Reflection for the week 17 December (3rd Sunday in Advent)
The prophets were messengers of both judgement and hope. Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets, is no exception. Although his genealogy in verse 1 of his book is given, little is known of him, except that: his name means 'The Lord protects'; he may have been a member of the royal family tracing his line back to King Hezekiah, and he was a contemporary of Jeremiah.
His message has two major emphases: first, certain judgement for wrongdoers, especially those who are complacent and put their faith in their wealth, power or position in society, and secondly, hope for the faithful, 'all in the land who live humbly, obeying his laws'. (Zephaniah 2: 3)
With a few adjustments in names and situations, this prophet of seventh century BC could stand in our pulpits today and deliver the same message (Disciples' Study Bible). We may have the freedom to disobey God and go our own way, but we do not have the freedom to escape the consequences of that disobedience.
But, says Zephaniah, those who remain faithful will never be forgotten.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah, 3: 17)
Prophet voices loudly crying, making pathways clear,
Glimpsing glory, self-denying, calling all to hear,
Through their message challenged, shaken,
Hearts awaken, God is near! (STF 165)