The gunk at the bottom of the glassorange

I take very seriously the command on a carton or bottle of juice to shake well before you pour. There's nothing worse than pouring yourself a glass of orange juice and getting lightly coloured orange water because all the good stuff is lying at the bottom of the carton. Then when you come to near the bottom of the carton it is eye-wateringly strong. It's madness!
Strangely God feels quite strongly about this too. There is a verse in Zephaniah were God says:
  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.
The King James version of the Bible is not my translation of choice (no angry e-mails please) but here it is quite helpful. The phrase 'settled on their lees' is translated in most versions as 'complacent', while that is true, we miss out on a wonderful illustration. It basically means letting the gunk settle to the bottom of the vats of wine. 'Lees' are the particles that were in the wine to keep it strong, good wine keepers would routinely pour the wines into new kegs to stop it from settling and stagnating at the bottom. If the lees had settled the wine was ruined.
What God is saying is that the people had become like wine settled on its lees. They had stagnated, they had become complacent. They hadn't been shaken and poured out and filled up again. They just sat there and gone off. 
Why had this happened? Part of the answer is in the second half of the verse: they were saying that God "will not do good, neither will He do ill." They just didn't think He was up to much. They didn't really believe that God was active so they didn't bother trusting in Him. 
They didn't pour out prayers of sincerity because they didn't think He was listening. They didn't sacrifice any of their lives because they didn't think that He was bothered. They built up 'goods', 'houses' and 'vineyards' for themselves (as verse 13 tells us) but they weren't concerned about building God's Kingdom. They just weren't interested. They looked out the windows of their paneled houses and the world seemed to be going on much as it ever had, why get excited about God? They were the Old Testament equivalent of Catherine Tate, "Am I buvvered?".
Of course they were wrong, God was moving and not how they would have hoped. Zephaniah told them that the Day of the Lord was coming. God would shake the gunk from the bottom and would use a foreign army to do it! They would be invaded and taken off into captivity by the Babylonians.
God is there and He is not sleeping. Today He is in control over the universe and every blade of grass grows under His command. Don't dare let your lees settle. Don't ever forget or lose sight of the fact that He is active. Like Zephaniah's day we might not see it displayed in obvious forms but every time the sun sets and rises it is a display of spectacular grace by God because this world doesn't deserve it. He is active in our church and in our lives, pray for eyes of faith to see His hand and a heart of humility that trusts that it is for our good. 
So don't let your lees settle. Don't let your heart stagnate under a lazy attitude of non-expectancy from God. If we let the gunk gather at the bottom of the glass God just might give us a shake. 

Aaron* Williamson, 08/02/2013
MM (Guest) 08/02/2013 15:43
Thank you for this reflection. Reading this has served to remind me why we do what we do - it is reassuring to know God is at work, He is in control and He is working out His purposes through us.
Aaron* Williamson 15/02/2013 10:44
Thanks MM, that's encouraging!
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