International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 19, 2016
Purpose: To celebrate God’s gift of reconciliation
Bible Lesson: Zephaniah 3:9-14, 20
Background Scripture: Genesis 1:1–2:3; Zephaniah 3:9-20
Key Verse: Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! / Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. (Zephaniah 3:14)
Zephaniah 3:9-14, 20 (CEB)
(9) Then I will change the speech of the peoples into pure speech, that all of them will call on the name of the Lord and will serve him as one. (10) From beyond the rivers of Cush, my daughter, my dispersed ones, will bring me offerings. (11) On that day, you won’t be ashamed of all your deeds with which you sinned against me; then I will remove from your midst those boasting with pride. No longer will you be haughty on my holy mountain, (12) but I will cause a humble and powerless people to remain in your midst; they will seek refuge in the name of the Lord. (13) The few remaining from Israel won’t commit injustice; they won’t tell lies; a deceitful tongue won’t be found on their lips. They will graze and lie down; no one will make them afraid. (14) Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem.
Zephaniah 3: 20 (CEB)
(20) At that time, I will bring all of you back, at the time when I gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the Lord.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s lesson, in contrast to the previous two weeks, offers hope. Putting this into the historical context, Zephaniah started this prophecy during the reign of Josiah. Josiah started reforms during his reign, but his sons and grandsons did not follow Josiah’s reforms and forty years later the nation of Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar.
So Zephaniah’s prophecy of doom does come true. Today’s text is the only good news in this short book. The people of Jerusalem had become complacent about God, they thought God would do no harm, nor would he continue to be important to Judah. When we become complacent about God, we are saying we can take care of ourselves, we don’t need God any longer.
God always offers hope for the faithful. Those that were complacent were removed, and the remnant that remained were offered hope and peace. From an historical perspective, after the return from captivity, that faithful remnant never worshipped idols again in the remainder of Old Testament history
I think it is interesting to look at the contrasting characteristics of God, we see in the history of God’s chosen people. They saw him as a loving redeemer from slavery in Egypt, to a daily provider of their needs, a mighty warrior that led them in victory. God was also the prosecutor and judge for those that needed it. He also provided hope and promise of a better life to come in Canaan. That is why it is so hard to define God by his character. I think God can best be defined as simply, Father, or as Jesus called him Abba Father, which we translate as papa or daddy.
Everything that God did, whether love or judgement, corresponds to the way earthly fathers (should) react in our society. God continues to reward the humble and meek, those that have no hope, except in His mercy and grace.
I find it hard to choose a hymn for this week, the obvious choice would be “This is My Father’s World.” But I just used that a few weeks ago, so I will choose, “How Great Thou Art.”