19 December 2010

Dec 19

Reference links:
Old Testament

Our second to last one day book is Zephaniah. In summary,
Expanding on Amos' theme, the fearful day of Yahweh's coming judgment, Zephaniah predicts universal catastrophe, cursing Gentiles as well as unfaithful Jerusalemites. The assurances of forgiveness and restoration probably belong to a later compiler.
Zephaniah, predicts the universal destruction of life on the day of judgment. He also regards that day as near. Harris also gives some guesses as to the reason for Zephaniah's pessimism:
The Jerusalem whose sins Zephaniah denounces was thus a prereform city [because Josiah had not instituted his reforms yet] that may have been contaminated by the pro-Assyrian idolatries of Manasseh's administration. It seems, then, that Zephaniah was the first prophet to speak out after the long silence that Manasseh and his immediate successor, Amon, had imposed on the proponents of exclusive Yahwism.
The book starts with Zephaniah's lineage. He is the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. Thus, he may have been descended from King Hezekiah. I looked around briefly to see if I could find any confirmation that Hezekiah had a son named Amariah, and I couldn't. On the other hand, I found no listing of his children, so we don't know that he didn't. In any case, that was many generations ago, so at this point he is just a dude. Possibly a dude with slightly higher status, but mostly just a dude.

Beyond that, there's not worth commenting on. The bulk of the book is a presentation of all the different people and nations that will be destroyed. Since there are mentions of remnants and survivors, it seems that the opening lines of complete destruction are hyperbole:
I will sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.
“I will sweep away people and animals alike.
I will sweep away the birds of the sky and the fish in the sea.
I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble,
and I will wipe humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.
However, Zephaniah does make it clear that the destruction will be universal even if it is not complete.

The last chapter certainly does represent a change in tone, although it is not clear whether it's part of the original, a later addition by the same author (perhaps after Josiah's reforms), or an insertion by a different author. I lean toward the second or third just because it is such a turn around in tone. To go from "I will sweep away everything" (even if it is hyperbole) to "Then I will purify the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the Lord together" without some changes in the external world seems like a bit of a jump.

And that's Zephaniah.

New Testament

In yesterday's reading, we read about the blowing of the fifth and sixth trumpets. Before we get around to the blowing of the seventh trumpet, an angel appears with a small scroll. The angel spoke and seven thunders responded. Thankfully, the author is told to keep the words of those thunders secret so we don't have to go through yet another series of revelations... yet. The angel with the scroll praises God and then the author fetches the scroll and eats it. This scroll represents God's charge to the author to give prophecies.

That's all for today. Kind of a slow day compared to what we have been seeing.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs form a continuous though which describes evil people who curse their parents.