I’ve been hearing a lot about suffering lately. In my Philippians class, week 7, that seems to be the prevailing topic. Which would explain why I’m behind. That and we had a medical emergency involving my younger son while we were out of town this weekend. So I’m trying to keep my distance from the subject of suffering. But it keeps popping up.
Consider the readings from the book of Zephaniah. It was difficult for me that I had to resort to looking at ask.com! I don’t know if the picture is authentic because I can’t understand the original the caption but let’s go with it.
The Book of Zephaniah contains in its three chapters the fundamental ideas of the preaching of Zephaniah. The scheme of the book in its present form is as follows:
a) 1:2-2:3. Warnings about the “day of the Lord”, a Dies irae, dies illa[of the Old Testament. The judgment of the Lord will descend on Judah and Jerusalem as a punishment for the awful degeneracy in religious life (1:4-7a); it will extend to all classes of the people (1:7b-13), and will be attended with all the horrors of a frightful catastrophe (1:14-18); therefore, repent and seek the Lord (2:1-3).
b) 2:4-15. Not only Jerusalem, but the entire world is subject to judgment, including the Philistines, (4-7) Moabites, Ammonites, (8-11) Ethiopians, (12) Assyrians and Ninivites (13-15).
c) 3:1-8. The Prophet focuses once again on Jerusalem: “Woe to the provoking, and redeemed city … She hath not hearkened to the voice, neither hath she received discipline.” The severest reckoning will be required of the leading classes of the civil community, and of the Prophets and priests as the directors of public worship.
See what I mean? There are only three chapters in this book and most of it involved very, very dire predictions of the judgment of the Lord. I can’t help but think that our world is ripe for this type of judgment as well.
Back then as it is now, what is the root of it all?
Gov. Mike Huckabee said it best in light of the Aurora, CO shooting: “Ultimately, We don’t have a crime problem or a gun problem – or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we ordered God out of our schools and communities, the military and public conversations, you know, we really shouldn’t act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.”
Until we have dealt with our sin – meaning we acknowledge that we miss the mark – and repented of it, we will continue in this downward spiral. It goes for our country and it goes for ourselves as well. A friend and I are doing a devotion together in praying for our husbands.What I’m learning is that before God deals with my husband, He needs to deal with me first. He needs to take care of my pride, selfishness, impatience and a host of other things that frankly make me cry. He needs to clean my heart so I can approach Him with the right attitude.
Remember the Philippians homework I mentioned earlier? Kay Arthur had us look through verses involving “suffering.” What I noticed is after we endure the suffering, there’s always glory. There’s always a happy ending. The Book of Zephaniah ends in the same way, beginning in Zephaniah 3:9-20. It talks about the “Kingdom of God in which all the world unites and turns to God, the prosperity of the Messianic Kingdom will be enjoyed.”
Of course, it’s the part I like best.
20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.
Let me just encourage you if you are going through something difficult right now: go through. There’s glory waiting for you.
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]