Today was the first time reading Zephaniah through the filter of revelation and understanding Jerusalem as the church. Here are some of my on the go thoughts and highlights for me from chapter 3.
Regarding the Church
The first part was a little sobering. Replace Jerusalem with <the church of ____> and whoa! I hope and pray it is an opportunity for us to take heed.
V1 – Woe to <the church of _____>, who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing church!
V2 – She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God.
V3-5 Description of the unjust vs who God. He is righteous, just, does not fail. The unjust no know shame.
Regarding the end times….maybe?
So I’m not entirely certain of the exact timeline. I think part of what happened here was reflected in the exile of Judah but based on the descriptions, it doesn’t seem to align completely. The description in V9 to the end of the chapter don’t match the actual sentiments of the nation of Israel at the time of Jesus. So there is a very high likelihood it is a reference to things to come (to be verified 😀). Notable things that happen…
V6 – Nations are not going to be doing so well…
V7 – I said, Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you. But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. >>>
>>> Things I can learn from this. God starts a process to grab the nations attentions. This is not final judgement. God specifically builds in the possibility of forgiveness. “Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then…” Surely and then imply that the action of judgement hasn’t been completed. Makes me think of Jonah and Nineveh. The repentance of Nineveh came when it was headed down a path of judgement. I think that the circumstance that Zephaniah is presenting is far more advanced in the process. There have been multiple attempts of warnings. So God sets into motion things that will really grab their attention (V6). They don’t take heed. V7 ends with “but all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt.”
V8 – God declares that he will seize the prey. The prey here are the nations that have’t repented. To bring judgement, it is God’s decision to gather the nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them his indignation. >>>
>>> I find it so interesting because I’ve seen/known Christians that are fearful about the one nation government movement. Many fear microchipping or any kind of system that digitizes their identity into one system. Well, I have to admit, it does create vulnerabilities in our ability to move about freely as Christians but certainly it isn’t something we need to fear. The gathering of nations is good news for believers. That means we will be one step closer to the redemption of the nations and the renewal of this universe. However, to get there we must pass through challenging times. Yes, let’s recognize that it will be physically and emotionally difficult and it will test our spirit, but I think the real challenge is proclaiming the gospel and watching people reject it.
There is hope. V14 and on talk about restoration. There is forgiveness of guilt, restoration to honor, and not having to fear evil. The church has hope, not because our ability but because of God’s grace.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for giving us so many opportunities to turn to you. Please help us to listen. Please help us to be humble. Please help us to seek you. Forgive us as church… we getting side tracked often. Please help us to live like Kingdom citizens. Please help us to live as ambassadors. Help us to love our neighbors as you love us.