Zephaniah 2:9-11 (click here for todays passage)
God is in control. Nothing happens behind His back.
God sees the plight of His persecuted people. He hears the ‘’…insults…taunts…threats…’’ (8). Even if your experience of persecution has not got physical; even if it is no more than verbal, He knows and understands. He is aware that words can hurt. Jesus knows it full well (Matthew 27:27-31; 1 Peter 2:23). Ultimately God is going to deal with all persecution and persecutors (10, 11). The opposition is truly against Him, even though His people get in the way of it. But finally, every knee will bow to Him (11b; Philippians 2:5-11). God is going to show that He is God to all who mock Him and poke fun at His family. Take the long view. The book of ‘Revelation’ helps us do this, and says that in the end, Jesus wins. In fact, He’s already won, and one great day the world will be forced to see the score line.
Persecution will have unwanted and unintended consequences for the persecutors (9). It may not happen quickly, but it will happen. There will be a reversal of fortunes and God’s people will gain the upper hand. The ‘team’ that seems to be taking a beating at the moment will lift the ‘trophy’ in the end.
Persecution is born of pride (10); a sense of superiority to God and the church. There is a belief that ‘our gods are better’ and ‘we are greater with our gods. What we’ve got is above what they’ve got, and our gods will protect us.’ Of course, in some cases, those ‘gods’ are no more than political philosophies and raw power. But the opponents are ‘believers’ in their religion. Yet we can say that in the final analysis God will expose the folly, the vanity, the emptiness of all false beliefs, and He will glorify His own Name (11). ‘’GOD will be seen as truly terrible – a Holy Terror’’ (The Message) to all who terrorize His church. ‘’All earth-made gods will shrivel up and blow away.’’ When God shows people the nothingness of their idols, He is preparing them to ‘’worship him’’ (11). By the way, you will always get what you don’t want ‘’in return for’’ pride (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
Today you may be afraid to show your true colours, as a Christian, because of concerns about mockery. It’s never going to be easy to endure, but this oracle should help us see that it’s not something to fear. God is with and for His people. He is the living God and ‘’Almighty’’ (9a). These enemies of Israel were placing their trust in lifeless deities.
Persecution never hurts more than when you experience it in your own family. That is likely to happen (Matthew 10:21, 34-39). The Moabites and Ammonites were related to the Israelites (Genesis 19:36-38), but they acted as enemies throughout most of Israel’s history (Numbers 22; Judges 3 and 10; 1 Samuel 11:1-5; 2 Samuel 12: 26ff). ‘’Notice once again that the Lord’s judgment on the nations is influenced by their treatment of His chosen people Israel (verse 10).’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.1284. (See also Amos 1:13-2:3 and Ezekiel 25:1-11.)
Prayer: Lord God, I look forward to the day when everyone will acknowledge that you are Lord.