Day 205: Promise to Zion
Isaiah 30:1-33 Judah and Israel were taken to task here for making plans without consulting the Lord and for trusting in foreign alliances instead of God. Forming alliances exhibited a reliance on the power of pagan peoples rather than on God. This lack of confidence would yield catastrophic consequences. Nevertheless, the Lord promised that Judah would survive and that prosperity would be restored, provided they repented. Lastly, Assyria would suffer humiliating defeat.
Ch 30:15 Complete trust in God brings about serenity and strength amid even the most difficult trials. (CCC 227)
Ch 31:1-9 This brief lamentation again called for trust in the Lord alone rather than in human alliances.
Zephaniah 3:1-20 In this condemnation of Jerusalem, the Holy City was characterized as prideful, oppressive, and rebellious. Zephaniah blamed the leaders of the Jews for not enforcing the laws or keeping Israel on God’s path. (CCC 1836)
Ch 3:13 None shall make them afraid: The peace that ultimately comes from Christ will allow those who receive it to live without fear out of total confidence in God’s loving protection.
Ch 3:14-17 The language of the Lord being “in your midst” is reminiscent of the Incarnation as well as of Mary, of whom the angel said, “The Lord is with you.” (CCC 473, 722, 2676)
Ch 3:18-20 As commonly occurs, the final word is one of encouragement rather than a threat of doom.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Ok so Chs 30 and 31 of Isaiah are SO GOOD!
One of the reasons is because it’s a story where we hear Isaiah preaching in a context that we COMPLETELY KNOW
Isaiah is talking about this rebellious people
Isaiah 30:1, “...who carry out a plan, but not mine; and who make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin…”
What do they do?
Isaiah 30:2, “who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!”
When the Assyrians were coming into the Kingdom of Judah (SOUTHERN KINGDOM), the people wanted to go down to Egypt to make an alliance
“Let’s make an alliance because the Assyrians are coming in, and if we can make an alliance with you, then you are going to be the ones who fight with us against the Assyrians.”
Remember, Isaiah is speaking to the king and the people saying, “NO! YOU DON’T NEED TO DO THIS BECAUSE THE LORD GOD WANTS TO FIGHT FOR YOU!! Remember the HISTORY of how God had fought AGAINST THE EGYPTIANS to set you FREE FROM SLAVERY! He is going to do it AGAIN, if you just TRUST HIM!”
Isaiah 30:3, “...the protection of Pharaoh shall turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.”
We are going to talk about SHAME a little bit today
Just a little bit
Not too much
Isaiah 30:5, “everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.”
What is THAT??
The Egyptian officials are at Zoan and the envoys reach Hanes
So who is “THEM”?
Basically, Judah has nothing to offer the Egyptians that they would be willing to ACCEPT in order to form an alliance
They have nothing that brings help or profit, but only SHAME AND DISGRACE
It’s EMBARRASSING how desperate the Kingdom of Judah is
God is saying, “That’s not the point. The point is not that you are embarrassed because you want help.”
Isaiah 30:7, “For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her ‘Rahab who sits still.’”
Basically you can reach out to Rahab, reach out to Egypt, and they are NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING
Here is what’s going on
Isaiah 30:9-10, “For they are a rebellious people, lying sons, sons who will not hear the instructions of the Lord; who say to the seers, ‘See not’; and to the prophets, ‘Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions...let us hear no more of the Holy One of Israel.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT
This is maybe WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR
A lot of times, the voices we put into our ears and put into our minds, that form our hearts are NOT NECESSARILY THE VOICE OF THE LORD
This is Day 205 and we have been LISTENING and READING Scripture because we DO want to say, “God, you have permission. God, I know what I think and I know what the people that I like think. But I want to know what is the truth you want DECLARED, Lord God?”
THAT IS SO IMPORTANT
Because our TEMPTATION is to say to the seers, “See not”
Because our TEMPTATION is to say to the prophets, “Prophesy not”
Because our TEMPTATION is to SKIP OVER Isaiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Joel, and all these other prophets we are going to hear in the future
“No, it’s ok Lord. Actually speak to me.”
Isaiah Ch 30 continues it says GOD’S PROMISE TO ZION
Here is Zion where Jerusalem is built
The Assyrians are going to come against you
Isaiah 30:20, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it…’”
Then you will turn away from your idols
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT
Because the Word of the Lord, and God himself brings JUDGMENT upon Assyria
Remember that King Sennecharib marched against Jerusalem and he was saying that they would completely destroy Jerusalem
He had destroyed EVERYONE ELSE
Why did they think the Lord God is going to protect them?
IN A SINGLE NIGHT THE LORD GOD DEFEATS THE ASSYRIANS
God PROMISES this is what’s going to happen
The ROD OF THE LORD will strike against the Assyrians
God reminds us and them in Isaiah Ch 31 that HELP FROM EGYPT IS FUTILE
Isaiah 31:6-8, “Turn to him from whom you have deeply revolted, O people of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you. And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, NOT OF MAN.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US!!
