(Sorry for previous posting of gibberish – never try to write posts on a phone in the middle of the night!)
This is another of those passages I’m tempted to leave well alone. But if we don’t struggle with such passages, how will we ever come to a deeper understanding of God and faith and so deepen our relationship with him? So here goes. Just some thoughts, feel free to join the conversation and grappling. (Remembering that such passages are people also grappling with God, who he is and what he means – living in an entirely different time space to our own.)
How often do we long for God to do something in a situation? We cry out for him to act.
Yet if he did what was truly necessary would we be happy with his response?
This passage seems incredibly harsh, but is it what was really needed to sort an awful situation?
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 (GNT)
7 The day is near when the Lord will sit in judgment; so be silent in his presence. The Lord is preparing to sacrifice his people and has invited enemies to plunder Judah.
12 “At that time I will take a lamp and search Jerusalem. I will punish the people who are self-satisfied and confident, who say to themselves, ‘The Lord never does anything, one way or the other.’ 13 Their wealth will be looted and their houses destroyed. They will never live in the houses they are building or drink wine from the vineyards they are planting.”
14 The great day of the Lord is near—very near and coming fast! That day will be bitter, for even the bravest soldiers will cry out in despair! 15 It will be a day of fury, a day of trouble and distress, a day of ruin and destruction, a day of darkness and gloom, a black and cloudy day, 16 a day filled with the sound of war trumpets and the battle cry of soldiers attacking fortified cities and high towers.
17 The Lord says, “I will bring such disasters on the human race that everyone will grope about like someone blind. They have sinned against me, and now their blood will be poured out like water, and their dead bodies will lie rotting on the ground.”
18 On the day when the Lord shows his fury, not even all their silver and gold will save them. The whole earth will be destroyed by the fire of his anger. He will put an end—a sudden end—to everyone who lives on earth.
As per a discussion on twitter yesterday (Remembrance Sunday) sometimes something we perceive as awful has to happen to stop a bigger travesty.
I wasn’t necc saying air strikes are wrong – fact that they’re needed is…
Is that how it is with God? In order to sort one thing, is it necessary that what we perceive to be harsh action has to be taken? If people were behaving the right way action wouldn’t have to be taken. If they (we) were doing the right thing, no one would be in any danger, because all would be good.
So if we don’t like the idea of God being angry and how that might look, perhaps the answer is in our own, individual and collective, hands.
Of course the other side of this for us that wasn’t true for Zephaniah, is that we live post-Jesus. He came and showed those of us that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, grasp what God had been saying all along what it physically, humanly, should be like. And he gives the possibility of making it alright and a new start if we choose to take it.
The anger and judgement of God displayed in an Old Testament understanding is perfectly understandable. I can see how that was perceived to be what needed to happen.
Thank God we have Jesus, who brings a different way, a fresh hope and a new way!
Lord I know
I get stuff wrong,
behave the wrong way,
say the wrong things,
forget about you,
overlook my fellow human,
sometimes just totally misunderstand.
I deserve for action to be taken,
for there to be consequences.
Thank you for Jesus,
for new hope,
life in you.
Help me Lord
to live in
and through him.