Pride and humility

As Zephaniah continues with his prophecy, there is big news.

Judah and Jerusalem are to be judged along with the surrounding nations.

Judah prided itself on being God’s chosen nation; Jerusalem, God’s holy city. Surely they would be exempt from God’s judgement and punishment. Surely all this talk of destruction and exile was not going to be for them. They were special. They were chosen. They were God’s pride and joy.

In Zephaniah 2, the prophet makes it clear that this is not the case.

Gather together, gather yourselves together,
you shameful nation.  Zephaniah 2:1

They are shameful. Their deeds have been seen and will be judged.

They will not be spared ‘the Lord’s fierce anger’.

It all comes down to pride and humility.

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the Lord’s anger.  Zephaniah 2:3

Zephaniah is making no promises here. It’s not his place to do so. ‘Perhaps you will be sheltered’ – that’s the best they can hope for.

And his advice?

Seek righteousness, seek humility.

That’s it. Nothing complicated.

Work out what it is to live life as God intended.

Know their place in relation to the one true God.

Live in that knowledge.

The surrounding nations have got that all wrong. And will pay. Their pride will be their downfall.

I have heard the insults of Moab
and the taunts of the Ammonites,
who insulted my people
and made threats against their land.  Zephaniah 2:8

All is not lost for the people of Judah. There will be a remnant. Those who seek righteousness and seek humility and perhaps they will be sheltered.

The Lord their God will care for them;
he will restore their fortunes.  Zephaniah 2:7

God is the God Almighty, the one true God. He will have the victory.

The remnant of my people will plunder them;
the survivors of my nation will inherit their land.
This is what they will get in return for their pride,
for insulting and mocking
the people of the Lord Almighty.  Zephaniah 2:9-10

This is what the surrounding nations will get in return for their pride.

There’s talk of Nineveh here – that ‘city of revelry that lived in safety’. There was a complacency born of pride surrounding the city of Nineveh – that sense of ‘no one can touch us.’ How wrong they were.

She said to herself,
‘I am the one! And there is none besides me.’
What a ruin she has become,
a lair for wild beasts!
All who pass by her scoff
and shake their fists.  Zephaniah 2:15

And then in Zephaniah 3, the prophet turns his attention to Jerusalem. Pride is the issue here too.

She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
she does not draw near to her God.  Zephaniah 3:2

I know best.

I’ll do it my way.

I’ve got this. I am in control.

I don’t need God or anyone else to tell me what to do.

It’s a slippery slope when they lose sight of who God is and how He has commanded them to live.

The prophets become unprincipled, the priests profane the sanctuary and the people remain unrepentant.

And yet God is God. God is unchanging. God is faithful. God carries on being God.

The Lord within her is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
and every new day he does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame.  Zephaniah 3:5

The people have lost touch with their God and have consequently lost touch with their conscience.

And this is the consequence.

The whole world will be consumed
by the fire of my jealous anger.  Zephaniah 3:8

So where does that leave us in this consideration of pride and humility?

Seek righteousness, seek humility.

That’s it. Nothing complicated.

Work out what it is to live life as God intended.

Know our place in relation to the one true God.

Live in that knowledge.

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