We’re also going to take a brief pause from our summer books (1 & 2 Chronicles) to read from some of the minor prophets that are either directly mentioned in 1 & 2 Chronicles or that lived and prophesied within the time frames of those books.
These short prophetical books help us understand what God’s people would have been hearing (and feeling) as they lived through some tumultuous times and help add color to the historical books we’re reading over the next couple of months!
Read Zephaniah 3
3 Woe to the city of oppressors,
rebellious and defiled!
2 She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
she does not draw near to her God.
3 Her officials within her
are roaring lions;
her rulers are evening wolves,
who leave nothing for the morning.
4 Her prophets are unprincipled;
they are treacherous people.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
and do violence to the law.
5 The Lord within her is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
and every new day he does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame.
Jerusalem Remains Unrepentant
6 “I have destroyed nations;
their strongholds are demolished.
I have left their streets deserted,
with no one passing through.
Their cities are laid waste;
they are deserted and empty.
7 Of Jerusalem I thought,
‘Surely you will fear me
and accept correction!’
Then her place of refuge would not be destroyed,
nor all my punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
to act corruptly in all they did.
8 Therefore wait for me,”
declares the Lord,
“for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out my wrath on them—
all my fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
by the fire of my jealous anger.
Restoration of Israel’s Remnant
9 “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him shoulder to shoulder.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
my worshipers, my scattered people,
will bring me offerings.
11 On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame
for all the wrongs you have done to me,
because I will remove from you
your arrogant boasters.
Never again will you be haughty
on my holy hill.
12 But I will leave within you
the meek and humble.
The remnant of Israel
will trust in the name of the Lord.
13 They will do no wrong;
they will tell no lies.
A deceitful tongue
will not be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
and no one will make them afraid.”
14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
18 “I will remove from you
all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.
This final chapter of Zephaniah begins with a sobering message to the people of Judah but concludes with the hope of restoration. Judah, like the nations surrounding her, had fallen to idolatry, corruption, and wickedness. Zephaniah presents stark contrasts of the righteous, just, perfect God to the reckless, treacherous, profane leaders of Judah. Not only is God’s warning of judgment that He will purge His people presented, but also a message of hope and restoration is promised.
Reading the prophets of the Old Testament gives us a vivid picture of how seriously God views sin. As judgments are predicted, there are also reminders of God’s plan to restore and redeem. After God’s judgment, God will transform the lives of His people (those who are repentant and humble before Him.) There is a picture of unity, humility, authentic worship, and life without fear promised to those who seek the Lord. “On that day, the Lord your God will be in your midst, a mighty one who will save.” What a message of hope God offers through Zephaniah’s faithful prophecy.
Zephaniah’s picture of God’s delight in His people is worthy of our focus today. Consider the words used to express God’s care: restore, take away judgments, clear enemies, save, rejoice, quiet with love, exult, gather, change shame to praise, restore. Imagine the hope this offered to the people of Judah!
This description also applies today. Our God rejoices over His own in Christ with loud singing. Notice this is not an insignificant response, this describes a divine celebration! Ultimate restoration and eternal hope have been sealed by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. On that promised future day, when we’re face to face with Jesus, we will rejoice and sing in worship and praise joining in His song of delight.
- How have you been challenged to view the prophecies of God’s judgment as acts of merciful warnings?
- Where do you most long for God to save and restore?
- What is your response to God’s immense delight in you expressed with loud singing?
“God is so happy in the love He bears to His people that He breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.”– Charles Spurgeon
Leave a Comment below
Join the Team
Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.