International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 5, 2016
Purpose: To discover what it means to live within God’s plan for creation
Bible Lesson: Zephaniah 1:4-6, 14-16
Background: Genesis 1:1–2:3; Zephaniah 1:2–2:4; Zephaniah 2:3
Key Verse: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land who practice his justice; seek righteousness; seek humility. Maybe you will be hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)
Zephaniah 1:4-6, 14-16 (CEB)
(4) I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will eliminate what’s left of Baal from this place and the names of the priests of foreign gods, (5) those bowing down to the forces of heaven on the rooftops, those swearing by the Lord along with those swearing by Milcom, (6) those turning away from the Lord, those who don’t seek the Lord and don’t pursue him.
Zephaniah 1: 14-16 (CEB)
(14) The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and coming very quickly. The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter. A warrior screams there. (15) That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and anxiety, a day of desolation and devastation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and deep darkness, (16) a day for blowing the trumpet and alarm against their invincible cities and against their high towers.
Zephaniah 2:3 (CEB)
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land who practice his justice; seek righteousness; seek humility. Maybe you will be hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.
Some Thoughts By Burgess Walter
A good way to approach any theological Bible study is to ask three basic but connected questions. (1) What does this passage say about God? (2) What does this passage say about human beings? (3) What does this passage say about the relationship between God and human beings?
To set our lesson in historical terms Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and prophesied in the early years of King Josiah. Because a revival promoted by King Josiah started in his 12th year, we can assume that today’s text was written during the first twelve years of Josiah’s reign. It is also believed that Zephaniah was a relative of King Josiah and his words were responsible for the reforms that King Josiah ordered. Josiah ruled Judah for 31 years from about 639 B. C. to 608 B. C. During the latter days, Josiah repaired the Temple, the Law was read, the Passover kept, and the covenant was renewed. And the land was cleansed of idolatrous priest, groves and sodomites Zephaniah prophesied against.
So, what does this passage say about God? It tells us about God’s awesome power, not only to create but also to destroy. Notice that the destruction comes in the same order as creation. 1:2 I will destroy the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. I will make the into a heap of ruins; I will eliminate humanity from the earth, says the Lord.
God holds humanity responsible for not taking dominion over everything He had created and all that He called “supremely good.”
What does this passage say about human beings? They had failed to be good stewards of God’s creation. They also had sought other gods, and some had chosen to ignore God. (6 those turning away from the Lord, those who don’t seek the Lord and don’t pursue him) The very people God brought out of slavery in Egypt chose to worship other gods, or worse, chose to ignore the one that had redeemed them.
What does this passage say about the relationship between God and human beings? It appears to be a one sided relationship, God provided and we perverted. God’s instruction through Moses and others was clear, we should have no other god’s, but humankind wanted what the ungodly had. Humankind saw the practices of an evil world and chose that rather than a life of humbleness and holiness. God offers a chance for redemption, but humankind chooses to ignore.
Like those in Zephaniah's day we consider God to be powerless, and of no consequence to our lives. We think God is like all of our other gods that we worship, dependent on our resources. We are in control of our own destiny and our own happiness. Unless we repent and again seek God we are doomed just Zephaniah prophesied.
My hymn for this week is “I Surrender All.”