What does it say?
Zephaniah came onto the scene probably during the early years of king Josiah of Judah before he begins his aggressive reforms. He would also be contemporary with the prophet Jeremiah during the early years of that prophet’s ministry. From his introductory genealogy Zephaniah appears to be of the royal bloodline himself.
Zephaniah’s first chapter warns against the coming Day of the Lord. Many people in Zephaniah’s time tend to look forward to that day as the moment when Israel’s enemies would meet their just reward. Years earlier Amos thundered that the Day of the Lord would be disastrous not just for Israel’s idolatrous neighbors, but for many in Israel whose hearts were far from God despite the outward trappings of religion.
The second chapter consists of prophecies against the nations surrounding Israel. The unnamed city that is the focus of chapter three is clearly Jerusalem. The Day of the Lord will inevitably bring God’s wrath upon God’s people and God’s city. However, God promises that a remnant will return and that God will ultimately accomplish his purpose. Peace and hope come into full view and we see the nations of the world coming to Jehovah God just as his purpose has been from the beginning.
What does it mean?
Even as follower of Jesus Christ we are often tempted to look forward to the “Day of the Lord” as though it were something beautiful. Not so fast! Nothing could be more sobering, especially if we are aware God’s mission and our place in it. We do not live in isolation and are irreversibly connected to the other peoples of the world. Our mission is to be a blessing to the nations. When we fail to engage in the mission, we begin living for self, disconnect from God’s fellowship and suffer the consequences just like everyone else.
How will I respond?
Am I truly aware of the mission and that I am blessed to be a blessing? Am I sensitive to the people around me that come from totally different backgrounds? Do I listen to the urging of God’s Spirit in me to express his love to my neighbors? What one specific thing can I do or say today to become more aware of the different groups of people within my sphere of influence?