Friday, June 10, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 12, 2016

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(Jerusalem’s rebellion)
(Zephaniah 3:1-8)

   In the opening passage of Zephaniah 3, the prophet announces a three-fold indictment from the LORD against the city of Jerusalem. Those indictments include these three charges;

·         Oppression of its own people
·         Direct rebellion against GOD
·         Defilement of the Temple

    Jerusalem had become a polluted city filled with crime and violence. Her pride had caused her to no longer listen to GOD, and, in fact, they refused any correction from any GODly source, whatsoever. Their officials had become like hungry lions preying on the citizens of Israel, taking them for everything that they could, either by stealth, or by force.
    Their robber judges (dayanneh gezeloths) were like ravenous wolves, who, by dawn, had left no trace of their prey from the night before. Even the prophets of Israel had become arrogant liars, who were out for their own personal gain. And even the priests of the temple were defiled by their shameless failure to obey the laws of the Almighty GOD that they were sworn to serve.
    In verses 6-8 the LORD says that;

“I have wiped out many nations,
    devastating their fortress walls and towers.
Their streets are now deserted;
    their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors—
    none at all.
I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now!
    Surely they will listen to my warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
    destroying their homes.’
But no, they get up early
    to continue their evil deeds.
Therefore, be patient,” says the Lord.
    “Soon I will stand and accuse these evil nations.
For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth
    and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them.
All the earth will be devoured
    by the fire of my jealousy”.

    Here we see that the LORD has already rehearsed HIS actions by punishing the pagan nations that lived around Israel, devastating them, and leaving them desolate, and in some cases, even without survivors. HE wanted to use the judgment of those nations as a warning to HIS backslidden nation of Israel, of what could befall them if they didn’t soon repent and return to obedience.
    The LORD had acted as HE always does, according to HIS OWN righteousness, by judging those nations according to their own wickedness. Still we see a defiant Judah consciously and purposely, if not eagerly, continue to practice their corrupt and evil behavior under the watchful eye of GOD.
    The Israelites mistakenly believed that, because they were known as GOD’s chosen nation, they were exempt from GOD’s judgment. However, here Zephaniah’s prophecy pokes a gaping hole in their prideful delusions, as he vigorously works his ministry to try to alter the fate of his people, from the path of destruction, to the path of righteousness and salvation.
    The Israelites were always careful to remind the nations of the world of the “privilege” they enjoyed as being GOD’s chosen people, but they always failed to realize the “responsibility” that came with that privilege. The city of Jerusalem was not only the political center of Israel, but it was also the religious center of Israel. They also believed that they would be the focal point of the coming MESSIAH, from the line of David, and that GOD’s promise to him, would bring them, both prominence, and peace.  
    However, the Israelites insistence on doing evil, combined with their blatant refusal to learn from the examples by which GOD had judged the nations around them, put the final ingredients into a recipe for their own demise, which would occur in three stages, in 605, 597, and 586 B.C., at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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