Saturday 08 December 2012

Bible Book:

"Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!" (v. 14)

Zephaniah 3:14-20 Saturday 8 December 2012


Most people would not want Zephaniah at their party! Throughoutthis short book Zephaniah unleashes a crushing condemnation onIsrael and the surrounding nations. It is not an easy book to readand it seems to shift in its tenses and intended audience. It isalso uncompromising on its judgement upon the whole of humanity forits wickedness and its worshipping of idols.

But just as the reader feels the hopeless despair of the worldaround them they read verse 14 of the final chapter. From now onthe tone changes, now the people of God are asked to rejoice andcelebrate (maybe Zephaniah might be fun at a party after all). Thisis in sharp contrast to the rest of the book - so what might it sayto readers today?

Perhaps this contrast is the call of the faithful. PerhapsChristians (and all of God's people) are called to rejoice in thepromise of a God who does and will save despite the world seemingso desperate. It is hard to celebrate when the world reels with thepain of war, famine, greed and exploitation.

Yet this is the world that God has called humanity into beingand it is into this world that God becomes fully human in theperson of Jesus. It is God in the very centre, a God who loves andmoves and shapes this broken world that gives cause for joyfulexuberance.

There is no doubt that this final passage of Zephaniah is awonderfully generous promise of the party to come; of a time whenall humanity can rejoice in the saving actions of God. What betterway to prepare for Christmas than to celebrate the all-saving,all-loving God in the midst of a world that is desperate to besaved and loved.

To Ponder

  • When you look at the world, do you see it as a bad place wheregood sometimes happens? Or a good place where bad sometimeshappens?
  • What does celebration look like for your community? What isthere to celebrate?
  • Is it possible to celebrate all that God has done whilstrecognising all that is to be done? How?
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