Oct 10, 2021
Zephaniah’s prophecy opens with a declaration that the Lord “will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth” (Zephaniah 1:2) but ends with a gentle promise that He will bring His people in, gathering the outcasts together (Zephaniah 3:19). The surprisingly hopeful ending of the book is reflected in many of the elements in this morning’s service. We hear God comparing Himself to a shepherd who searches for a scattered flock in the reading from Ezekiel 34. We respond with the hymn Jesus Shepherd Of Thy People and the psalm setting O Come Before The Lord Our King—Psalm 95, in which we sing, “We are His sheep … He safely leads us in the way.” The Call to Worship from Psalm 69 mentions that the Lord “does not despise His own people who are prisoners.” Similarly, the hymns Jesus Shall Reign, Come Ye Souls, By Sin Afflicted, and From Babel To Zion speak of prisoners losing their chains, ransomed captives arriving safe in glory, and the faithful coming home from bondage. We can take hold of these promises only through the work of Christ. Our opening and closing hymns, O Christ Our Hope and There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy, put it well: because He died a cruel death, taking on the wrath of God to set His people free, we can “come and gather at His feet.” —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Mourn, Lame, Shame, Reproach, Outcast, Save, Gather, Praise, Restore Keystone Verse: Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. (Zephaniah 3:19)
Zephaniah 3:18-20 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. 19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20 At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.