Filthy, Polluted, and Oppressed. Why?

Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!  She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.

Zephaniah 3:1-2

This is yet another sad passage directed to the nation of Israel.  It is another sad passage that could very easily be directed to us.  According to these verses, this is the “oppressing city” that is “filthy and polluted.”  That is not a position in which we would like to find ourselves.  Fortunately, the Bible gives us some reasons that this city became “filthy, polluted and oppressing.”

First, “she obeyed not the voice…”  We hear God’s Word all the time.  We have ready access to the Bible all around us.  I don’t even know how many Bibles I own.  I have a Bible program on my computer that allows me to “search the Scriptures” for anything I want to look up or study.  We can listen to sermons at church, and we can listen to sermons on the internet, and we can listen to sermons on cd while we drive or work, and we can listen to sermons on an ipod while we do just about anything else.  If anyone in the history of the world has had access to “the voice,” it is us.  But have we listened?

Second, “she received not correction.”  It’s not easy to be told that you are wrong.  But that is part of life.  When we do what we should not, we are corrected by God.  We are expected to correct the problem.  Do we receive correction when we God gives it to us?

Third, “she trusted not in the LORD.”  The prophets warned the people over and over about trusting in their riches and trusting in the their strength.  It seems to be human nature to want to trust in anything other than the Lord.  What are we trusting in?

Fourth, “she drew not near to her God.”  Even if we have the other three things down, this one can get tricky.  It is easy for us to try to put our Christian lives on “autopilot,” and be content and comfortable with where we are.  But the Lord wants to draw closer to Him.  He wants us to continually seek Him.  Sometimes we can get a little lax in this area.

Those four things destroyed this city, and they can destroy our lives and churches today.  How are we doing in these areas?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you Ben, for the wonderful checklist. I would rather be corrected, than to go on doing wrong! Praying to listen and draw near to Him today. That always increases my trust! God bless you for bringing us this message!


  2. Thanks Ben! I am in an on-line “conversation” right now with someone who says we do not have any responsibility in salvation that the entire work is God’s. God calls God saves God draws us in and all we do is sit back and do whatever hits our fancy. “Don’t worry about obedience” I’m told. “If God wants obeidence He will make you obedient.” Now I believe that we are saved only by the cross and that it is not of works. However I believe we have a responsibility to put ourselves in the pathway of God so that He can save us! Thank you for your confirming word.


    • It seems like there are many people who go too far in one direction or the other- there are those who believe you must work for your salvation and there are those who believe that you literally do nothing and are responsible for nothing. I have friends in both of those “camps,” but I believe that the truth lies in the fact that, while salvation is entirely of God’s grace and apart from works, we do need to submit ourselves to Him. We are commanded over and over again to obey and God would not command us to do something we are not capable of doing.


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