Readings for Sunday, Nov 15th, 2020
The 1st reading is from Zephaniah 1:7-8, 12-18. 2:3, 2:7. I have added verses 1:8, 2:3 and 2:7 because these verses demonstrate that God is merciful to those who worship Him and try to keep his commands. Last week we heard Amos preach that the “day of the Lord was coming” but that it would be “a day of judgment” rather than the expected day of light. Two centuries later, In today’s message, Zephaniah carries the message of Amos one step further, indeed a “day of judgment “ was coming that would punish those who worshiped foreign gods and adopted foreign ways of living but it would also act to purify God’s people, thus bringing hope in the midst of sorrow and pain. Our reading opens with a terrifying statement, God has prepared a sacrifice, the sacrifice being the people of Jerusalem and has invited as guests the enemies of Judah. In verse 1:7 the Hebrew for “slaughter” also means “feast”. In verse1:8 Zephaniah associates the use of foreign attire with pagan practices. Verse 1:14b is so terrible that even battle-hardened fighters will be terrified. Verse 2:3 offers hope that perhaps those who have fulfilled the law will be sheltered. In verse 2:7a the verb is for animals being bedded down but in 2:7b the reference is the Judahites, not their flocks s?
(7) Hush before the Lord!
--For the day of the Lord is near,
For the Lord has readied a slaughter,
has invited His guests.
(8) And on that day there shall be a slaughter for the Lord,
and I will make a reckoning with the nobles
and with the sons of the king
and with all who don
the garb of the foreigner.
(12) And it shall happen at that time—
I will search out Jerusalem with lamps
and make a reckoning with the men
who sit still on their lees
Saying in their hearts,
“The Lord does neither good nor evil”
And their wealth shall become plunder
(13) and their homes a desolation,
and they shall build homes and not dwell in them
and plant vineyards and not drink their wine.
(14)The great day of the lord is near,
near and very swift.
The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter,
on it the warrior shrieks.
(15) A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and discomfort,
a day of devastation and desolation
a day of darkness and deep dusk,
a day of cloud and fog.
(16) a day of ram’s horn and trumpet blast
against the fortress towns
and against the lofty corner-towers.
(17) And I will bring humankind into straits,
and they shall walk about like the blind,
for they have offended against the Lord.
And their blood shall be spilled like dust
And their flesh like turds.
(18)Neither their silver nor their gold
shall avail to save them.
On the day of the wrath of the Lord
All the land shall be consumed in His zealous fire,
For a ghastly end
shall He make of all who dwell in the Land.
(2:3 Seek the Lord,
all you humble of the land
who have fulfilled His law.
Seek justice, seek to be humble.
Perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s fury.
(2:7) And it shall become a region
For the remnant of the house of Judah.
On these they shall graze their flocks,
In the houses of Ashkelon at evening they shall bed down.
For the Lord their God shall single them out
and restore their fortunes.
The 2nd reading is from 1Thessalonians 5:1-11. Paul continues the discussion of the “day of the Lord” in the terms used by Amos, i.e. the “day of Judgment”. However, there is an important difference. Paul is writing to Christians who were not pagans or living like pagans but already had instruction on the “day of the Lord from Paul. However, they were, as we all are, sinners. Paul exhorts his readers to live their lives as faith in God demands and in expectation that the “day of judgment” could come immediately or at any unknown time in the future. Paul, in two analogies, calls all Christians, then and now, to live their lives in constant readiness for the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Some say that the analogy of “the thief in the night” applies to non-Christians who are people of darkness whereas Christians are people of the light. The analogy of a woman in labor certainly applies to all. Once genuine labor begins, there is no avoiding its conclusion. There will be no second chance, no opportunity for additional preparation before meeting the Lord. So be continually prepared.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.