Reverend Anthony R. Locke
July 31st, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Click HERE for the Zephaniah Sermon Series. Sermon # 3
Zephaniah 1:7-11 English Standard Version
7 Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.
8 And on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice— “I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
9 On that day I will punish everyone who leaps over the threshold, and those who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud.
10 “On that day,” declares the Lord, “a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate, a wail from the Second Quarter, a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar! For all the traders are no more; all who weigh out silver are cut off.
Our President claims that this week our country faces an economic Armageddon. National Public Radio wrote on their website, “If you’re running low on apocalyptic visions, you can rent a copy of the Armageddon thriller 2012 — or you can buy some popcorn and tune in to C-SPAN.”
Watching the news is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Political leaders can’t seem to solve our national debt crisis. And all the passengers are yelling at the director and train operators to pull the brakes, but the leadership claims the other party is in charge of the braking system.
Our country needs someone responsible to stop the reckless spending.
Our country borrows 45% of every dollar that we spend. We bring in 180 billion a month, but we spend over 300 billion a month. It’s financial suicide.
August 3rd isn’t the day of reckoning. We are already unable to pay our bills as promised. We spent 14.5 trillion more than we had, and yet as a society we also made promises to pay over 200 trillion for programs we can’t afford.
It’s like being on the edge of bankruptcy, and then signing your name for a new car, a new home and new furniture. It guarantees default if you can barely pay the interest, much less pay down your debt. Yet our nation keeps spending more and more.
In February of this year our government spent 223 billion more than they collected in taxes. As a country we added about 2 trillion to our national debt under the first seven years of our last president, and we are adding 1.8 trillion to our debt this year alone under current leadership.
These numbers are astronomical. Numbers like this used to be reserved for measuring space travel. Now we are in debt beyond our comprehension. The system is corrupt and broken, and God is going to end it.
American debt has been labeled the foundation for the world financial system. We all know that when we max out our personal credit card, that the bank is getting rich from the interest we are paying.
Foreign world banks that purchase our debt are getting rich as American citizens pay the interest on trillions of dollars of debt. Our debt truly is the foundation of the world financial system.
And to add insult to injury, we then send those foreign countries billions of free money in foreign aid. We also pay for American soldiers to protect the borders of other countries (not our own). We provide free disaster relief. We have even bailed out foreign banks with trillions from the Federal Reserve.
This is financial suicide. And the reckless spending is impossible to change because the national budget increases every year, automatically, whether it’s necessary or not.
If our country capped our spending at current levels, it would cut 10 trillion dollars from new debt spending already approved during the next ten years. Every year we increase our spending whether our economy grows or not. (So the new budget deal on August 2nd to cut 2 trillion over the next ten years does not stop 8 trillion of new debt and new spending already built into the future budgets. It’s called baseline budgeting. Look it up here.)
Friends, our country is on an unsustainable path with no one to grab the brakes to keep the train from derailing.
And within this kind of economic turmoil the Anti-Christ will one day rise to the opportunity and provide a solution to the global financial crisis. Revelation 13:16-17
And there will be a false promise of “Peace, peace.” The world will assume the debt crisis has been solved by the Anti-Christ.
But it will not be solved. Only God can remove corruption and injustice from the markets.
The world might find solutions to deal with the coming economic collapse or the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, but the world will never find the perfect solutions without turning to Jesus.
And at the Second Coming the Lord Jesus will judge the markets and change this world.
Jesus will comes back in ultimate power, might and strength to defeat His enemies. Jesus came in humility the first time. Not the second time.
I love a tattoo I saw on the arms of a Marine. He was carrying a shotgun in each arm. Tattooed on each of his forearms was an American eagle. Under the eagle were these words, “Don’t Go Gentle.”
Jesus was gentle and lowly of heart when He came mounted on the foal of a donkey, but never again. Jesus isn’t going to the cross a second time. Jesus isn’t going to be bruised or rejected, cast aside or labeled as not relevant by the powers of this world. No, no, no.
Jesus is coming in the fullness of glory to claim His rights over His creation. He has taken the title deed of ownership, the scroll from the Father’s hand. Jesus is already breaking the seals off the scroll. This world is going to change and never be the same.
Verse 7, Be silent before the Lord God! When my kids are in trouble I tell them this. Speaking just gets them in more trouble.
Don’t speak. Let the blood of Jesus speak for you.
No excuses will be accepted. Only forgiveness through repentance and faith in Jesus will protect on that day of reckoning.
As Moses learned with the tenth plague, nothing but the blood of God’s sacrifice for sin can stop the angel of death from entering your home. No excuses like, “I was born into a dysfunctional family,” or, “my church wasn’t cool enough to capture my interest.”
The Day of the Lord is not a day for excuses. It is that final moment of time when we all give an account to the Lord.
