828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christian Formation for Sunday Dec. 16 - Zephaniah 3:14-20; A Song of Joy

Dec 16, 2012, Advent 3
Zephaniah 3:14-20
A Song of Joy
Background: The book of Zephaniah is one of the Book of the Twelve, the Minor Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. This book is a collection of prophetic oracles in the opening chapters and a reflection on those oracles in Chapter 3. The oracles spell out the doom set for Israel due to its apostasy and wanton sinfulness. Zephaniah most likely came at the end of the 7th century BCE (640-609) and is a response to political reform and the implication of the reform.
Theme: This section begins by describing how Israel will not be dealt with harshly if they return to the Lord. The passage ends with God’s words of restoration and God’s renewed promise to the Israelites in response to their renewed faithfulness to the Covenant.
Questions to Ponder
* Please skim all of Zephaniah for context.
* What is the social, political, and religious setting for the book of Zephaniah?
* How might Josiah’s rule over Israel be categorized, was he good or bad in trying to uphold the Covenant with God?
* What do you think the phrase “the Day of the Lord” was supposed to signify? How do you understand the implications of that day as it applied to the Jews in the Old Testament?
* Do you think the Jews looked forward to “the Day of the Lord” or not? Why or why not?
* In the opening portion of this section, what do you think the prophet is trying to say to Israel with regard to their relationship with God? How do you think Israel would be able to receive the judgment (for good or for ill) that is imputed in verse 14ff?
* Do you think that Israel is the only one rejoicing at the pronouncement of God in verses 14-17?
* Why do you think the text shifts from the third person to the first person in verse 18? What might that signify to the reader?
* Do you think the restoration imputed in this passage was meant to tell Israel that all would be restored to God or simply a portion of the Israelites? If not all, who would be chosen to remain in God’s favor?
* Why do you think God is portrayed as a mighty warrior in this passage? Why might Israel be referred to in feminine form?
* Who might be the lame and the outcast that God will return as described in verse 19? What might be significant about restoring the lame and the outcast in the Jewish tradition – why would that be a phrase of hope for them?
* What do you think Zephaniah was trying to convey to the people in Israel by this passage? What might the message of hope be in his pronouncement?
* How might a Christian capitalize on this passage as a statement of hope and redemption through the person of Christ?
* What is the application or challenge of this passage for us in our present day?

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