Zephaniah 3:1-8 – What Sorrow Awaits

Read Zephaniah 3:1-8

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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Jeremiah 19:1-15 – Like a Smashed Pot

Read Jeremiah 19:1-15

broken pot with plants inside on ladder

I marvel again at Jeremiah’s obedience to God. Each time God uses him for a new teachable moment Jeremiah continues to listen and follow. Those are two great ways we can stay connected with God. We need to listen and follow!

The visual God used this time was a shattered pot. Part of the message was seeing Jeremiah smash the pot to make a point. God’s intention was to give the people a surprise hoping that would catch their attention. It would have been a bit of a spectacle to have a man ranting and raving and then breaking a jar. Whether people saw him as crazy or not didn’t seem to matter. Jeremiah obeyed God.

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Jeremiah 6:16-30 – Path of Destruction

Read Jeremiah 6:16-30

wildfire engulfing tree

Jeremiah’s message from God in this reading continues to give clues for what is about to happen. It seems there are several dialogues going on. Likewise, there are multiple messages, one of which might be exactly what you need to hear today.

Let’s start with God’s command in verse 16, “Stop right where you are!” If this was God speaking to you, what would he see in your behavior? Are you walking in God’s ways or cutting your own road into new territory? Why do we always try to “recreate the wheel?” Why don’t we trust God more?

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Zephaniah 1:14-2:3 – But Wait!

Read Zephaniah 1:14-2:3

The job of a prophet is very difficult. When the message from the Lord is doom and gloom, a prophet is not a very popular person. It is easy for his/her audience to want to turn away. Who wants to hear they are going to be destroyed?

These words have been fulfilled, at least once. Beyond that, they are words of caution for us. The great fulfillment is yet to be, that which we are all waiting for, the return of Christ.   God’s words, spoken through the prophet, are to be taken seriously. While it is uncomfortable to imagine the day of the Lord’s coming to be “terrible”, it will be for those who are lost and not in Christ.  

Did you notice how the end of today’s reading gives hope? The prophet was also able to assure the people by giving them a way out. The Lord WILL protect those who are following him. Therefore, we have a choice. God declares we must “gather together”and “seek the Lord.” We need to follow and obey. And, we need to do it now. 

The destruction will come, and the terribleness of it should cause everyone to turn from their evil ways. Herein lies the problem. Our society chooses not to listen, just as the people who originally heard these words. Today, people turn away and go about their merry way thinking they are immune, that they will not have to answer to their actions.

So what does humility look like in your life? Have you humbled yourself before God? The Message paraphrase says, to shape up, You’re a nation without a clue about what it wants.” What do we want? Do we want destruction or safety?

We know what to do to “perhaps” be safe from God’s wrath. I found that interesting. I looked in a couple other translations, and they all used the “perhaps” language. The chance of being rescued from destruction is much greater for those of us who obey and follow God, gather and pray together.

Let’s pray. Father God, I thank you for your saving grace. I want my life to be one of obedience and trust. Help me to be a shining light to help others see you and and want to know you. In this fallen world, there is already so much evil, hatred, and destruction. Help us all to know that you are the answer and that you provide the shelter from any storm. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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