Tuesday

2 August 2022

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13

Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the Lord; it has not drawn near to its God. (vs 1-2)

Psalm 22:1-18

Background

The book of Zephaniah is addressed to the people of Jerusalem, who have fallen into disarray. Zephaniah has watched Jerusalem turn towards sinfulness, as the people worshipped idols and prioritised power and wealth. They have neglected the Temple, and aren’t listening to God’s voice. Zephaniah prophesies that God will punish those who have had the chance to hear God’s voice but have continued to ignore it. They have been warned what could happen as other cities fell to ruin when they went astray. But instead of trusting and drawing near to God, the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding cities have continued to reply on unjust and oppressive behaviours. Like a flock of sheep who don’t trust the voice of their shepherd, this has led them into danger.

However, God reaches out to the people not with a destructive righteousness, but with restoration. God says that the people will no longer be scattered, but that they will be brought back together once again, to serve God ‘with one accord’, working together in community for God’s kingdom. God promises that there won’t be shame for their rebellion, but instead God will renew their hearts with humility.

The passage paints a picture of God’s righteousness and justice which meets destruction not with more violence, but with love. God promises that their city will be restored into a place where they can flourish, and live to praise God. Most importantly, God’s restored people will listen to God’s voice once again, and in it they will find refuge. The flock will once again be called by God, their shepherd, and as they turn towards God’s voice they will find pasture, and lie down in safety.

This passage presents us with a God who leads with grace, first and foremost. Like the people of Jerusalem, where have we trusted in unjust structures and oppressive systems, rather than listening to God’s voice? How might we turn towards God’s call today and, trusting in God’s restoration, be led towards flourishing for all?

 

To Ponder:

  • Where have we, as communities, failed to listen to God’s voice today, by enabling injustice to happen – for people and for our planet? What consequences can we see of this neglect?
  • God promises restoration for all people, despite our sinfulness. What would restoration look like for the unjust situations we see in the world today?

Prayer

Generous God, even when we turn away you call us once again. We thank you that when we listen to your voice, we find safety and refuge in you. Help us to trust in your call, that we might bravely turn towards brokenness and violence and seek to bring your restorative love. Amen.


Bible notes author

Hannah Fremont-Brown

Hannah Fremont-Brown is the Campaigns and Church Engagement Officer for the Joint Public Issues Team. Her work involves helping to empower local churches to engage with social justice and effective change-making.

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