"It will come about at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good or evil!’” (Zephaniah 1:12) (NASV)
The theme of the Book of Zephaniah is the Searching Judgments of God. God, through Zephaniah, told His people He would find those who were "Stagnant in Spirit" and had lost their fear of God (become indifferent toward Him).
The expression "Stagnant in Spirit" caught my attention and motivated me to further study. The word stagnant comes from a Hebrew word defined as, "To shrink, i.e., thicken (as unracked wine), curdled, condense, congeal." It was a word used by the Jews, and it related to making wine.
After they crushed the grapes, bits of the stem and pieces of the skin would be in the juice that they poured from the crusher into a container. These bits of stem and skin would settle to the bottom of the container. They were called the lees.
If the grape juice was allowed to ferment with the lees still in it, it became thick and sour and was unfit to drink. Consequently, they poured the juice, except the bottom portion where the lees had settled, from one container to another. This was done several times until the juice was free of the lees. After that juice was fermented, it was fit for consumption.
Zephaniah was telling God's children, that because they were "at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1) and rich in material things, they felt they had a rich relationship with God. This type of thinking had caused what might be referred to as practical atheism (Titus 1:16). Although they verbally acknowledged God, they conducted themselves indifferently toward Him. Their thinking had gradually degenerated to a level wherein they felt there was no reward for obedience or punishment for sin. Consequently, due to lack of spiritual growth, they became morally apathetic and comfortable, having indifferent attitudes toward God.
They had become spiritual fence straddlers. They had a saving knowledge of God. However, they had become so preoccupied with their abundant life style (provided by God), and attached to worldly standards that they were unwilling to let go of them. They felt they had found the perfect balance between spiritual and worldly values. This had caused them to become blind to their real spiritual condition.
Let us learn from their mistakes. We also, can become stagnant in spirit if we fail to make an effort to bring into our minds a constant flow of God’s living word, which can wash out the decay of worldly values and indifference toward our spiritual responsibilities. Let's not allow our country’s prosperity and ease to gradually lead us into a "Stagnant Spirit," which will lull us into an indifferent attitude toward Almighty God.