Zephaniah 3:1-8 – What Sorrow Awaits

word bubble that looks like cloud with raindrops with the words of sadness and despair

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.

Before jumping ship, people should take inventory of what they’ve seen the Holy Spirit do. There are miracles all around us, happening every instant. We just need eyes to see. Anything we find in nature is truly a miracle, as are our own lives. Think of the cells and organisms scrambling around our bodies. The creativity of God leaves miracles everywhere.

If you’re ever feeling weak in your faith or full of doubts, you’re not alone. Even the disciples floundered around, remember? Jesus knew this would happen, and that’s why he sent the Holy Spirit to live among us. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Zephaniah isn’t done painting the picture of all that his prophecy from God has to say.

But the sorrow that awaits people who do turn away, who don’t know God – that’s going to be great. This prophecy and so many others say so. Whether it happened in the ancient world or has yet to happen, God’s prophecies are always fulfilled.

Was there something frightening in today’s part of the final oracle? The verse that stood out to me was, “But the wicked know no shame.” I couldn’t help but picture some people we all know who almost pride themselves in their wicked behavior. They won’t call it out as “wicked,” however. My definition of wicked may differ from theirs. To me, wicked is any sinful behavior that intentionally goes against the teaching of God’s word.

Do people still sin? Of course! We see a lot of wicked activity that intentionally disrespects God. That’s the state of affairs at the point when Jerusalem was destroyed. Zephaniah speaks of that time. It shouldn’t be hard for people to turn back again.

God even tells us what he was thinking about his willful children knowing they would recall his mighty acts. “‘Surely they will have reverence for me now! Surely they will listen to my warnings.” What a disappointment! It’s like waiting for party guests to arrive and being stood up.

Does your relationship with God leave you with awestruck wonder at his mighty deeds? How else can we approach the throne of God than with reverence and gratitude for what he has done for us? The people who don’t “get this” are missing out on so much.

Spend time today strengthening your relationship with God, giving him praise for his many attributes and blessings. If you feel so moved, ask him to help you share his grace with someone who doesn’t know him yet.

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Lord, I am so thankful for how your word illuminates my path. Through the prophets, I feel called to reveal and recognize my sinful tendencies and turn to you in faith. I want to draw closer to you each day. I am so in awe of all that you have accomplished in the world and in me. I look forward to how you are going to continue to use me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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