A Gracious Reversal of Fortune
November 2, 2014 Series: The Old Testament
Passage: Zephaniah 3:11-20
Zephaniah was the great-grandson of the faithful King Hezekiah and a contemporary of Habakkuk and Jeremiah. He knew that faithful people still held onto the LORD’s promises and commands while he witnessed the vast majority give in to other viewpoints and worship idols. As it was close to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction Zephaniah assured the proud and idolatrous that they faced certain judgment (the impending Day of the LORD) and comforted the faithful that God would vindicate them and restore their fortunes.
THE LORD GIVES & TAKES AWAY
Read the sermon passage Zephaniah 3:11-20 & Job 1:21. Why do we believe that anyone can have hope in the face of certain judgment by what Jesus does and provides? How have you experienced the LORD as a refuge and Savior? As an exercise to warm your heart to just how much the LORD does for His people, talk together as a group about all the things God is described as doing in just Zephaniah 3.
Job describes the LORD as One who gives and takes away. Typically we think of God giving as good but His taking away as bad (or at least hard to bear). What have you seen the LORD take away that you were glad (e.g. pride, enemies, condemnation, fear, etc.)? Where have you needed Him to give and something less tangible (like security, relief, calm, etc.)? How have you seen the LORD save the broken and vulnerable? How has He reversed your fortunes?
IN PRIDE WE TRY TO TAKE
It is not enough to merely “know” about God. By sin we refuse what God provides and doubt what He does. Zephaniah mentions how Judah had rebelled. How have you rebelled against the LORD? In answer to Judah’s pride, the LORD foretold trouble and even doom (Zephaniah 2:15).
How is pride a form of possessiveness? In seeking to be our own god, how do we try to take what only God gives? And when faced with the consequences of your sin, how has it led you to be upset, turbulent or agitated?
WE CANNOT BE TAKEN
Read again Zephaniah 3:17 & 2:3. How has Jesus outwitted Satan? How has He has turned rejection to love and violence to accomplish what Satan cannot grasp – kind, loving forgiveness?
The familiar expectation in ancient Israel was that a bride was anxious if not terrified on her wedding night. Using this bridal imagery how would this picture of God be good news? Read Isaiah 62:3-5 & John 10:27-30. How do these promises by Jesus give you hope? How have you lived refusing what God provides and doubting what He has done? Confess your pride to Jesus, asking Him to forgive you for trying to take what only He can give.
YOU CAN PRAY WITH US…
- Worship the LORD for His grace and provision. Praise Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for how He has taken away all that threatens us and given us freely all that we will ever need.
- How have you lived refusing what God provides and doubting what He has done? Confess your pride to Jesus, asking Him to forgive you for trying to take what only He can give.
- Give thanks to Jesus for how He chose to be treated like the thieves that we are so that we could be loved like the Treasure that He is. Thank Him for claiming you as His Bride to save you and bring you true peace.
- Who do you know that lives an agitated or turbulent life? Pray for them, asking the Lord to make known to them His power to save and His readiness to delight in anyone who trusts Him.
- Read Isaiah 62:3-5. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you rest in Jesus’ pure love. Pray for such peace and fullness by His work in your life that you would know what it means that He quiets you with His love.