Zephaniah 3:14-20 – Promised Restoration

Read Zephaniah 3:14-20

God, our divine warrior, has promised restoration. “At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster.” Like our last reading, the descriptions of what life looks like and the pictures painted by Zephaniah are beautiful and enticing!

Can you imagine what the people thought when they heard that God himself would be living among them? In the days of Moses, the people feared the presence of God.  But this oracle would be fulfilled when Jesus was born, and again when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would dwell within us. We have knowledge Zephaniah’s first audience did not. We should feel richly blessed to see Jesus in this promised restoration.

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Zephaniah 3:9-13 – Is This What Heaven Will Be Like?

Read Zephaniah 3:9-13

This section of Zephaniah’s prophecy starts with the word, “Then.” Because this word, then, points to an event or moment in time, what Zephaniah describes becomes an observation of what we’ll see around us. I had to admit it sounded like a very pleasant place, a glimpse of what heaven might be like.

Can you imagine a time when all people speak only positively “so that everyone can worship the Lord together.” No more harsh, hurtful words that separate people, but loving words that bind people together in harmony, praising the Father and creator of all. I can just picture an angel choir making beautiful music.

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Zephaniah 3:1-8 – What Sorrow Awaits

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The reforms of Josiah will not keep the people right with God for long. Zephaniah speaks of how Jerusalem’s rebellion continues. After all the attempts to reacquaint people with God’s laws and expectations, how does the city respond? “No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God.” How do you think God feels when we pull away?

We have all known people who have left the church community for one reason or another. Perhaps they had a life event happen, and rather than embrace God’s provision, turned away blaming God for the misfortune. Maybe there was some personality clash with church leadership leaving them feeling disillusioned about their faith. People will find reasons to trust their own power rather than the Holy Spirit power we’ve been given.

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Zephaniah 2:4-15 – I Will Survive

Read Zephaniah 2:4-15

The universal judgment is spelled out in a little more detail here. It is thought that the nations mentioned represent the whole world, each being in a different geographical direction (Egypt/Ethiopian to the south; Assyria to the north; Philistia to the west; and Moab/Ammon to the east.) What did the other nations do? They disrespected their creator. You can’t taunt or insult God or his people without consequence. God will have the final word.

Pride is another divisive quality that God will punish. “They will receive the wages of their pride, for they have scoffed at the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Here we see that those people who look down on us for our faith and ridicule our belief system will see consequences. We don’t have to fight that battle; God has our back!

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Zephaniah 2:1-3 – Act Now!

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What does repentance look like? Zephaniah shows us in today’s reading. This is not only meant for the remnant of faithful ones who are wanting to stay true to God in the days before the exile, but to us as well. The prescription for living is not hard, unless you have a hard time humbling yourself and being obedient to God’s will.

Many will choose the independence this world offers. The evil one wants us to believe there is freedom in those choices. Rather, it’s a death sentence with no hope for eternity. Is it hard for you to humbly obey God?

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