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Zephaniah, Prophet to Judah | Zephaniah 1–3

OLD TO NEW

The writings of the prophets gave warnings and pronounced judgment on a sinful people, but they also gave messages of hope for a new beginning. This was a ray of light during a dark time for Israel; something they could look forward to happening in the future. As believers in Jesus Christ, we also look forward to a new beginning when Jesus returns to earth as promised.

Although their restoration was a future event, Israel always had the opportunity to make things new in their current situation. They were encouraged by the prophets to repent and turn to God. If they did this, God would forgive them and purify their hearts; God would make them new. They would no longer follow the old ways of worshipping false gods. They would be renewed.

We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The return of Christ will be a wonderful time for believers, but we do not have to wait until that time to be made new. When we accept Christ, He enters our lives and makes us new.

Review: Last week we learned about the boy king Josiah. He became king when he was only eight years old, but right from the beginning he did what was right in God’s eyes. He tore down all the altars and false idols, and he restored the temple of God. While the temple was being restored, the Book of the Law was found. Josiah had it read to the entire nation of Judah, and he renewed the covenant of God.

What event did Josiah celebrate which reminded the people of God’s deliverance? The Passover.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.13.27 AMScripture Reading:  Zephaniah 1:1–2:3; 3:1–20


 

TALK

Zephaniah was sent to prophesy against Judah. He prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, and his message was possibly the reason behind Josiah’s reforms.

  1. What are the names of the false gods Judah is guilty of worshipping? (1:4–5) Baal and Molech. The nations around Judah were known for worshipping numerous false gods. Why do you think God specifically men- tioned these two gods in this passage? Read Leviticus 18:21 to see what followers of these gods practiced. Sacrifice of children. Although Judah was told not to worship any false gods, the worship of these gods was blatant rebellion against God as they were specifically told not to worship Baal or Molech.
  2. Webster’s dictionary defines rebellion as “opposition to one in authority or dominance.” To be in opposition
    to someone means that you want the exact opposite of what the other person wants. Judah was in direct opposition to God, yet they thought that God would do nothing, almost as if God did not see what they were doing (1:12). How often do our actions reflect those of Judah? Every time we sin we are rebelling against God, going in direct opposition to Him, acting as if God does not see what we are doing. Read Hebrews 4:13. What does the last line say about our actions? We must give an account. Just as Judah was to be judged, we too will be judged for our actions.
  3. The final verses of chapter 1 describe the Day of the Lord as one of great judgment. What does Zephaniah plead with the people to do in Zephaniah 2:1–3? Seek the Lord; humble themselves; obey His commands; seek righteousness and humility.
  4. Zephaniah dedicates the entire third chapter to a message of hope for Judah’s future restoration. What hope does verse 17 give to the people? God is with them; He takes great delight in them; they will have His love and He will rejoice with them.
  5. Read the following verses and rejoice in God’s promises to us as recited in our Memory Verse: God is with us: Isaiah 41:10 God takes pleasure in us: Psalm 149:4
    God loves us: 1 John 4:10 God rejoices over us: Luke 15:7,10

 

PRAY

Using the Memory Verse as well as the verses in the Talk section, question #5, use your time to

  • Praise God for being a promise keeper.
  • Claim the promises that God has made to us.
  • Ask God to help you keep away from worshipping false idols.

Memory Verse:

Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Use the following motions to teach this unit’s memory verse, or make up your own motions:

The Lord your God (point both hands to heaven)
Is with you (draw arms in to a hug)
He is mighty to save (raise both arms in strength)
He will take great delight in you (use fingers to draw a smile on your face) He will quiet you (use finger over mouth)

With His love (cross arms over heart)
He will rejoice over you with singing (jump up and down in celebration)


DO

Supplies: Coffee filter; red food coloring; rubber gloves (optional)
Take a white coffee filter and hold it in your hand. Tell the kids that the filter represents them. Say, “At the beginning of life, children commit no knowledgeable sins, but we all have sin, even kids.”

Take a pencil and write on the coffee filter the name of common sins. Let the kids give suggestions like lying or stealing.

Next, use the red food coloring and explain that this item represents the blood of Jesus. When God forgives us, He uses the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. Squirt the coffee filter lightly with the food coloring. Continue to squirt until the red color spreads around the filter covering all the penciled letters.

The prophets brought God’s message of judgment on His people, but they also ended their messages with words of hope. God would always forgive His people if they repented, and He would always restore them back to Him. Since the beginning of time, God has had a plan for our salvation. He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus shed His blood, and when we ask God to forgive us the blood of Jesus covers our sin. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Lesson: May 24th