Yes, this the historical context of Isaiah preaching to the people and to the king
“NO! Not by alliance with Egypt, but by God’s power will he deliver you. You just have to WAIT!”
WE HATE THE FACT THAT WE HAVE TO WAIT!
That is also the word from God through Zephaniah
Remember yesterday that there are FIVE CONDEMNATIONS of the People of Judah in Zephaniah Ch 1
There are also FIVE CONDEMNATIONS of the People of Judah in Zephaniah Ch 3
Zephaniah 3:1, “Woe to her that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city!”
Not only are they in REBELLION
But the OPPRESSING CITY, Jerusalem, not only are they themselves REBELLIOUS
Not only are they themselves DEFILED
They are SPREADING IT AROUND
They are OPPRESSING OTHERS
They are bringing their REBELLION TO OTHERS
Basically, it’s one of those realities we have that sometimes OUR SIN DOESN’T END WITH US
OUR REBELLION DOESN’T END WITH US
How many times have you been in a situation where you said something CRITICAL that you NEVER would have said but YOU HEARD SOMEONE ELSE SAY IT?
How many times have you been in a situation where you DID something that NEVER would have done but you SAW SOMEONE ELSE DO IT?
And you see SOMEONE ELSE doing the same thing BECAUSE THEY SAW YOU DO IT?
Or you see SOMEONE ELSE saying the same thing BECAUSE THEY HEARD YOU SAY IT?
That is this REBELLION
That spirit of CRITICISM
That spirit of REBELLION
Maybe we got it from SOMEONE ELSE and then we PASS IT ON TO OTHERS
This is what the first CONDEMNATION IS
Not only are you in REBELLION, but you have also OPPRESSED OTHERS, you have SOILED OTHERS
Zephaniah 3:2, “She listens to no voice, she accepts no correction.”
They are ignoring the VOICE OF GOD
This can be US as well
The Jewish people were IGNORING the voice of God, ACCEPTING NO CORRECTION
That’s one of the virtues, to be DOCILE
DOCILITY simply means, “I am open to being TAUGHT.”
So ask yourself, “Am I open to being taught?”
Just like in Isaiah today...
Ask yourself, “Do I want to say to the seer, see not?”
Ask yourself, “Do I want to say to the prophet, prophesy not?”
Ask yourself, “Or am I open to the voice?”
Ask yourself, “Or am I open to accepting correction?”
Zephaniah 3:2, “...She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God.”
So they withdrew their TRUST IN GOD
So far, the condemnations are REBELLION and spreading rebellion to others
You IGNORE the voice of the Lord and you don’t accept CORRECTION
You WITHDRAW your trust from the Lord and you don’t even GO NEAR TO HIM
Zephaniah 3:3, “Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning.”
The LEADERS eat all in the night and they don’t leave anything for the next day
They are SELF-INDULGENT to the point where they are not giving ANY FORETHOUGHT TO THE FUTURE
They are living in such a way that they are taking care of themselves RIGHT NOW but they have NO VISION for what will provide people after them or even the people around them ENOUGH
THEY ARE OVER-INDULGENT
THEY HAVE NO LONG-TERM VISION
Zephaniah 3:4, “Her prophets are wanton, faithless men; her priests profane what is sacred, they do violence to the law.”
THIS IS SO CRITICAL FOR ALL OF US!!
Yes, the prophets and the priests are doing evil things
They are wanton and faithless people
They do VIOLENCE to the Word of God
They do VIOLENCE to the Law
They DISTORT the Law
THIS IS CRITICAL!
This could be what WE do
Whether we IGNORE the voice of God
Whether we IGNORE the Word of the Lord
Whether we TWIST the Word of God so that it means WHAT WE WANT IT TO MEAN
So all these FIVE CONDEMNATIONS:
REBELLION and SPREADING REBELLION
IGNORING THE VOICE OF GOD
NOT TRUSTING GOD OR DRAWING NEAR HIM
SELF INDULGENCE WHERE YOU HAVE NO VISION FOR THE FUTURE FOR CARING FOR OTHERS BEYOND YOURSELF
YOU ARE DOING VIOLENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD
Then we have this last word in Zephaniah 3:5, “...but the unjust knows no shame.”
The unjust is also SINNERS
Remember in Isaiah today, it talked about SHAME as well
Here is an interesting thing
SHAME can be a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE (Raise your hand if you ever had a shameful memory from your past pop into your head and it made you feel so bad that you tried to SHOUT IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD….Oh just me? Ok carry on 😉)
ALL OF US have experienced it
We might call it TOXIC SHAME
That sense of where we beat ourselves up and we beat ourselves down WITHOUT MERCY and WITHOUT EVEN TRUTH
There is also a GOOD PART OF SHAME
There is a DOUBLE MEANING OF SHAME
St. John Paul II talks about this when it comes to the Garden of Eden
The man and women were naked YET they knew no SHAME
Then when they FELL IN SIN they actually knew the were naked and they EXPERIENCED SHAME and they covered themselves
St. John Paul II points to that and basically said, “Actually their experience of shame has a dual thing. One is that they EXPERIENCE THE SHAME, ‘I don’t want to be seen.’”
