Friday, July 16, 2010


It's been a while since we looked at Zephaniah, but today's section looks forward to that time when sin and the shame of that sin are removed from the people of God. Since Adam and Eve first rebelled, our sinful actions have been accompanied by a sense of shame. We know that we're doing wrong, and are ashamed at our actions. For Adam and Eve, it was hiding from God when they realised they were naked.

So how can we remove the shame that we rightly feel at what we have done? Is there some magic formula for shame-removal? Some daily prescription to take and work the shame away? Not quite. Rather, with the removal of our sin by God himself (as finally occurred at the cross of the Lord Jesus), Zephaniah looks forward to when the rebellious are themselves removed.

"On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain."
(Zeph 3:11)

The remedy for rebellion is the removal of the stubbornly rebellious, and the exchange of haughtiness for humility. Instead of the haughty, the proud ones, the LORD will leave the humble and lowly in Israel. And what is the mark of being lowly and humble?

'They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel.' (Zeph 3:12)

That is, rather than depending on yourself for what you need and for your deliverance, the humble trust in the LORD, fleeing to him for refuge and shelter. But Zephaniah goes further. Not only do these humble, the properly shameless, trust in the LORD, this dependence issues in their changed lives.

Rather than pursuing their own agenda and own interests, by whatever means, the humble instead are marked by no injustice, no lies and no deceitful tongue. How we deal with others is so completely changed when we come to the LORD for salvation. Yet I'm only too aware that I'm a work in progress. That I'm by no means perfect - and to spend any time in a church family, you'll soon realise that we aren't finished yet. God has promised this through Zephaniah, and we come to realise that this is a picture of the redeemed community in glory, when sin has been banished forever.

When we do encounter hurtful experiences in church, we are driven to pray all the more for the day to come soon when sin is finished with, and we do enjoy this perfect community, when we will (in the words of verse 13) graze and lie down, and none shall make us afraid - a picture of peace, safety and security.

So which group of people are part of? The shameful, those who are haughty and proud in your rebellion against God; or the to-be shameless, trusting in the LORD for refuge, preparing for this sinless eternity with the people of God?

For those who will trust, the promise is sure. No fear. No shame.

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