And like a calendar reminder on our phone, Zephaniah is ringing the alarm to remind us that the markets will also be judged. In truth, it is already judged.
Why are the markets judged? There is corruption and injustice in our markets. God judges all sin, so the markets will also be judged, just like in Zephaniah’s day.
What kinds of sins were in Zephaniah’s day?
Amos 2:6 This is what the LORD says: I will not turn back for they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.
When we devalue human lives, when we hurt people for personal profit, we are setting a date with the judgment of God.
The abortion industry is a classic example, but let me try something more nuanced.
The new car industry offers cheap monthly payments for a car that isn’t worth owning by the time you pay it off. People with money buy a reliable car with cash. People without money can only afford a reliable car if they buy a new one.
It’s a financial trap: quickly depreciating assets, sold for starter-home prices ($35,000), with easy to get money, at high interest rates.
The market binds the poor with increasing debt and misery. God hates this.
Over the last ten years the sub-prime mortgage mess did the same thing. Banks were forced, by liberal politicians, to give loans at 100% of the home’s value. Poor families who did not have enough cash flow to save for a down payment were targeted. This lack of cash flow eventually caught up with these families who defaulted on the loans. This pulled the poor into more debt, lower credit scores, and desperate homelessness.
When the Federal Reserve tried to solve this mess, the people were left to dangle in their misery, while the banks and brokers were bailed out with trillions of tax payer dollars. All this from the politicians who claim to look out for the little guy.
Amos 5:11 You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.
God has always been concerned for the needs of the poor. When we do a good deed for the least amongst us, like a cup of cold water or clothes, God appreciates it so much that He feels like we served the personal needs of Jesus His Son.
Our financial system targets the poor and takes what they cannot afford to give. There is a gas tax, phone bill tax, mobile phone tax, electricity tax, forced garbage fee and tax, water sewer charge that costs more than the water itself, which is then followed by a tax. We pay sales tax, income tax, state taxes, municipality taxes and on and on.
The poor are taxed more than they understand because the taxes for them are hidden.
Zephaniah 1:11 Wail, you who live in the market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined.
The lottery strips money from the poor, not the rich. The false promise of getting rich steals the most basic necessities from the poor.
Even orphans are hit with a death tax on the parents estate that can steal up to half of a child’s inheritance.
These are my best attempts to highlight injustice and corruption in our financial market and the financial systems that control our economy. Maybe you know more.
It is my understanding that the Federal Reserve has stolen more money than we can imagine. Trillions and trillions of dollars are spent and given away to other nations in total secrecy. That devalues the dollar.
This might be the biggest form of injustice hurting the poor today. Let me illustrate.
Let’s say we were all playing monopoly and the government was playing with us. Some of us are doing well. We have property, we own a railroad, we have houses and such on our real-estate.
But the government wanted more. So the government opens up another box of monopoly, takes all the money from that box, and adds it to their own pile. Every dollar on the table would have half it’s value. There would be more money, but it would be devalued.
Our government isn’t protecting the poor by printing money and giving it away with social entitlement programs. The printing of money hurts the whole economy. The poor didn’t have their money stolen, but the value was stolen. The national debt, and over spending, is criminal. (Read the Sermon — The Sin of Our Nation Debt.)
We experience this as we try to buy gold or gasoline. The price of gas and gold have doubled in the last three years. Our money is devalued by the corruption in Washington.
In a later sermon we will discuss how these entitlement programs hurt the family, hurt the American work ethic, and steal the dignity and hope of our nation.
And God will not let this injustice continue. Eventually, His anger boils over and things get changed.
For the Jews in our passage that meant the Babylonians were going to be invited by God to come and eat a meal. Look back at verse 7, the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests. The sacrifice was prepared. Israel was the food and the armies of the enemies of God comprised the invitation list.
This still happens today. A company goes into bankruptcy and it is broken up and sold off. The smaller pieces are sold to other companies. Some day America will suffer the same fate.
The people who think they will escape the day of judgment are wrong. God will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire. On that day I will punish everyone who leaps over the threshold, and those who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud.
The elected officials, cultural elite and trend setters will not escape. The aggressive movers and shakers will all fall under the strong hand of God. All who devalue a life for personal gain are storing up wrath for that day.
Friends, I believe that God is inviting the nations of the world to come and dine on the wealth of America because of our sins. We are the prepared meal, the sacrifice, which God is offering to the rest of the world as an example of His wrath.
As our markets fall we will hear the alarms of Zephaniah ringing in our ears. The Day of the Lord’s reckoning is soon at hand.
How can we prepare? We must be silent before the Lord. We must put our trust in Jesus and not our earthly possessions. We must not try to build bigger barns and protect our stuff.
Our faith must be firmly placed in Jesus. Let us hope in Christ alone. And let us pray for a revival in America to bring us back to loving Christ and others more than the love of money. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.