Zepaniah 3:1 Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city!
Zep 3:2 It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the LORD; it has not drawn near to its God.3 The officials within it are roaring lions; its judges are evening wolves that leave nothing until the morning. 4 Its prophets are reckless, faithless persons; its priests have profaned what is sacred, they have done violence to the law.
Zep 3:8 Therefore wait for me, says the LORD, for the day when I arise as a witness.
Zep 3:11 On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.12 For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD--13 the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.
Zep 3:16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18 as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19 I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20 At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.
Zephaniah, a descendant of King Hezekiah, lived in Jerusalem at the time of King Josiah. While Josiah is recorded as a God-fearing ruler, his father Amon, and grandfather Manasseh were amongst the worst kings in Judah’s history. This left Jerusalem a “soiled, defiled, oppressing city”, with officials, judges and priests who have “done violence to the law”. The prophet Zephaniah notes that the nation will be scattered, but the remnant left behind in Jerusalem will discover the blessing of God “and no one shall make them afraid”. He then concludes with the promise to “save the lame and gather the outcast, and ... change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth”.
We who follow Jesus are confronted by this passion of God for the poor, the outcast and the ‘left behind’. It is easy to ignore such people in favour of the powerful and the rich. We have a choice: either to be with God, or to be with the “roaring lions” and the “evening wolves”.
Ordinary 30 / Pentecost +23
52 True Humility
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 317.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.