Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

From exile to ecstasy (Zephaniah 3:9-20)

Zephaniah looks ahead to a time when all the nations will speak the same language. This will be a reversal of the judgement imposed at Babel. Back then, people had used the one existing language as a means of opposing God. So they were judged by him and given diverse languages that resulted in confusion. In the future, however, they would use one language to serve him. And his people would come from faraway places to worship him. This prediction is a wonderful description of the spread of the gospel and its climax in the great crowd gathered round the throne praising God.

During that wonderful time of predicted gospel harmony the people of God will be different. They will be marked by humility, holiness and honesty (the three always go together) and will find their safety only in the Lord. Then they will know security and satisfaction as their Shepherd looks after them. Those days were future for Zephaniah and we can almost sense his longing for them as he speaks. But they should be the present for our spiritual lives because we live in the days he predicted.

Because those blessings should be the norm, the prophet exhorts those who will live at that time to praise God for returning to live among them. Their safety is provided in order that there may be songs of praise and lives of service given to God. And their songs and service will be stimulated by thinking about what he is doing, and we may be amazed at what the prophet says. Zephaniah states that God then will be singing to them, a graphic reminder of his delight in them. Through Zephaniah, God reminds them (us) that it is his intention to make them (us) a prominent people, or as the New Testament says, a kingdom who share to some extent the exaltation of Jesus.

Sometimes the message of judgement that so pervades the Minor Prophets can overwhelm the reader. This is our final reading from them and it is good to know that there are also predictions of great prosperity in them, predictions of such great spiritual enjoyment that not only will God's people sing when they happen, so too will God! And that is where we are. So how good is our singing and how perceptive is our listening?

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