“But secondly, then they COVER THEMSELVES which is to say that they RECOGNIZE that there was something STILL GOOD IN THEM that ought to be covered. That even though they felt SHAME, there was still something GOOD IN THEM that needed to be covered up.”
In that sense, GOSH, we can be oftentimes a SHAMELESS CULTURE
“No it’s nothing to be EMBARRASSED about!”
“No it’s nothing to be ASHAMED of!”
But actually, we OUGHT to be ashamed of our sin in some ways
NOT TOXIC SHAME!
Not where we beat ourselves down to the point where we can’t stand up
We ought to be ashamed TO SOME DEGREE of what is SHAMEFUL in our lives
Remember, the UNJUST knows no SHAME
Remember, the UNJUST is SHAMELESS
But those of us who FEEL SHAME can say, “No, Lord. Correct me. Lord, let your Word open my mind and open my eyes to be able to see here is where I have fallen short.”
Here’s the thing...IT DOESN’T END THERE!
We can get AFRAID OF ACCEPTING SHAME!
We can get AFRAID OF RECOGNIZING THAT THE SHAME THAT OUGHT TO BE THERE is because the world doesn’t have any REMEDY FOR SHAME
So what does God say?
Zephaniah 3:11, “On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me…”
THIS IS SUCH GOOD NEWS FOR EVERY ONE OF US THAT EXPERIENCES SHAME, BOTH THE TOXIC KIND AND THE GOOD KIND!
WHEN GOD ARRIVES
Even if those deeds are OUR FAULT
Even if we have something to be ASHAMED OF
Zephaniah 3:19, “Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their SHAME into PRAISE and renown in all the earth.”
Zephaniah 3:14, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart…(WHY??)...[because] The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.”
THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE PROPHECY OF JESUS CHRIST COMING!!
Jesus Christ who is the KING is going to be COMING IN YOUR MIDST
Emmanuel, GOD WITH US, GOD DWELLING WITH US!
Zephaniah 3:15-16, “...you shall fear evil no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory…”
THIS IS JESUS, RIGHT?
JESUS WHO CONQUERS DEATH THROUGH HIS CROSS
JESUS WHO CONQUERS SIN THROUGH HIS CROSS
JESUS WHO CONQUERS SATAN THROUGH HIS CROSS
JESUS CHRIST IS THE WARRIOR WHO GIVES VICTORY!
Zephaniah 3:17, “...he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
GOD HIMSELF IS THE IMAGE!!
This is why we HAVE TO EMBRACE THAT SHAME at first, in the HEALTHIEST POSSIBLE WAY!
Because He will REJOICE OVER YOU
Because He will turn your SHAME into PRAISE AND GLORY
Because He will turn your SHAME into SOMETHING ELSE
But if we say, “No I don’t have any SHAME,” then He doesn’t have anything to TURN INTO GLORY!
On that day, God Himself will SING OVER YOU IN JOY!
On that day, GOD HIMSELF WILL SING OVER YOU WITH JOY!
RIGHT NOW THAT IS WHAT GOD WANTS TO DO
RIGHT NOW, EVEN, IS A DAY OF REDEMPTION!
If you have been made into God’s SON or DAUGHTER, HE ALREADY REJOICES OVER YOU
HE ALREADY SINGS OVER YOU
HE WANTS TO TURN THE SHAME THAT ALL OF US HAVE INTO SOMETHING INCREDIBLE!
HE WILL TURN YOUR SHAME INTO GLORY AND HIS PRAISE FOREVER AND EVER!
You don’t have to HIDE
You don’t have to RUN AWAY
You don't’ have to DENY IT
You just have to LET HIM HAVE ACCESS TO OUR SHAME SO THAT HE CAN TURN IT INTO SOMETHING INCREDIBLE!
SHAME IS NOT OUR END!
SHAME IS THE TOOL THAT GOD IS USING TO TRANSFORM INTO GLORY!
GOD LOVES YOU!
GOD EXULTS OVER YOU!
GOD HIMSELF SINGS OVER YOU!
THEREFORE, RAISE YOUR HEAD AND DO NOT BE ASHAMED!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you. Thank you for this opportunity to be together. Thank you for your Word that you continue to speak to us. And thank you for the Holy Spirit that helps us to unpack and unlock your Word because of your teaching, your truth, and the way in which you reveal your heart through the Word that you have spoken to us through the prophets. Those here today, Isaiah and Zephaniah. And through even the wisdom of Solomon who assembled these pieces of wisdom so that we can understand and we can live our lives in a way that he failed to live his life. And we can be guided by your wisdom, by your truth, and by your Word. Thank you, Father. Help us to not only hear your Word, but to listen to it. Help us not only to know of it, but to accomplish it in our lives by your Grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”