Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pure Speech

So far in our protracted series in Zephaniah, we've seen one element of the Day of the Lord - the judgement of all people. Yet the Day of the Lord also means the salvation of God's people.

The book of Zephaniah has so far concentrated on the judgement, both of Jerusalem and the nations. The closing section of chapter 3 brings an amazing picture of restoration and salvation. Amazing, because God's salvation is not just for Jerusalem and Israel, but for people from every nation!

In the week after Pentecost Sunday, it's maybe a very appropriate time to think about the ingathering of the nations:

9 "For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering."

Remember back in Genesis 11, with the building of the first sky-scraper, the Tower of Babel? The people had tried to make a name for themselves by building the tower to reach heaven. God cursed their work, and the curse was in the form of the confusion of their language. Suddenly the workers couldn't make head nor tail of what each other was saying. The building work ceased, and the peoples dispersed, the nations separated, each with their own tongue and language.

God promises that in the end, in the day of the Lord, that curse will be overturned and reversed, that all will speak a pure speech so they can call on the name of the Lord and be saved. It's not that everyone speaks Hebrew (thankfully) - but as we see in the fulfillment of the promise, God speaks everyone's language! In Acts 2 we see the effects of the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit, as the apostles and others are empowered to proclaim the 'mighty works of God' (Acts 2:11) in a variety of languages. So many call upon the Lord that day that around 3000 are baptised!

This spreading of the good news continues to this day, as Bible translators continue to work to reach languages which don't currently have the Scriptures. Indeed, probably most of us reading this are included among the Gentiles, the foreign people brought near in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that he would be a blessing to the nations.

In Revelation we see the completion of this promise, in the 'great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes' together worshipping the Lord. There's no room for racism in the church - Jesus' salvation is for all nations and all peoples. We must reach the unreached and proclaim the mighty works of God to every nation. Are you reaching your own people group? Will you reach another nation? We must

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