In the beginning of chapter two the prophet seriously pleads with his people to come together. He uses the word BEFORE three times in verse 2 as he pleads with them about the urgency of the matter. He emphasizes that the day of the Lord is right before them, so he urges the people to turn to the Lord, because otherwise they would have to suffer the full consequences of the His anger.
Then three times the prophet bids the people to SEEK the Lord. Seek the Lord, you meek of the earth, seek righteousness, and seek humility. This is not easy when the word of the Lord is against you. We may think of situations in our own lives when somebody was really upset with us and we had to seek him or her in order to solve the problem. Therefore seeking the Lord, when His word is against us, requires a deep faith and a deep knowledge of a loving God who would not distance Himself from us, if we honestly did seek Him. On our part it asks us to humble ourselves before God. This may remind us of Jacob who would cling to God until the Lord would finally bless him.
It is interesting to note that linked with these strong words of the prophet there are signs of hope. In Verse 7 and 9 the prophet introduces a remnant that will own the land and will experience peace as God cares for them. The characteristic of this remmant is their humility and their commitment to obedience. This humility stands in opposition to the arrogance of the nations that were criticized before. Humility is a characteristic of the Bible's greatest figures. We may think of Moses, whom the Bible called the most humble man living on earth (Num. 12:3).
Humility according to the Bible is one of the key qualifications for leadership. And God knows there is a chance for His people and that it will happen if they are willing to humble themselves before God and each other. By connecting humility with righteousness, Zephaniah makes it clear that true humility is always linked to social justice.
The healing of churches, societies and communities comes through humbling ourselves before God (2 Chron. 7:14) and one another. Therefore let us seek the Lord in humility and in righteousness, perhaps we may be sheltered when the Lord comes.
Norbert Zens, Treasurer