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Lesson No. 34—Read, Study and Master the Scriptures in Class.

LESSON THEME:—ZEPHANIAH

Zephaniah 2:1-3.

  • KEY WORD—”REMNANT.”

  • KEY VERSEZephaniah 2 :3.

  • KEY PHRASE—”A REMNANT HID FROM THE WRATH OF GOD.”

Home Readings.

Read the lesson and then the book of Zephaniah as follows:—

WRITER—The prophet was a grandson of King Hezekiah of Judah, and his name means “Hid of the Lord.”

TIMES OF THE PROPHET—He prophesied about 630 B. C. in the reign of the young and good King Josiah. Two wicked and idol-worshipping kings had preceded Josiah on the throne, so that the land was full of evil practices. Social injustice and moral corruption were widespread. The rich heaped up fortunes and indulged in luxuries by grinding down the poor. The religious situation also was as bad as it could be. To remedy this, Josiah, when but sixteen years of age, undertook to promote a religious revival, and became one of the best and most-loved kings. Under the counsel and help of the prophet, Josiah took an active part in the great reforms. Taking a hatchet and pick-axe he personally broke down altars and images. How encouraging to the reformers must have been the words of Zephaniah in the key verse.

PURPOSE

  1. To show that a faithful remnant (remaining few) should be delivered from captivity.

  2. To show that the heathen shall be converted.

  3. To show that instead of men having to worship God at Jerusalem, they might do so anywhere, Zephaniah 2:11, which is confirmed in John 4:21.

GREAT FACTS:—

  1. Judah.

  2. Heathen.

  3. Remnant.

Great Fact I. Judah Denounced.

Zephaniah 1; Zephaniah 2; Zephaniah 3.

After a sweeping threat in the first verse, the prophet then denounces three classes of false worshippers of Judah.

  1. The black-robed unlawful priests of Baal, together with the unworthy priests of Jehovah, and those who worship the stars from the housetops. Zephaniah 1:4-5.

  2. Those who so waver that at one time they swear by the Lord, and at other times swear by the god Moloch. Zephaniah 1:5.

  3. Those who turn backward from outwardly following the Lord, and now despise Him. Zephaniah 1:6.

Upon all these shall come a series of punishments “in the Day of the Lord.” This phrase is an important one and is often used in prophecy. The word “day” in Scripture is used exactly as we use it today. When we use a numeral in front of the word, and speak of 3 days or 40 days we always mean 3 or 40 literal days of 24 hours each. It is so with Scripture, and for this reason we are confident that the days of Creation were literal days. On the other hand, both Scripture, and we ourselves, use the word “day” in another sense. We speak of Washington’s day or Luther’s day, meaning in the time of Washington or of Luther. So when the Scripture speaks of the “Day of the Lord” it means “the time of the Lord’s special working.” This day of the Lord for the Jews of Zephaniah’s time was the Lord’s special working in events and punishments of the captivity. The future Day of the Lord is the period of the Great Tribulation and the Millennium, Revelation 6:1-17.

LESSON—We learn that it is not possible to serve two masters, as many of Judah were trying to do at the same time. Christ teaches this in Matthew 6:24. God says “Defraud not, never lie, be honest and just in thy dealings.” Satan says, “Cheat your own father if you can gain by it.” God says, “Keep holy the Sabbath Day.” Satan says, ‘Make it a day of worldly pleasure.” No one has success or joy trying to serve two masters. The secret of happiness is wholeheartedness. Therefore Joshua 24:15.

We learn also the certainty of coming judgement. A. king of Hungary had a brother who would never think of this. It was a custom of that country that if an executioner sounded a trumpet before any man’s door he was presently led to execution. The king, in the dead hour of the night sent the executioner to sound the trumpet before his brother’s door, who, hearing it was greatly alarmed and at once tried to make peace with his brother. “Brother,” said the king, “if a summons to judgement from an earthly king causes you so much fear, how much more the trumpet of the last day, therefore ‘prepare to meet thy God.’ “

Great Fact II. Heathen. Nations Denounced.

Zephaniah 2:4-15.

Five heathen nations, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia and Assyria, shall be visited with wrath for their scorn and pride towards the Lord’s people. Their idols shall be broken up, and the heathen shall worship God, everyone in his own country. Instead of all men making pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they may worship God anywhere.

LESSON—The Jews taught that Jerusalem alone was the place of worship and the Samaritans that Gerizim should be the religious centre, but the prophet saw that spiritual worship did not depend upon so-called holy places. Since this time scores of places, like Rome and Mecca, have been set aside as holy, and men have superstitiously undergone every hardship in order to worship at these shrines.

The sacredness of worship, however, depends not on the place, but on the divine Presence that comes in response to prayer. Men are to lift holy lands in prayer in every place from the rising to the setting of the sun, Malachi 1-11. If God’s people shall meet with humble and devout souls, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. then no matter the place, it will be “none other than the House of God and the gate of heaven.”

Jesus, where’er thy people meet, there they behold thy mercy-seat. Where’er the seek thee thou art found and every spot dedicated, ground!

Great Fact III. A Remnant Shall Be Blessed and Honoured.

Zephaniah 3.

A faithful few will be delivered, and must wait with patience until the judgement of the wicked nations is overpast. Then the remnant shall call upon Jehovah with pure lips and a pure heart and shall be accepted. Then the prophet speaks in glowing language of the safety and glory of the purged and purified people of Zion.

LESSON-The blessings of the remnant would depend, as with us, upon them being spiritual.

  1. They should be humble in spirit.

  2. Upright in conduct.

  3. Depending upon God.

This would result in them being:

  1. Cleansed from shame.

  2. Delivered from spiritual pride.

  3. Redeemed from proud oppressors.

  4. Specially protected by God.

Tell the sailor he shall have no more storms at sea. Tell the labouring man he shall have no more financial worries. Tell the farmer he shall have no more had crops, and he ‘would have some idea of the joy that must have filled the hearts of the

Jews when the prophet predicted that a time was coming when evil should exist no more among them. This prophecy shall yet be blessedly fulfilled in the Kingdom age.

Questions on the Lesson.

  1. Who was the prophet and what does his name mean?

  2. Tell of the religious conditions of the time.

  3. Tell of the great work of King Josiah.

  4. Give key word and key verse.

  5. What the meaning of the word Remnant?

  6. Give the three purposes of book.

  7. Name the great facts.

  8. Name the three classes of false worshippers.

  9. What should come upon them?

  10. Explain the Day of the Lord.

  11. Show if it is not possible to serve two masters.

  12. Illustrate the mistake in not being ready for the Judgement?

  13. Show that worship does not depend upon holy places.

  14. What are the conditions of spiritual worship?

  15. Upon what did the results of the remnant depend?

  16. What was the result of God’s blessings upon them?

  17. Illustrate the joys these hopes brought to the Jews.

  18. When will these promises be literally fulfilled?

  19. Have you read the book of Zephaniah?

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