search Jerusalem thoroughly, even with a lighted candle, looking for those that were settled on their lees. Lees is the sediment or dregs that are removed from wine. Once removed, the wine is pure. The people of Judah, at this time, appeared to be satisfied with the impurities of life - the things that were sacrilegious, as well as other things that were not important. The wine was the important thing in this analogy, and, figuratively, these Jewish people were satisfied with the "dregs of life."

They were wrong in thinking that God would not reward and punish them. Psalm 19:7-11 says that to those that keep His commandments, there is great reward. Proverbs 11:18 indicates that those sowing righteousness will have a sure reward. On the other hand, God told David, in Psalm 91: 8, that he would see with his eyes the reward (punishment) of the wicked. In various verses of Matthew 25 we find that the good and obedient will inherit heaven while the wicked and disobedient must depart from the face of God into everlasting punishment. This was God's plan from the beginning.

Are we settled on our lees? Certainly people today become indifferent about their physical lives here on earth. There is certainly a tendency for people to become complacent in favorable economic times. When times are good, people spend like mad on all sorts of unnecessary things. Automobiles, homes, vacations, clothing, jewelry, and entertainment are a few items that people overindulge in when times are good. In good times, people forget about droughts, famine, plagues, bank failings, stock market crashes, etc.

This complacency that is developed during good economic times carries over into, and can have a serious and terrible affect on, our spiritual lives. Spiritually, we must separate the wine from the dregs in life. Instead of dwelling only on worldly matters, we should be thinking of pleasing God, and the eternal rewards that it will bring. We should also think about eternal punishment for failing to serve God. These are the things that are pure; the things that have the lees removed. The lees represent worldliness; the unimportant things in life that often distract us and cause us to turn away from God and become indifferent to our spiritual needs.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In this analogy, earthly treasures, when misused, are lees - the dregs of life. When all of our earthly blessings are selfishly consumed for our own benefit, they are like lees - it is as if they have become rusted, eaten up, or stolen. As such, they have no eternal benefit. Earthly treasures symbolically can be pure wine - that which is good. When our blessings are used to do good deeds for others, they become treasures in heaven. Time, like our wealth, if spent on ourselves, has no eternal benefit, but when our time is spent doing good deeds for others, treasures are laid up for us in heaven. Friend, are you settled on your lees?