The emotional challenge of discipline …

Bible Reading: Zephaniah 1 & Luke 19:28-48

Yes, it’s time for a reality check before we start. Were you tempted to skip the Zephaniah reading for today (whoever Zephaniah might be and wherever the book might be located in the Bible) to go directly to all that is familiar with the passage in the gospel of Luke?

I have to admit that until I opened my bible, I couldn’t say for certain that I’d actually read any of Zephaniah. That is until I sneak peaked further into the book and discovered a passage that was very familiar, expressed in a beautiful song that I love based on Zephaniah 3:17.

But to be fair, skipping ahead takes away from how important it is to read through – no SLOG through the confronting words of judgement and discipline rather than naturally try and gravitate to seek out words of encouragement and comfort.

So whether we like it or not, today the opening words of Zephaniah are a reminder that God always has and always WILL continue to … irrespective of what we think … deal with the issue of sin!!

And we should not be surprised, based on what God put in place thousands of years ago as a COVENANT or promise with His people. If we flip back to Deuteronomy 28, it’s very clear that God’s heart of compassion and justice was always very clear.

Obedience to God resulted in blessing, If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you HIGH above ALL the nations on earth. All these blessings WILL come on you and accompany you IF you obey the Lord your God.’ Zephaniah 28:1

Disobedience would in contrast result in curses, or in other words, people would REAP the consequences of THEIR  behaviour; ‘However, if all these curses YOU do not obey the Lord your God and DO NOT carefully follow ALL his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses WILL come on you and overtake you. You WILL be CURSED in the city and CURSED in the COUNTRY.’  Zephaniah 28:15

Of course, UPPER CASE are my personal reflections; the words that jumped out at me with the passages.

The significant correlation for me to the passage in Zephaniah to that in Luke is Jesus’ very EMOTIONAL reaction to the city of Jerusalem on His approach where He WEPT. Had anything really changed for the chosen people of God – the cycle of rejection or ignorance of God’s promises?

‘As he (Jesus) approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’ Luke 19:17-18

There is nothing pleasant in what we read about ‘the day of the Lord’ in Zephaniah 1; the warnings to be aware of discipline and consequences.

‘Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter … a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, and day of darkness and gloom, a day of …because they have sinned against the Lord’ vs 14 – 17

The writer to the Hebrews also spoke very clearly about discipline, around 700 years after the writing of Zephaniah.

Our father’s disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

So honesty check #2. Are we really any different?  More than 2,000 years later, have we really changed?

The Lord’s day is all about God’s power to act simply because of justice; justice because God is a sovereign God who is faithful to His promises. At the same time for us in our knowledge of Christ, the cross and life eternal through faith, it’s also about loving grace.

Christ wept over a people and a nation who knew God’s promises, yet failed to recognise or understand the signs or the period of time they were living in.

So how different is this for you and I today? Are we so distracted by the culture we live in that we fail to see that each day is ‘the day of the Lord’?