A Harvest of Righteousness
by Pastor Scott
Does it ever bother you when there is a problem, and no one does anything about it? I remember when I was young and seeing others bullied at school, it seemed at the time that nothing was being done but I hope that others were watching at the time. When was the last time you said or heard someone say, “Why doesn’t someone do something about that?”
During the time of the prophet Zephaniah, most of the people of Judah are beginning to believe they have a “do nothing” God. During this time there was rampant evil, unrest, and turmoil. People who were sinful seemed to be thriving with no consequences. In verse 12 of chapter one we find out that people who were evil pretty much thought, “the Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.”
But the prophet had a surprise for them, God was about to act and punish not only Judah, but also nearby nations. Zephaniah reminds us in chapter one that God will punish those who abandon Him. In chapter two he reminds us that God will shelter those who do what He commands and in chapter three he states that God will bless those who trust in His name and deal with those who oppress his own.
Though the book of Zephaniah is often considered an end times book, the promise in this message is for all nations at all times. It is a crucial time for us to read books like Zephaniah in the Bible. We need to be constantly reminded that we do not have a “do nothing” God. We have a God who is righteous, he rightly punishes those who deserve it and rejoices with those who do good.
Two sayings of the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu capture what truly causes God to rejoice.
Africans believe in something that is difficult to render in English, we call it “ubutu, botho” or the essence of being human. It speaks of humaneness, gentleness, hospitality, putting yourself out on behalf of others. It embraces compassion along with toughness and recognizes that our humanity is bound together as one.
And in his African language they say, “a person is a person through other persons.” To be human is to learn how to be human through living with others. We are made to be in relationships and are meant to complement each other.
If there is one thing that I have witnessed in the past year with all the separation and quarantining is that things can go horribly wrong when we break that fundamental law of living in relationships.
Zephaniah makes clear to me that if you want to make the world a better place, the person to start with is the one looking back at you in the mirror. We need to trust in the Lord and live as God commands us to do.
James writes to us, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom… But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
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