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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2 Peter 2:4-10 – Who God Spares

Read 2 Peter 2:4-10

This text clearly warns about the judgment in store for those false teachers Peter spoke of in our last reading.  If God doesn’t spare the angels, you can bet he’s not going to spare the false teachers. Those folks who try so hard to lead us astray and confuse us with worldly values are being likened to the corrupt people of Noah’s day and the immoral people that surrounded Lot. God will judge sin, and the unrepentant sinner cannot escape.

God loves us all, but he spares only the righteous. Peter gives us examples that illustrate how God has dealt with the ungodly in the past. Amidst the destruction, God has always spared those who stay true to him, like Noah and Lot. God knows the heart of his people. These men were not sinless, but they put their trust in God.

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1 Peter 4:12-19 – Doom and Bloom

Read 1 Peter 4:12-19

I assume Peter is talking about Jesus’ glorious return and our everlasting life with him when he describes, “seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” But I got a little glimpse of that “glory” this week. Anytime we see God move in our midst or help us in our struggles, we get a peek into the glory of God.

We know the joy that bubbles up inside us when we see God’s hand at work in our lives or community. Peter encourages us to persevere despite the unpleasant situations we face in life. It really resonated with me in a fresh way when I read Peter’s words, “for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering.” Take a moment to let that truth sink in. Partners with Christ. Partners.

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Obadiah 1-9 – Edom’s Judgment

Read Obadiah 1-9

Welcome to Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament. Its message is about oppression and betrayal, from both vantage points. We’ll also see examples of being the “innocent bystander” in perilous times. It’s thought that Obadiah would have written this prophecy sometime after the Babylonian conquest, but it is not clearly stated.

Obadiah’s message reveals God’s dramatic response to anyone who would harm his precious children. Edom was one of those nations, located southwest of the Dead Sea. The Edomite people were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Remember the story about the birth right in Genesis 27? We see time and again in the Old Testament references to the hostilities and struggles Edom had with God’s people, Israel.  

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Joel 3:1-12 – Judgment for Our Enemies

Read Joel 3:1-12

In our previous reading, Joel speaks of a time when those who call upon the LORD will be saved. This prophecy seeks to alert all the enemies who ever harmed God’s people that their judgment is at hand. They were not going to get away with their abuse of God’s loved ones. The time was coming for “pay backs.” God said to the enemies of his people, “I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done.”

We see here the example of God gathering all nations together in one place. The word Jehoshaphat means “the LORD judges,” so this was probably a symbolic reference, not necessarily a physical location. Can we assume that God still judges those who abuse us?

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