Scripture Focus: Zephaniah 1.7
7 Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
for the day of the Lord is near.
The Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited.
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Reflection: He Invites Us — Love of Advent
By John Tillman
Zephaniah begins with a shocking image of uncreation. In a mirror image of the creation order, God will wipe away first humans and beasts, then birds of the sky, then fish of the sea.
This unmade world will be scraped clean of humanity’s idols, like a canvas being scraped clean for a new painting. But like many other apocalyptic visions, there is room for poetic exaggeration. Zephaniah’s purpose for his entire book is a call to repentance. Not all humans will be wiped out, otherwise there would be no reason for Zephaniah to call them to repent.
Evil on the earth is very real. No religion deals with it like Christianity does. Most don’t deal with evil at all. Some would prefer God wink at evil and pretend it doesn’t exist. Other philosophies try to explain away evil as if it is just some alternative that is “good” for someone. Moral relativism has overtaken not only the world but many prominent religious figures who have recently embraced “ends justify the means” mentalities.
Christianity condemns all these empty and gutless ways of dealing with evil. Only Jesus faces evil directly and destroys it. All the violence and darkness will be ended. Anyone who clings to that violence, who refuses to abandon that darkness, will be swept away.
In Zephaniah, he remarks, “he has consecrated those he has invited,” and some commenters feel this means that the nations being invited are consecrated to be slaughtered for their rebellion. This may be true in the final great day that Zephaniah is writing of, but on another day, Jesus invited the repentant thief…and on a day after that, he invited me…and he invited you.
The Advent we celebrate in these weeks is the gentle, loving call to be ready. Be ready for his coming. We are invited. Respond.
May we turn to him now in joy.
May we repent of the darkness we cling to.
May we be the light of the world wherever we are and may we be burning, glowing embers of invitation to the world to join us in the light.
For I tell you truly, they can be with us in paradise.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
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Read more about Unto Us, He Comes — Hope of Advent
The movements of the heavens tell a Heavenly story in which Christ comes in at our darkest point to turn the world back to the light.