Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Preaching Zephaniah

I am half way through an eight-week sermon series on Zephaniah. For last week's Bible Study I produced a crib sheet to remind us of the first three sermons. This may not make a great deal of sense to those who have not heard the sermons but I put it here anyway.

Zephaniah 1:1-7
Deuteronomy 18:15-22; “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah.”
The end of the world, announced in 630s or 620s BC.
  • disintegration of the present political system in early sixth century BC
  • on the cross
  • “at the end of days”
God’s involvement in such disaster; God’s aim.
Invitations to face up to God, e.g. James 5:14-16.

Being silent before God: 
  • stopping the routine, 
  • pausing the activism, 
  • stopping the talking 
– but here ironic.

Zephaniah 1:7-18
“How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23, 25)

The risk factors (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17):
(1) with great power (<- resources) comes great responsibility
(2) wealth & power often disconnect people from those who are less well off
(3) wealth ~ greed + violence and fraud nexus
(4) wealth creates an illusion of independence and safety

“Madame missionary, I never realized that Jesus was all I needed, until Jesus was all I had.”

Zephaniah 2:1-3
The well-off asked to act as if they were poor – as a matter of urgency! Why?
--> Learning about dependence (humility)
--> Developing a longing/hunger for justice (righteousness)

What might this look like for us?
Not simply to give to the poor but to belong with “the humble of the land”.

The “humble of the land”... (who are responsive to God)
(a) humble circumstances, low rank
(b) having a modest estimate of one’s importance
... are asked to seek

(1)  the Lord
(2) righteousness = rightly ordered relationships > justice for me
(3) humility – seeking humility > humbleness being forced upon me