Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God promised punishment because His people would not repent. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to repent of our sins, so we can don’t have to experience God’s punishment.
Read Zephaniah 3:1-2
I. Rebellious City. In our Sunday School material “woe” is pronounced on a city (i.e. Jerusalem). The city is known for oppression. It is known for being rebellious and defiled. She doesn’t obey anyone and doesn’t trust in the Lord.
- Promised judgment. Notice in vss. 1-2 that God sees and has judgment for those who oppress people and who live in rebellion to His will. First, it is good to know that if you are being oppressed that God will handle the oppressors. God will see to that.
Second, we should make sure that we are not oppressing others, so God will not punish us for doing so. There is active oppression – where we cause harm. But there is also passive oppression – where we fail to do the good that we can do (see Mt. 25:41-46).
Third, we should strive to live obedient lives, because God sees and will punish those who don’t. He sees those who rebel against Him, stand defiled before Him, are disobedient, who don’t trust in Him, and who don’t draw near to Him.
We can be religious on the outside, but if we are not striving to live for God from the inside out, we are playing a dangerous game. Let’s work on living in line with God’s will, so we can enjoy His blessings, instead of His punishment.
Read Zephaniah 3:3-4
II. Ruthless Leaders. The city has terrible leadership. In our Sunday School material the officials are compared to lions and the rulers to wolves. The prophets are treacherous, and the priests do violence to the law.
- Leadership. Notice in vss. 3-4 that God sees the leaders and will hold them accountable. First, God is God of the entire world, not just the spiritual parts like the church and temple. God sent kings and prophets. Thus, we should be open to God using us for civic responsibilities and hold them accountable for doing their job in godly ways.
Second, God will hold all leaders accountable for what He expects out of them. This goes for civic leaders like the mayor, governor, and president. It also goes for church leaders. As leaders, let’s work on living in line with God’s expectations. As followers and helpers, let’s pray for and support our leaders in living by God’s expectations.
Read Zephaniah 3:5-8
III. Righteous God. In our Sunday School material the Lord talks about how He has destroyed other cities. However, He had hoped that Jerusalem would take heed to His word. But since she chose to be disobedient, the Lord will administer great punishment.
- God’s consistency. Notice in vs. 5 of our Sunday School material that God is consistent, in spite of shameless unrighteous people. First, we should thank God for His consistency. In a world where people change up on us so often, it is good to know that God is consistently good.
Second, being unrighteous is bad, but having no shame is even worse. We should strive to consistently live by God’s will. Let’s strive to live obedient lives, as our way of telling the Lord “thank You” for being so consistently good.
- Learning from the mistakes of others. Notice in vss. 6-7 that God wanted His people to see the destruction that came to others and repent of their sins. First, God wants what is best for us. When He says “no,” it is not because He is mean. It is because He is protecting us. When He says “yes,” it is for our good.
Second, we should strive to learn from the mistakes of others. This is better than our having to repeat their mistakes and suffering the same punishment.
Third, the people were eager to keep on doing wrong. We may say that we are not like them. However, our behavior speaks louder than our words. Let’s strive to live by God’s will, so we can be blessed and avoid the punishment that He has administered to others.
- God’s promises. Notice in vs. 8 that judgment was promised. We should never think that since God has not punished us yet that He is not going to do anything. On the contrary, God will do what He said He will do, but He does it according to His own timing.
Let’s live like we trust that God will do what He said that He will do. Because He promised to bless obedience and punish disobedience, we should live obedient lives and strive to avoid disobedience.
Conclusion: Let’s work on repenting from our sins, so we can don’t have to experience God’s punishment. God has much for those who obey His will.Please click here to let us know, if this has been quality and helpful information for you (i.e., make sure you let us know the name of the article). Feel free to share your questions and comments about the article as well.