Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Those in Every Nation: Bible Comment on Zephaniah 2 with poem by Thomas Curtis Clark, The Message of Zephaniah

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 10, I Samuel 20, Zephaniah 2, Romans 8

Daily Text: Zephaniah 2

Those in Every Nation
Zephaniah 2 opens with a suggestion that the nation could still repent and be saved, at least the humble could. But is this referring to Judah or to Philistia? The context seems at first to be one and then the other. This writer prefers to see vs. 4 and the reference to the cities of Philistia as setting the context for the first four verses. If so, the prophet is recognizing that there are those in every nation that serve the LORD. Philistia is expanded upon in verses 5-7, thereafter being followed by messages about Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia and Assyria in that order. It might be helpful to say that these are not prophecies against these nations so much as messages to Judah about the LORD’s power over these nations. If these nations will not escape the judgement of the day of the LORD, how can Judah expect to escape [cf. Berlin 511:117]?

An interesting note is that the prophecies include nations to the West, East, South and North of Judah, obviously suggesting that God will bring into judgement all of those around, regardless of their strength. But then, why not mentioned Edom or even more particularly, Egypt, which is skipped to name Ethiopia? It may be, of course, that Zephaniah is being politically sensitive since Josiah would like help from Egypt. We cannot know, however, political sensitivity is seldom a prophetic quality.

The Message of Zephaniah
Thomas Curtis Clark

The day of Jehovah is at hand! And they
Who violate the sacred places shall die.
Their wealth shall vanish and their land
Shall be despoiled, their houses desolate.
Gaza, Ashkelon shall be forsaken’
Ashdod and Ekron shall be rooted up;
And the lords of wrath shall be no more.
Jehovah hath spoken!

Nineveh, that bloody city which said,
I am, and there is none beside me,
Shall be a place for beasts to lie in.

Sing, O daughters of Zion, my people;
Be glad and rejoice, for Jehovah thy God
Hath cast out the enemy. And I,
The God of Israel, am in thy midst.
And I will make you a name and a praise
When I bring back your captivity.
Thus saith Jehovah!

Collect for the Day
O thou who art the everlasting Essence of things beyond space and time and yet within them; thou who transcendest yet pervadest all things, manifest thyself unto us, feeling after thee, seeking thee in the shades of ignorance. Stretch forth thy hand to help us, who cannot without thee come to thee; and reveal thyself unto us, who seek nothing beside thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Johannes Scotus Erigena, 810-890
[489:95:May 5]


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