Friday, December 19, 2008
the desolate city and Zephaniah
I'm finding the act of working on this week's morning bell very hopeful. I've never spent much time before with the book of the prophet Zephaniah from the Jewish scriptures. But this text, which the scholars seem to think dates from the latter part of the 7th century BC in the setting of Jerusalem feels like it could have been written now, in any number of places across the world. It's an agonised piece of writing from a city left desolate by the folly of its people, with particular blame attributed to those in positions of power. The words of God 'therefore wait for me' are the turning point in the text [3:8]. Through the time of trial comes 'a people humble and lowly' who will seek God and bring change. The book finishes with an image that perhaps inspired Jesus, who would have been familiar with the writing:'I will gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise'. Zephaniah - a prophet for our times. Saying it as it is, sparing us nothing of the desolation, but holding out hope if we decide to live differently.