The call to conversion (Zeph 2:1-2:3)

“Gather together!

Gather!

O shameless nation!

Before you are driven away

Like the drifting chaff,

Before there comes

Upon you

The fierce anger of Yahweh,

Before there comes

Upon you

The day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.

Seek Yahweh!

All you humble

Of the land!

You do his commands.

You seek righteousness.

You seek humility.

Perhaps,

You may be hidden

On the day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.”

Yahweh gave them one last chance to convert to him.  He wanted this shameless country to gather together to seek him.  If they did not, they would be driven away like useless chaff.  If they did not, the anger of Yahweh would come upon them on the day of his wrath.  The humble or the poor of the land should seek Yahweh.  All they had to do was to follow his commandments.  They had to seek righteousness and humility.  Then perhaps, on the day of Yahweh’s wrath, they would be hidden or stored away from his anger.  There still was a chance for these righteous humble poor people.

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Divine appeal (Mic 7:18-7:20)

“Who is a God

Like you?

You pardon iniquity.

You pass over

The transgressions

Of the remnant

Of your possessions.

He does not retain

His anger forever,

Because he delights

In showing clemency.

He will again have compassion

Upon us.

He will tread

Our iniquities

Under foot.

You will cast all our sins

Into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness

To Jacob.

You will show

Unswerving loyalty

To Abraham,

As you have sworn

To our ancestors,

From the days of old.”

This Book of Micah ends with this psalm of praise to Yahweh, while asking for his mercy.  There is no other God like Yahweh, who has pardoned iniquity.  He has let go of the transgressions of his people.  His anger was short lived, because he delighted in granting clemency, since he had compassion for them.  He has stamped on and thrown out all their sins.  He has shown faithfulness and loyalty to Jacob and Abraham, just as he did to all their ancestors in the good old days.  Notice the change from the descriptive “he” to the more intimate “you”.

Israel shall return to life (Hos 14:4-14:6)

“I will heal

Their disloyalty.

I will love them

Freely.

My anger

Has turned

From them.

I will be

Like the dew

To Israel.

He shall blossom

Like the lily.

He shall strike root

Like the forests of Lebanon.

His shoots

Shall spread out.

His beauty shall be

Like the olive tree.

His fragrance shall be

Like Lebanon.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, said that he was going to heal the disloyalty of Israel. He would love them freely, since his anger had turned from them. He was going to be like the morning dew to Israel. He was going to make them blossom again like the lilies. He was going to have them set down strong roots, like the forests of the Lebanon cedar trees. Their shoots would spread out all over the place. Their beauty would be like that of an olive tree. Their fragrance would be like the Lebanon cedar trees.

The destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel (Hos 13:9-13:11)

“I will destroy you!

O Israel!

Who can help you?

Where now is your king?

Can he save you?

Where in all your cities,

Are your rulers?

You said.

‘Give me a king!

Give me rulers!’

I have given you

A king.

In my anger,

I took him away

In my wrath.”

Yahweh was going to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. Who was going to help them? Who could save them? What happened to their rulers? Yahweh gave them a king because they wanted one. Now in his anger and wrath, Yahweh was going to take their king away. This might be a reference to King Hoshea who ruled from 732-724 BCE, when the northern dynasty fell.

The wrath of Yahweh (Ezek 22:31-22:31)

“‘Therefore

I have poured out

My indignation

Upon them.

I have consumed them

With the fire

Of my wrath.

I have returned

Their conduct

Upon their heads.’

Says Yahweh God.”

The result was that Yahweh, their God, poured out his wrath and indignation on their heads.  He consumed them with a fire from his anger.  There was no appeasing Yahweh.

The glittering sword (Ezek 21:15-21:17)

“‘Therefore hearts melt!

Many stumble!

At all their gates,

I have set the point

Of the sword.

Ah!

It is made

For flashing.

It is polished

For slaughter.

Attack to the right!

Engage to the left!

Attack wherever

Your edge is directed!

I too will strike

Hand to hand.

I will satisfy

My fury.’

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, concluded this little hymn to the sword. Hearts would melt. Many would stumble. Everywhere there would be the flashing of swords. Especially at the gates, there would be polished silver swords that led to slaughter and death, all around, to the right and the left, front and back. Swords would be pointed in all directions. Yahweh would also strike where he pleased in order to satisfy his anger.