The humble poor of Israel (Zeph 3:11-3:13)

“On that day,

You shall not

Be put to shame,

Because of the deeds

By which you have rebelled

Against me.

Then I will remove

From your midst

Your proudly exultant ones.

You shall no longer

Be haughty

On my holy mountain.

I will leave

In the midst of you

A humble people,

A lowly people.

They shall seek refuge

In the name of Yahweh.

The remnant of Israel

Shall do no wrong.

They shall utter no lies.

A deceitful tongue

Shall not be found

In their mouth.

They shall pasture.

They shall lie down.

No one shall make them

Afraid.”

Yahweh, via Zephaniah, said that the Israelites would not be put to shame.  The reason was fairly simple.  Yahweh was going to remove all those rebellious ones that proudly exulted themselves.  Thus, there would be no more haughty ones in their midst.  Instead, all the people left would be humble and lowly people, who took refuge in Yahweh.  These were the remnant of Israel, who would not do anything wrong or utter any lies with a deceitful tongue.  They would be able to lie down in their pastures, since no one was going to make them afraid.

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The curse on Jerusalem (Zeph 3:1-3:2)

“Woe to the soiled city!

Woe to the defiled city!

Woe to the rebellious city!

Woe to the oppressing city!

She has listened to no voice.

She has accepted no correction.

She has not trusted

In Yahweh.

She has not drawn near

To her God.”

Jerusalem, the city itself, was to be cursed because it was a soiled, defiled, rebellious, and oppressing city.  Jerusalem would not listen to any voice or accept any correction.  She had not trusted in Yahweh, nor drawn near to her God.  Jerusalem was in bad shape.

The written scroll (Ezek 2:8-2:10)

“‘But you!

Son of man!

Hear

What I say to you!

Do not be rebellious

Like that rebellious house!

Open your mouth!

Eat what I give you!’

When I looked,

A hand

Was stretched out

To me.

A written scroll

Was in it.

He spread it

Before me.

It had writing

On the front

As well as on the back.

Written on it

Were words

Of lamentation,

Of mourning,

Of woe.”

The voice of Yahweh continued to speak to Ezekiel as the son of man. He was to listen to what Yahweh had to say to him. He was not to be rebellious like the rebellious house of Israel. He was to open his mouth and eat what Yahweh was going to give to him. Then when Ezekiel looked up, he saw a hand stretched out to him with a written scroll in it. This hand spread the scroll out before him. Ezekiel saw that there was writing on the front and the back of this scroll. Ezekiel even read it. He saw that it had words of lamentation, of mourning, and of woe.

Yahweh’s rejection (Jer 6:27-6:30)

“I have made you a tester.

You are a refiner among my people.

Thus you may know their ways.

You may test their ways.

They are all stubbornly rebellious.

They go about with slanders.

They are bronze.

They are iron.

All of them act corruptly.

The bellows blow fiercely.

The lead is consumed by the fire.

In vain,

The refining goes on.

The wicked are not removed.

They are called

‘Rejected silver.’

Yahweh has rejected them.”

Jeremiah was to be the tester for Yahweh. He was going to test the faithfulness of the people. Thus there is a comparison with testing metals. Jeremiah found that they were all rebellious corrupt slanderous people. He was going to test them as if they were iron or bronze. The lead was consumed in the fire but no precious metals were to be found. The wicked were not removed, so that they came up as rejected silver. Thus Yahweh has rejected these wicked people.

The suffering servant of Yahweh (Isa 50:5-50:6)

“I was not rebellious.

I did not turn backward.

I gave my back

To those who struck me.

I gave my cheeks

To those who pulled out my beard.

I hid not hide my face

From insult.

I did not hide my face

From spitting.”

Now Second Isaiah has this teaching servant become a suffering servant of Yahweh. He had not been rebellious nor turned his back on Yahweh. If anyone struck him, he turned his back to them. If anyone pulled on his beard, he did not turn away since he gave up his cheeks. If anyone insulted him by spitting on him, he did not turn his face to cover it. This suffering servant was very passive in the face of an attack.

Sinners in revolt in the wilderness (Ps 106:13-106:18)

“However they soon forgot his works.

They did not wait for his counsel.

But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness.

They put God to the test in the desert.

He gave them what they asked.

But he sent a wasting disease among them.

They were jealous of Moses in the camp.

They were jealous of Aaron,

The holy one of Yahweh.

The earth opened.

It swallowed up Dathan.

It covered the faction of Abiram.

Fire also broke out in their company.

The flame burned up the wicked.”

This psalmist points out that they soon forgot about Yahweh’s works in Egypt and the Red Sea. They did not wait for his counsel. Instead they had a wanton carving while in the wilderness. They put God to the test. Nevertheless, he gave them what they asked for, food and drink. However, after the revolt against Moses and Aaron, he also sent a disease among them. This story and the one about Dathan and Abiram can be found in Numbers, chapter 16. They were jealous of Moses and Aaron who believed that they were becoming holier than the others. They had a test with censors that favored Moses and Aaron. The punishment for the 250 rebellious men was death. The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan. Then a fire burned the people with Abiram. This ended this unhappy tale of the revolt in the desert.

Introduction of the law (Ps 78:5-78:8)

“Yahweh established a decree in Jacob.

He appointed a law in Israel.

He commanded our ancestors

To teach their children.

Thus the next generation might know them,

The children yet unborn.

Thus they might rise up.

They then could tell them to their children.

Therefore they should set their hope in God.

They should not forget the works of God.

They should keep his commandments.

They should not be like their ancestors.

They were a stubborn and rebellious generation.

They were a generation

Whose heart was not steadfast.

They were a generation

Whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

In recalling the introduction of the law to Jacob or Israel, Asaph, the psalmist, reminded his audience that their ancestors were not that faithful to the law. There are no specific incidents cited. What was indicated clearly was that they were supposed to teach the law to their children just as their ancestors had done for them. This may be a reference to the “shema” love of God law in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. There is no direct reference to Moses and the 10 Commandments. In one sense, this may be an indication of a non-written oral law that was passed on by word of mouth in an oral tradition. They should set their hope in God. They should remember his great works. In a twist of fate, he reminds them not to be like their ancestors, who were stubborn and rebellious. They did not have steadfast love of God, nor was their spirit faithful to God. This paints a bleak picture of their ancestors. The works of Exodus and Deuteronomy show the so-called warts of their ancestors.