“I will completely sweep away everything from the face of the earth — this is the Lord’s declaration.” — Zephaniah 1:2 (CSB – Read the chapter)
So often, when people think about the prophets, they imagine a bunch of bearded, angry men who sit around condemning everyone and warning all who will listen that God is going to destroy everything in judgment. And as we have been on this journey through the prophets over the last few months, we have mostly discovered this image isn’t at all true. There has certainly been the promise of judgment, but there has been a whole lot more than that. As we come to Zephaniah, though, all that seems to fly out the window. Let’s talk about it.
What are we supposed to do with all the time we have on our hands now? Perhaps you don’t feel that tension during the day if your household is like ours and you’re trying to both work full-time and do school for your kids, but as the busyness of the day ends and the weekends arrive, it may make itself known. In a day when many people are wondering what we’re supposed to be doing, here are some answers to that tough question.
Reverend Jonathan Waits Sermon: Redeeming Your Time (2 Peter 3:14-17) Date: April 5, 2020
So, are you bored yet? As I occasionally scroll through my Facebook feed, I see post after post of people asking to be entertained. We are living in an interesting time. For a society that is as digitally fed as ours is, we are collectively learning that you can only stream so much content before you’ve had enough. The other day my boys watched a show in the morning, and then entirely of their own accord turned the TV off and went outside to play for pretty much the rest of the morning. All by themselves. I didn’t have to tell them to go at all. I wondered for just a bit if someone had replaced all my children with doppelgangers. Our culture is collectively rediscovering that there is a whole world outdoors that reflects God’s beauty and is worth exploring to its fullest. We are reconnecting on walks in ways we haven’t done in some time. I wonder sometimes if our reaction once things get back to whatever normal is going to be on the other side of this will be to overload on busyness to make up for the lack we have enjoyed, or to realize just how busy we were in comparison with how we have been and opt for a slower pace all on our own. Then again, perhaps not, but maybe. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that these are interesting times and not necessarily in a good way.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!” (CSB – Read the chapter)
The news lately seems to be getting worse every day. I see the daily infection rates and the growing death count and my heart sinks just a bit each morning. It breaks for the tragedy these families are facing. It breaks for the hopelessness that has to be clawing at the hearts of the healthcare workers who are bearing the load of seeing patient after patient die in spite of their best efforts. It breaks for the children—including mine—who don’t understand social distancing and just long to play with and see their friends again. What do we do when chaos seems to reign just a little bit more each day? Here at the end of his collection of prophecy, Habakkuk offers us a way forward.
“Lord, I have heard the report about you; Lord, I stand in awe of your deeds. Revive your work in these years; make it known in these years. In your wrath remember mercy!” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What do we pray at such a time as this? How do we call on the Lord? Chaos seems to reign and the news doesn’t feel like it is getting any better. For every step forward it seems we take, there are more steps back than we can count. Anxiety is building. Fear is rising. What do we pray at such a time as this?
“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let the whole earth be silent in his presence.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
There are some people who, when they speak, everyone around them listens. You’ve perhaps been around people like this before. There was just something about them. Not everyone has this. It’s generally a reputation that is earned over time. Not everyone recognizes it immediately. But when they do, they fall in line. What Habakkuk wants us to recognize here is that God is one of these people.