Wednesday 02 December 2015

Bible Book:

“For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord.” (v. 12)

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 Wednesday 2 December 2015

Psalm: Psalm 136:23-26


Little is known of Zephaniah. He prophesied in Josiah's reign(640-609BC), the last great reforming king of Judah, who tried toreform the injustices of his predecessor Manasseh. Judah was thenation state of the people of Israel. The name 'Zephaniah' hints ata meaning of the hiddenness of God.

The political world was unstable for Judah. It was a vassal ofAssyria, but the Babylonian Empire was rising. In this politicalturmoil, Zephaniah believed the fate of all nations (Judah andnations who had power over them) was in God's hands. In the Day ofthe Lord, a day of judgement would come, a day of reckoning.

Verses 1 and 2 pronounce judgement on the wickedness ofJerusalem, the religious capital of Judah. They describe areligious city, where the people who are losing their faithidentity. They are a proud people who listen to no-one, accept nocorrection and do not trust or draw near to God. To draw near toGod is to worship God. Further verses describe how their officialsabuse their power and oppress. The king of Judah (Josiah) is notmentioned by Zephaniah, maybe because he is a faithful reformer forGod.

Verses 9-13 describe an idyllic future centred on God's holymountain and a faithful, humble remnant of people. These will bepeople who seek refuge in God and through whom God's kingdom willcome. Because of these people God will be merciful to Judah. Jesusin his ministry focused on, healed and commended humble lowlypeople whose faith in him saved them.

Verses 9 and 10 speak of God transforming the language of thepeople, so that all those who were scattered in exile, will bebrought together to serve God with one accord. A purified languagewill bring people together in harmony, rather than scattering themthrough misunderstanding (cf the Tower of Babel - Genesis 11:1-9).

The harmonising power of language is a theme taken up in Psalm19. Creation speaks of God's glory (verses1-4);. '... the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlighteningthe eyes" (Psalm 19:8). The psalm ends with the meditation'Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart beacceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer' (Psalm19:14) - a desire not to give expression and oxygen to unworthythoughts.

To Ponder

  • In what ways is it useful to focus on the idea of God'sjudgement for people in positions of leadership and exercisingpower? Try thinking it through with a concrete example from a storyin the news this week.
  • Can you think of an example where God has worked through aperson or people with humility? What happened?
  • Words can powerfully divide or unite. Think of a community youbelong to, where you have noticed this to be true and identify howthe power of words was working.
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