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Archive for the ‘Zephaniah’ Category

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At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home. (Zephaniah 3:20)

As the conference drew to a close and we prepared to set off from Kisumu back to our homes Harrison reminded us that our homes, even the very best, are not our real home. At most, in their love and security and in our longing for them, they are a pale reflection of real Home. As we glimpsed that Home and the One who brings us into His Joy, we asked ourselves whether we have lost that eternal focus.

  • In our relationships and self-image, are we clinging to an identity based on ‘where we come from’, our ‘home’ here, or is our identity defined by our final Home?
  • In our faithful Bible teaching, are we preaching the Word in the light of Christ’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:1)?
  • In our servant leadership, are our eyes purely on this world, serving according to its agenda, or are we serving the returning Master, longing for his appearing (Matt. 24:45-51)?

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Thanks to all who have been praying for us on this fellowship. We were reminded today as we worked on Isaiah 6 (cf. Matt. 1; John 12; Acts 28) that we are naturally and deservedly hardened and blind and deaf to the Truth and it is purely God’s sovereign grace that opens our eyes and ears and gives us understanding – so we are in a spiritual battle as we read and teach and discuss these things and your prayers are really welcome… and being answered. Today we were blessed to see some exciting things:

  • From Zephaniah 3:1-13 we saw a God who is not called down by our earnest praying but who comes to dwell with a rebellious people – a people who do not and will not and cannot repent and yet God still gathers a remnant and sovereignly saves and purifies them. (More on Zephaniah here.)
  • In Galatians 2:11-21 we found that gospel doctrine must be accompanied by a gospel culture and saw something of the wonder of union with Christ.
  • All through Acts we found the apostles continually, relentlessly preaching Christ from all the Old Testament Scriptures. (Fidel recommended Edmund Clowney’s Preaching Christ in All of Scripture and you can read chapter 4 of that book here (it’s an exposition of Gen. 22) and a helpful review here.)
  • In 2 Corinthians 6 and Acts 20 we saw the true shape of apostolic ministry and that it has nothing to do with power.
  • Finally Daniel Ledama (PTW/UGBR) mined all sorts of deep and wonderful things about Christ from Genesis 39 – particularly showing how Joseph was both a type of the Saviour to come and at the very same time had the presence of that Saviour with him.

Throughout we were constantly aware of how much we all need to have our eyes opened wider to Christ in the Scriptures and aware of how much blindness and partial sightedness is present within and outside our churches.

And a helpful poster from ACFAR:

DDD - ACFAR

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a-hen-with-chicks-gathered-150x150

Thanking God for another good day in a warm and sticky Kisumu, listening carefully to the Word together. Particular highlights for me:

  • Fidel on Zephaniah 2 – “Perhaps you may be hidden” – as chicks under the hen’s wings – on the day of wrath.
  • A brother pointing out to me the danger of a Judges 2:10 generation emerging – people who have never been taught the gospel because it has been assumed in their churches – who  neither know the LORD nor what he has done for them. What really struck me from this was the parallel between the gospel for the ancient Israelites (what God had done in the Exodus long before any of them were born) and the gospel for us (what God has done in the New Exodus long before any of us were born) – i.e. a historical gospel.
  • Sammy challenging us to listen with trembling (Isa. 66:2) to the Word and let it set the agenda, rather than just using it to serve our agenda – the Word is the Master.
  • Fidel on Spirit-filled preaching – esp. Acts 10:44 – ‘What is the content of our preaching? Is our rhema-ing full of the logos word?’
  • Rogers Atwebembeire (of ACFAR) on Genesis 22 – superb exposition, heart burning as he showed us parallels between Isaac and Christ – the only beloved son, carrying the wood, trusting his father, willing to be sacrificed, delivered on the 3rd day.

“Where is the Lamb?” As I looked at that question my eyes were opened and I suddenly saw all of biblical theology through that verse – Isaiah 53, all the prophets, the whole Old Testament, looking for the Lamb who was to come, until one day John the Baptist says, “Behold, the Lamb”  (Rodgers on Gen. 22:7)

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And a couple of links for hearing the Word in audio:

  • Whole Bible is various English translations – from Theo Vision / Bible.is – here
  • At least portions of Scripture in a fantastic array of different languages including 83 within Kenya alone – assembled by Global Recordings Network – here

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Great question. At the training last week the apprentices and some of the iServe staff were preaching through this sometimes-neglected prophetic book and the question came up, what is it all about, what is the message, the big idea, the big picture, the theme tune? Sometimes it’s called the melodic line.

“It’s one of the most important disciplines of the preacher. It’s alarming if you go to a church where a team of preachers is doing a series on Hebrews, for example, and each preacher has a different idea what the Book is about. It’s absolutely essential to know the way the melodic line, the argument, the theme of the Book, is going.” (Dick Lucas)

 How do you find it? The Simeon Trust is very practical and helpful:

  1. Read and reread – listen long enough to hear the melody
  2. Identify a top and tail (e.g. Romans 1:5 and 15:26)
  3. Find a purpose statement (e.g. Luke 1:1-4, John 20:30-31) or thesis statement
  4. Find repeated words and phrases and ideas (e.g. “joy” and “fellowship” in Philippians)
  5. Follow the Old Testament quotations

So what about Zephaniah?

  1. We certainly had to read, read and read last week and as we spent time in the text we did start to feel a bit more at home in it, start to hear the big themes…
  2. From the beginning to the end it’s what the Lord says (1:1; 3:20), there’s a universal scope (1:2; 3:20), and the good news that though judgment is coming on the whole earth (1:2) there will be a gathered people receiving God’s blessing (3:20).
  3. There are a series of commands: “Be silent”, “Gather”, “Seek the Lord”, “Wait for me”, “Sing aloud, shout, rejoice, exult with all your heart” – which are more passive than active, more about what God is doing than what man is doing. Perhaps the key verse is 2:3: “Seek the Lord… seek righteousness (cf. Phil. 3:8-9)… perhaps you may be hidden (Zephaniah’s name means “Hidden by the Lord”) on the day of the anger of the LORD.”
  4. Repeated words/themes include “the Day”, “I will” (God’s unilateral action) and “Gathering”.
  5. There is strong allusion at the beginning to the Flood of Noah’s day (1:2-3), except this time, as a friend pointed out, even the fish are not spared!

So drawing it all together: The LORD is going to bring a worldwide catastrophic judgment. It is deserved by us all and it will fall on us all (Jew and Gentile, religious, pagan, rich and poor, actively hostile or passively complacent). Repentance and revival will not save you from this judgment (cf. Zeph. 3:8; 2 Kings 23:24-27). The only hope is to be hidden – as chicks hidden under the mother chicken as the forest fire sweeps through, hidden as Noah in the ark as the waters rise, hidden in the LORD himself hanging on a cross taking the wrath and anguish and darkness and gloom.  And all this that ‘they may be with me’ (John 17:24; Zeph. 3:15-17), that the scattered idolaters may be gathered and transformed by sovereign grace (Zeph. 3:9, 20), the delight of their saviour (Zeph. 3:17) for all eternity!

Is that not the most stunning – and surprising – message you’ve ever heard?

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