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Daily Worship


June 14 | Zephaniah 3:17-20






Harsh Reality

by Jennifer Jerrome

Zephaniah is one of the smaller and lesser-known books of the Bible, but it sure packs a punch. The second verse states, “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. Yikes!

Zephaniah watched as Israel turned away from God, so he wanted to give King Josiah and surrounding nations a picture of what was to come if they didn’t change their ways.

The first two chapters were a warning that God’s judgement was coming and coming quickly.

"That day will be a day of wrath –

a day of distress and anguish

a day of trouble and ruin

a day of darkness and gloom

a day of clouds and blackness." (1:15)


"In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth." (1:18) Yikes again!


I imagine if I were living in Jerusalem at the time, my anxious heart would grow increasingly more anxious; BUT Zephaniah prophesied there was still time to turn things around.


"Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger." (2:3)


In stark contrast to the first chapters, Chapter 3 talks about the Restoration of Israel.


"Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment; he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm." (3:14-15) (Sigh of relief!)


Today’s devotion focuses on the final four verses which depict a much more loving God who "will take great delight in you."


Verse 17 refers to God as the Mighty Warrior who saves and rejoices over you with singing, as opposed to the Mighty Warrior of 1:14 who shouts his battle cry before destroying the earth.


Zephaniah is definitely a study in contradictions, as are many books of the Bible, but for as many times as we hear about God’s wrath, we hear about his loving mercy even more. The Mighty Warrior is also a Gentle Peacemaker. And as much as I’d like to focus on the “goodness” of God, the fire of his jealous anger cannot be ignored.  


The world is a messed-up mix of darkness and light, despair and hope. It’s one of the things I struggle to reconcile in my mind that wants so badly for everything to be pleasant and agreeable. Conflict is hard for me, but it is through the fire that we are baptized into new life. It is through the fire that God brings us home.


Father God, in you co-exists Mighty Warrior and Gentle Peacemaker. May we acknowledge the contrasts and know you want nothing more than to gather us to yourself and give us honor and praise. Thank you for the words of Zephaniah. Though sometimes harsh, they ultimately lead to a hope that can only be found in you. Amen.

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