Posted by: mattcolvin | November 13, 2011

Zephaniah 3: Exile and Back Again

Tuesday of the 21st week after Trinity: Zephaniah 3.

3:1-3 – Zephaniah describes the “oppressing city”. Her rulers, who ought to be shepherds, are wolves and lions instead. Her prophets are “insolent and treacherous.” Her priests, whose job was to keep the Temple a place for Israel to meet with God in cleanness, “have polluted the sanctuary.” They all do exactly the opposite of what their offices require.

YHWH’s judgment proceeds from provocation with Jerusalem (1-5), to chastisement in the form of military defeat (6-7), to actual exile (8). But exile is not the end, because YHWH is the God of the living, the God of resurrection. He will bring them back even “from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (10), which is, for the Jews as for the Greeks, the uttermost southern end of the known world. Once they return, they will offer acceptable worship (10) with meekness and humility (12). Then the flock of the Lord will be fed, instead of being devoured, and there will be punishment for those who misled or oppressed His people.

This is the pattern of Israel: through exile and out the other side, as N.T. Wright likes to put it. This is the pattern of God who raises the dead.

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