International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 12, 2016
Purpose: To consider God’s warning of punishment and God’s desire that humankind correct disobedience
Bible Lesson: Zephaniah 3:6-8
Background Scripture: Genesis 1:1–2:3; Zephaniah 3:1-8
Key Verse: [God] said, “Surely, she will fear me; she will take instruction so that her habitation won’t be cut off because of everything I did to her.” (Zephaniah 3:7)
Zephaniah 3:6-8 (CEB)
(6) I will cut off nations; their towers will be destroyed; I will devastate their streets. No one will pass through. Their cities will be laid waste. There will be no person, no inhabitant left. (7) I said, “Surely, she will fear me; she will take instruction so that her habitation won’t be cut off because of everything I did to her.” However, they rose early to corrupt their deeds. (8) Therefore, wait for me, says the Lord, wait for the day when I rise up as a witness, when I decide to gather nations, to collect kingdoms, to pour out my indignation upon them, all the heat of my anger. In the fire of my jealousy, all the earth will be devoured
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I think it is impossible to read verse 6 and not think of the towers we all saw come down on September 11, 2001. I think it is interesting to note the effect of that event on church attendance for a short period of time.
I find the event of 9/11 creating the same atmosphere that God was trying to create through Zephaniah’s prophecy. I think it is possible to draw a parallel between today and Judah at the time of Zephaniah. Because I think it is important to read the verses preceding our text I am printing it here.
(1) Doom, obstinate one, the defiled one, the violent city. (2) She listened to no voice; she accepted no discipline. She didn’t trust in the Lord, nor did she draw near to her God. (3) The princes in her midst are roaring lions. Her judges are wolves of the evening; they leave nothing for the morning. (4) Her prophets are reckless, men of treachery. Her priests pollute that which is holy; they do violence to the instruction. (5) The Lord is righteous in her midst. He does nothing unjust. Morning by morning he renders justice, but the unrighteous one knows no shame.
As you read these first 5 verses you see a world paralleling our own, the government and the religious leaders all devouring and depicted as beast of prey. Like them, we are polluting the holy and ignoring God’s instructions (His word). The hope is in verse 5, when amidst it all God is there, willing and able to render justice.
The question we have to ask ourselves is do we believe God’s word to be alive? If we believe God still speaks to us through His word, how should we interpret today’s text for us?
God’s hope is that we learn something from the prophecy and repent. If we do, there is still time for God to bless us and redeem our generation. God would always rather redeem than destroy. Faced with those choices what do you choose?
My hymn for this week is a great hymn written by A.B. Simpson the founder of both the Christian and Missionary Alliance and The Assemblies of God. “Yesterday, Today, Forever”,