Invitation to Re-creation

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. 

Reflection: Invitation to Re-creation
By John Tillman

Zephaniah’s shocking beginning rewinds the order of creation. Zephaniah sees God turning back to Genesis page 1. As pages turn, humans and beasts, then birds of the sky, then fish of the sea, are wiped away like chalk from a blackboard. 

Why does God take this drastic step? Is all humanity doomed? Is there any hope in this darkness?

When predicting the outcome of an NBA finals match, a sports commentator might say, “This team will wipe the floor with their opponents.” In case you don’t know basketball, no humans are ever used as mops. The prognostication implies one opponent will dominate the other in a decisive victory. Like sports commentary, apocalyptic visions and prophecies are often poetically exaggerative.

Zephaniah is predicting that God will dominate and destroy every evil thing in creation and win a decisive victory over sinful kings, warriors, leaders, economies, and all wicked powers. Not one evil thing or human will escape, and their defeat will be humiliating and overwhelming. He will wipe the floor with them.

Zephaniah makes the purpose of this destruction clear. The world is unmade to wipe the floor with humanity’s idols. This newly cleaned space will be inhabited by those whom God saves by his mercy. (Zephaniah 3.9) He will wash the feet of those who enter.

No religion deals with evil as directly as Christianity does. Some prefer God wink at evil and pretend it doesn’t exist. Other philosophies excuse evil as “alternative choices” that are “good” for those who choose them. Even prominent leaders who claim to follow Christ have embraced this kind of moral relativism with “ends justify the means” mentalities.

These tactics of dealing with evil are as gutless as they are meaningless. In Jesus, God takes on evil directly, at cost to himself, on behalf of the victims. He enters the ring, becoming the ultimate victim of evil to win the ultimate victory over evil. Those who cling to evil will be swept away in the battle. Those who cling to Christ will be credited with a victory only he can win.

As Zephaniah says, “he has consecrated those he has invited.” This is the invitation Jesus extended to the rebel on the cross. This same invitation was extended to me and to you and to all humanity. Have you accepted this invitation? Have you extended it to others?

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life. — Ephesians 2.8-10

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 1 (Listen 3:09)
Luke 5 (Listen 5:04)

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He Invites Us — Love of Advent

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. 

Luke 23.42-43
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

Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 1 (Listen – 3:09)
Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)

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