Zephaniah 3:191NIV New International Version Translations
19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.
This is the only time in the prophetic books that an author traces his genealogy. He mentions a Hezekiah. Why would he go back and stop at Hezekiah if this is not the king Hezekiah? (One of the godly kings.) Therefore, Zephaniah was probably in the royal family and lived in Jerusalem.
So who was King Hezekiah? Hezekiah was supposed to die, but he pleaded with God to let him live a little longer. God granted him his request and it was during the 15 year extension of his life that Manasseh was born. He was the worst king in Judah’s history. The things he promoted in Judah resulted in the nation declining past the point of no return and God pronouncing certain judgment. Although Manasseh repented at the end of his life, his son, Amon, continued the idolatry and decline. Josiah followed Amon and was was a godly king. He brought about spiritual revival, but he could not stop the judgment of God. He could only postpone it. When he died, the people went back to their wicked ways because his reforms were more than likely forced on them – (by edict of the king) – and not from their hearts.
Zephaniah is a prophet of judgment. He prophecies of the imminent devastation of the land of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem because of Judah’s injustice, hypocrisy and idolatry (chap. 1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 586 BC. This is why the faithful remnant is called to seek Jehovah when the nations near and far will feel Jehovah’s vengeance (chap. 2). The actual corrupted state of things stands in contrast to the future blessings of the people as described in chapter 3. The whole book makes it clear that Zephaniah looks far ahead of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem on to that dreadful day of Jehovah, the day of His anger and judgment, upon which however will follow the blessing of the millennial reign of peace.
After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honored where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God’s Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God’s love. Surely our hearts should honor the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.
Items for Discussion
- Is God’s promise of restoration meant for this world or the next?
- How do you think God will deal with the oppressors?
- How do you interpret the rescue of the lame?
- Who are the exiles?
- How might they be gathered?
- What kind of honor is God promising?
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Luke described the city called Philippi as a Roman ‘colony’ (Acts 16:12). The emperor Augustus allowed retired soldiers to live there after they had supported him in a battle in 31 BC. As a Roman colony, its citizens possessed the same rights and laws as those who lived in Italy. Paul and Silas, with Timothy and Luke, established the church there after they crossed from Asia into Europe (Acts 16:12-40). Paul visited Philippi again on his third journey (Acts 20:1-6). It was a group of Christians of whom Paul was very fond. He called its members his ‘joy and crown’ (4:1). The Christians in Philippi were not rich, but they supported Paul with more than one gift of money. They also gave money for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
In chapter one, we find that Paul wanted to thank the Christians at Philippi for the gifts that they had sent him by Epaphroditus.
Verse 3 Paul emphasizes his personal faith by saying ‘my’ God. Some translations say that Paul thanks God because the Christians at Philippi think about him. Verses 3 and 5 mean that he thanks God for two things. He thanks God for the gift of money. But he also thanks God for their spiritual help as they pray for him. When Paul was in Philippi, several of them helped him. They helped him as he told people the good news about Jesus (4:3).
Verse 4 The word ‘joy’ is typical of this letter and Paul uses it many times. Although Paul is in prison, he still has very much joy.
Verse 6 Paul had brought the gospel to Philippi. But he still realized that it was God’s work. He knew that God would continue his grace to the Christians at Philippi. What God has begun, he will complete. The ‘day of Christ Jesus’ is the day when Jesus comes again.
Items for Discussion
- How would the Church of Christ survive without the generosity of people?
- Do you think that financial support helps the people who give or the people who get more?
- Have you ever experienced Paul’s Joy? He is in prison and joyful.
- What is the hope to be found in Paul’s joy?
- Can Paul’s joy and his hope be found in one’s home? How?
- What happens when it is missing?
- How can Paul’s joy be brought forth in every gathering of believers?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations