Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and would have spoken God’s words during the reign of King Josiah. You’ll recall when King Josiah learned of the scrolls containing God’s law, great reforms began to help the people of Judah to return to God. Zephaniah would help shake the people of Judah out of their complacency so they could understand their hope comes from God.
Zephaniah doesn’t sugar coat the radical message from God but gets right to the point. God’s wrath will sweep away everything and crush Jerusalem and Judah. Even his own creation will suffer. God’s anger has been fueled by all the idol worship that fills the land.
God loves these people despite the fact they turn on him so blatantly! I feel sorry for Jeremiah being caught up in the flight from Judah to Egypt. I keep hoping that he is one of the ones who’ll get away and be able to return to Judah, escaping the death and suffering his people will encounter because of their choice to continue with the idols.
What were these people thinking? What was it about idol worship that was so attractive? Maybe it was easy and helped them “fit in” with their neighbors. How could they disrespect God on purpose? Can you sense Jeremiah’s own hostility toward his fellow Judeans? This will be Jeremiah’s last address to the rebellious Jews in Egypt.
What a description the LORD gives us of idol worship in Jeremiah’s day! Can’t you just picture how easily random pieces of wood became something people worshipped? So much emphasis was also placed on predictions of the stars that people’s minds were clouded from what mattered.
Our reading not only reveals idolatry for what it is in God’s eyes, but it reminds us who is sovereign and what we can do to help people who are misled by idols. It does us good to strengthen our own devotion to read Jeremiah’s words mixed in with God’s messages.
There is a lot going on in this reading, and we’ll reflect on a couple things I have missed before. What was it that spoke to you today? It’s cool that the Holy Spirit will reveal new insights to God’s word each time when we allow him to speak to our hearts and minds. Sometimes we need to slow down so we can listen for what the Spirit is prompting us to hear.
Did you notice how Paul uses the story of the Israelites in the wilderness to help illustrate the whole food issue he’s been talking about? Keep in mind that the majority of his audience would be Gentiles, so using “our ancestors” is a nice way of bringing them into a story they were not originally part of.
Paul deals here with another burning question on the minds of Corinthians dealing with the problem of food sacrificed to idols. I can’t say that this is something I’ve ever thought of, and I’m pretty sure it’s a new one for you, too. But taken in context, it was a very real problem in Paul’s day. The concept applied here can speak to other issues we may be facing.
While the Corinthian’s question was specific about food, Paul wants them to look deeper. Paul wants them to understand that God isn’t going to smite us if we eat such food. “It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat.We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.” It comes down to “how does our behavior affect others?”