A Beacon of Hope - 22 January 2020
Turn to the LORD, all you humble people of the land, who obey his commands. Do what is right, and humble yourselves before the LORD. Perhaps you will escape punishment on the day when the LORD shows his anger.
This is the message that the LORD gave to Zephaniah during the time that Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. (Zephaniah was descended from King Hezekiah through Amariah, Gedaliah, and Cushi.) The LORD said, “I am going to destroy everything on earth,
“Just wait,” the LORD says. “Wait for the day when I rise to accuse the nations. I have made up my mind to gather nations and kingdoms, in order to let them feel the force of my anger. The whole earth will be destroyed by the fire of my fury.
It has not listened to the LORD or accepted his discipline. It has not put its trust in the LORD or asked for his help.
“I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. I am telling you the truth: the time is coming — the time has already come — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will come to life. Just as the Father is himself the source of life, in the same way he has made his Son to be the source of life. And he has given the Son the right to judge, because he is the Son of Man.
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV)
The Book of Zephaniah has just three chapters. Its central message is that on the Day of Judgement the fire of God’s wrath will burn up a creation gone wrong. (Zephaniah 1:1-2; 3:8)
Zephaniah condemns Israel’s injustice and religious unfaithfulness. He lists four sins of his people: idolatry (1:4-5), indifference and unbelief towards God (1:6), adoption of foreign customs (1:8) and unethical actions of violence and fraud (1:9).
Zephaniah is uncompromising in warning that on the Day of Judgment those who no longer believe that God matters in their world, together with foreign nations who share their beliefs, will be destroyed.
He warns them that it will be a ‘Day’ to be feared, a universal catastrophe in which the whole earth will be consumed (1:18).
Then Zephaniah offers a beacon of hope. “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” (2:3)
He calls on his people to seek the mercy of God by holding an assembly of fasting and repentance to show their humility, obedience and trust in the Lord. Zephaniah’s pleas are rejected (3:2).
The Day of Judgement is inevitable and inescapable.
How wonderful and reassuring then are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who follow him: “‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:24-27)
What a wonderful Saviour we have, our shining beacon of hope.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that we may rise to life immortal through him, who reigns with you in unity with the Holy Spirit. One God now and forever. Amen