Devotional Reading: Psalm 47
Background Scripture: Zephaniah 3
Key Verse: Zephaniah 3:19
How fitting is such a lesson considering the pandemic we are currently experiencing. Zephaniah, whose name means, “The Lord has concealed; the Lord has protected; treasured by God,” was a prophet in the southern kingdom of Judah during the reign of King Josiah. He identifies himself as being the great-great-grandson of Hezekiah.
He understands the importance of leadership and the consequences its absence can do to a nation. He is concerned with Judah’s consistent rebellion against God. His assignment was to warn the people of upcoming judgment for their sin which would come in the form of natural consequences for their choices and to be used as a tool of God to purify His people.
Despite God’s pending judgment, His people shall not fear because the process of purification will remove the rebellious to ensure survival of those who remain faithful, “The remnant of Israel,” - let’s begin our journey.
I. Celebration (Zephaniah 3:14, 15)
Within these verses the people are first instructed on how to give praise. They are told to “celebrate” with song, be glad, rejoice with all their heart. Zion (city of David), included the temple – parallels (stands for) Jerusalem (being the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah). The significance here is that Jerusalem is the location of the temple which emphasizes the value of God’s covenant people as well as His claim as one who stands as the people’s champion.
The people are further instructed in whom to praise. Although Judah will suffer consequences of their choices, God will not allow those consequences to destroy completely. The faithful remnant (people) will suffer along with the unfaithful majority. He will remove those who instigate evil against the remnant. When the time comes for God to cast out the enemy, He will bring fullness of His presence to rescue His remnant. The promise of restoration, comes with peace and protection, offer of hope. He will be King in the midst of His people.
I. Promise (Zephaniah 3:16-20)
The final verses of Zephaniah’s prophesy goes a few steps further to explain that in that day, just as the pending judgment will take place, so is the promise of restoration being certain. Therefore, have no fear and let not your hands be slack/idle because fear indicates lack of faith; God is mighty and present with His people.
Restored relationship with God removes and heals signs of abandonment resulting in physical healing, freedom, and returning home are concrete ways in which God’s justice and love will be announced. The alienation caused by sin in general and idolatry is reversed when God is once again present with His people.
Food for thought: God alone is the one who has the power to make restored relationships with Him possible. Although, we have been delivered from the captivity of sin, yet we still live in a world that is mired in that captivity. The fullness of our deliverance is yet to come.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Sis. Mary Turner