GETTING THE MOST FROM GOD'S WORD:

"Do NOT labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting LIFE..." - The Gospel of John 6:27 (NKJV)
A systematic and daily reading of the Word of God is important in maintaining a strong Christian life. Establish a daily quiet time with God and His Word. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand what you read. By following our daily Bible reading schedule through this blog, you will be able to read the Bible through in a year. Please note that you may utilize the ‘BIBLE READER’ app that is installed at the bottom of this webpage to assist you in reading the specified scripture portion for today.

To get the MOST from God's Word, please do the following intentionally:
1. REQUEST God to connect with you as you read the word of God with FOCUS and OPENNESS to see what God wants to speak with you.
2. READ the selected sections of Scripture slowly as you mark the words and phrases that intrigue you, even reading them the second time to get a better understanding.
3. REFLECT on what God is communicating to you; stopping long enough to let the seed of God's Word take root in your heart.
4. RESPOND to the passage speaking directly to God about what is in your heart, and then look out for ways to live out what you find - individually, and to others within your church and elsewhere.

As you read and meditate, ask yourself the following three questions:
a) What is God speaking to me through this passage?
b) Is there a command, a promise or a warning for me?
c) Is there an example for me to follow?

Please POST your comments below if there is a thought or message that the Lord has spoken to you through the passage that you are reading and meditating today. Please make sure that your post is aligned to the scripture passage mentioned at the header. All comments should pertain to the relevant scripture portions only, and should be aimed to glorify God (the true author of 'The Bible') & edify everyone who visits this blog site daily - both young and old. May God bless you abundantly for encouraging others through your comments!

Let's PRAY...
LORD, give me the desire to take a little time out of my busy schedule today as I read and meditate on Your Word. Give me this day MY DAILY BREAD. Speak to me clearly & lead me today as my Good Shepherd. Help me to be a blessing to others who interact with me as I attempt to be a living witness of Your Word today. In Your Name I pray, AMEN.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30 Bible Reading: Zephaniah Chapters 1-3

What is EXPECTED to happen on the ‘DAY of the LORD’? "Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand, for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests." (Zeph. 1:7)

Zephaniah was of royal descent (being the great grandson of King Hezekiah) who prophesied during the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chron. 34-35). Some Bible scholars have determined that though the short book of Zephaniah’s prophecies has only 53 verses in total, however, it contains 18 references to the 'Day of the LORD' (v. 7), which might be the theme of Zephaniah’s prophecy who uses the complete expression the 'Day of the LORD' seven times. God’s judgment is coming on Judah for disobedience to His commandments!

The 'Day of the LORD’ is a special term in the Bible used to refer to a period of time when God directly intervenes in human affairs either in judgment or in blessing. Prophet Zephaniah gives a good description of  the‘Day of the LORD’, and a partial fulfillment of this prophecy occurred about 30 years later in the Babylonian invasion of Judah in 586 B.C. and the destruction of Jerusalem. He pictures the victims of this conquest as the princes (nobles), the king’s sons (royalty), and the wealthy who wear imported garments. However, it is clear that the full implications of this prophecy are going to happen in the future.

The 'Day of the LORD’ can refer to any specific time when the Lord of Hosts is victorious against Babylon through the Medes (Is. 13:1–14:27), against Egypt through Babylon (Ezek. 30:2–4), or against Israel through Assyria (Is. 10:5, 6, 20, 24). This day of the Lord’s vengeance against the wicked is also depicted as the time of Israel’s deliverance (Isa. 34:2–35:10), when the Lord decisively defeats all of Israel’s opposition (2:2, 9; 3:8–20; Joel 3:14–16). It is also the day of final judgment (Amos 5:18–20).

Zephaniah announces that the ‘Day of the LORD’ is at hand, and those who are about to experience His judgment should maintain silence. This prophetic call for silence was for solemn preparation for the horror of divine wrath (see Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13). God is presented as being involved in a religious ritual offering a sacrifice. The sacrifice that He is going to offer is Judah, and his guests are the Chaldeans who will function as Jehovah’s priests in the slaying of the sacrifice. Thus, God’s judgment would begin in Judah because they had turned from the true God to worship idols. Zephaniah sees the ‘Day of the LORD’ from four perspectives as below:
  1. A Day of Sacrifice (1:7–8):  God offers the idolaters of Judah up in judgment, in which the ‘guests’ invited to this sacrificial meal are the Babylonians, who do the honor of ‘eating’ the sacrifice.
  2. A Day of Judgment (1:14–2:1; 3:8): As God’s anger bursts forth to judge and remove all wickedness and evil, the world becomes chaotic and the people cry out in terror (1:2–3, 15–18). Entire nations are utterly consumed (1:2–3; 2:4–15), as is Jerusalem (3:1–7).
  3. A Day of Repentance (2.2-3). A call to repentance calls the hearers to ‘seek the Lord’ and ‘seek righteousness, seek humility’, thereby offering the hope of escaping the terrible ‘Day of the LORD’ (Micah 6.8). In the words of Gary Smith in his book 'The Prophets as Preachers: An Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets': “He offered them a choice: experience the wrath of God on the day of the Lord, or seek God and transform your lives before the day of the Lord. Those who will humble themselves, seek God’s mercy, and pursue righteousness will enjoy the pleasures of the glorious kingdom of God.”
  4. A Day of Hope (3:9–20): First, God had to surface and purify His people with a judgment of fire. After this, He would restore His people to a position of honor higher than before. When the wrath subsides and the noise of judgment is stilled, the Lord will restore a righteous people to the world.
Thus, Zephaniah’s vision of the ‘Day of the LORD’ merges the near and distant aspects common to predictive prophecy. Let’s remember that there is still a future fulfillment when God’s wrath will be poured out on the unbelieving Israel (Isa. 22; Jer. 30:1-17; Joel 1-2; Amos 5) and on the unbelieving world (Ezek. 38–39; Zech. 14). For us, the Apostle Paul tells us that the 'Day of the LORD' will approach and come upon the world silently and unannounced.

"For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thess. 5:2-6)

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