All the prophets spoke about a remnant among God's people. They spoke about how, in a time of spiritual decline among God's people, there would be a few who would remain faithful to God.
The things written in the Old Testament have been written for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). There is a decline among Christians today just like there was a decline in Israel in the past. The two kingdoms - Israel and Judah - are a picture of the two groups in Christendom. Israel, with 10 tribes, symbolises the larger group of mainline denominations. And Judah with 2 tribes, symbolises the smaller non-conformist assemblies. But both these groups are in decline today. In the Old Testament, Judah did not learn from Israel's mistakes. And the non-conformist groups today have not learnt from the mistakes the mainline denominations have made - and they have made the same mistakes themselves. But ultimately, from both groups, God has chosen a remnant today. There is spiritual decline today - both among the ritualistic groups and among the independent groups. But in the midst of all this, God has a few who have a heart for Him. They are not all found in one denomination. They are found in all the denominations - men and women who love God and are seeking to honour Him in all things. They are genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit and do not get involved in controversies. They are very careful in the use of their tongues and are very faithful with money. God is gathering such people together in these days as His remnant. The theme of the prophets was always restoration. The remnant prepared the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus. When the Lord was born, there was a small remnant - Simeon and Anna in the temple, John the Baptist, the shepherds, and a few wise men from the east. Today also there is a remnant in Christendom who are preparing the way for the coming of the Lord.
Zephaniah says, "Beg the Lord to save you. All of you who are humble, seek for more humility" (Zeph. 2:3). What a word - "Seek for more humility". Zephaniah understood that God blesses the humble. On one side was the pride of Babylon and on the other the humility of the remnant in Jerusalem. From the time of Cain and Abel, there have been two streams in humanity - Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is a corrupt, religious system. Jerusalem is the true church of God. This church is characterised not by miracles, signs and wonders, but by humility. They are never tired of seeking for more and more humility.
What then is the danger that faces those who belong to the remnant? It is the danger of comparing themselves with other churches and glorying in being superior. That is exactly how the devil wants you to think, because he knows that the moment you start thinking like that, God will become your enemy, and then you will also become like those whom you despise. You see how quickly the remnant can themselves become a part of Babylon. So pursue humility. Keep your face in the dust always. Never compare yourselves with the other people. Compare yourself only with Jesus. That is my advice to all who belong to the remnant of God's people today.
Zephaniah prophesied that the Philistine cities would be rooted out and made desolate, but a few survivors (again, a remnant) would be cared for ( Zeph. 2:4, 7). This remnant would be taunted and made fun of by others (Zeph. 2:8). If you stand up for the Lord, like Daniel and his three friends, and like the remnant spoken of by the prophets, you can be sure that many compromising Christians will taunt you. They will tell you, "What a fantastic ministry you could have had, if you had not joined this little group of fanatics." Many Christians told me that when I gave up my wider ministry and started meeting with just a few people as a church in our home (in 1975). I am thankful that I didn't listen to any of them. I said to the Lord, "Lord, I don't care whether I am with only two or three. I want to be where You are and I want to proclaim the whole truth of Your Word. I don't care for the opinions of backslidden Christianity and their leaders." If you take a stand like that, you will face a lot of opposition. But you will finish your course with joy, if you endure until the end. Keep your eyes on the Lord. The Lord says, "Don't worry about your critics. I'll deal with them in My own time." Today, my critics are silent. They marvel at what God has done in our midst. If however you can't stand being taunted, you will give up the battle and join the compromisers.
Notice some characteristics of this remnant.