Zephaniah

The effects of God’s universal judgment (verses 2, 3) upon Judah and Jerusalem are described in detail (verses 4-13). The chapter ends with a terrifying picture of the day of the Lord (verses 14-18).

  1. On whom particularly will God’s judgment fall according to this chapter, and why? Can you think of any modern counterparts to the sinful actions described?
  2. Having considered the reasons for judgment, now ponder the accompaniments of the day of the Lord in verses 14-18. What can we learn from this about God’s view of sin? Cf. Prov. 11:4; Ezek. 7:19.

Notes

  1. Verse 4. To ‘cut off… the names of’ means to ‘obliterate the memory of’.
  2. Verse 5. ‘Molech’: a foreign deity of this or similar name was worshiped in several of the countries surrounding Judah.
  3. Verse 12. ‘Like wine left on its dregs’: cf. Jer. 48:11. This picture, taken from the wine-trade, refers to the sedimentation of wine. The idle, stagnant, muddy-minded men in Jerusalem, who thought that they could settle down in their godless indifference, will be punished.
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Habakkuk 3:1-19

Habakkuk prays that God will show himself once again as long ago (verses 1, 2), and then describes a vision of God coming to deliver his people. Past, present and future are intermingled. God’s self-revelation in the past at Sinai, at the Red Sea, and at the entrance of Canaan are pictured under the image of a thunderstorm rolling up from the south and breaking upon Palestine. The same ‘Holy One’ is at work also in the present, and the tumults of the nations are the tokens that he has come in judgment to work salvation for his people.

  1. Habakkuk considered God’s working in the past with longing and fear (verses 1, 2).
    Do we know such longing? Cf. Pss. 85:6; 143:5, 6; Is. 64:1-3.
    Why was he afraid?
    Cf. Heb. 12:21, 28, 29.
  2. The poetry describes political upheavals. Cf. Is. 29:5-8. Yet the poetry also is full of God’s acts.
    How does this vision teach us to regard the world-happenings of our own day?
    What is God’s purpose through them?
    Cf. Ps. 74:12; Luke 21:25-28.
  3. What two effects did the vision have on Habakkuk? With verse 16, cf. Dan. 10:8; Rev. 1:17.
    With verses 17, 18, cf. Ps. 73:25, 26; Phil. 4:11-13.
    Are we as sensitive as Habakkuk was to the glory and the faithfulness of the God with whom, by grace, we have to do?
  4. What three things did God – trusted and rejoiced in – do for the prophet?
    Cf. Ps. 18:32, 39; Zech. 4:6; Is. 40:31.
    Which of these do you particularly need God to do for you?

Notes

  1. Verse 3. ‘Teman’, ‘Mount Paran’: i.e., the region of Sinai.
  2. Verse 4. Allusions to lightning and thick clouds.
  3. Verse 8. The answer is found in verses 13-15.

Habakkuk 2:6-20

  1. Sum up in one or two words each of the evils against which the five ‘woes’ of these verses are pronounced.
    Are these evils found in the world today?
    What can those who commit them expect?
  2. In contrast to verses 18, 19, ponder the promise of verse 14 and the command of verse 20.
    How were these, a warning to the plunderer, and a comfort to the plundered?
    What response should they inspire in us? Cf. Ps. 73:16-26.

Habakkuk 1:1-2:5

  1. What is the prophet’s first complaint, and what is God’s strange answer to Habakkuk?
    See 1:2-3, 5-11.
  2. What further problem does this raise in the prophet’s mind, and what answer is he given?
    See 1:12-17 and 2:2-5.
  3. What course of action does 2:1 suggest that the Christian should adopt when perplexed at God’s dealings?
    Cf. Ps. 73:16, 17; Mic. 7:7.
    Are you faithful in this way?

Notes

  1. 1:7b. The Chaldeans so-called ‘justice and dignity’ are arbitrary and self-determined.
  2. 2:2. God’s answer is to be written down plainly so that it may be read at a glance.
  3. 2:4, 5. God’s answer is in two parts: (a) The arrogant Chaldean, whose soul is not upright, shall fail and pass away. Cf. Is. 2:12-17. (b) The righteous man will endure. He will live by his faith, a faith inspired by God’s faithfulness, which keeps him steadfast. The profound truth expressed here is seen in its full significance in the gospel of Christ. Cf. Rom. 1:16, 17.

Lamentations 5

  1. How would you infer from this chapter that it was written sometime after Jerusalem had fallen?
    How would you sum up the conditions in the land?
    How does this chapter illustrate what is said in Heb. 12:11?
    Contrast the present disposition of the people with what they formally said (Jer. 5:11, 12; 18:18).
    What did they still lack?
  2. With verse 16, cf. Jer. 13:18, and with verse 21, Jer. 31:18. Consider how much God’s word spoken before through Jeremiah meant to the people at such a time. Cf. John 13:19; 14:29; 16:4.

Note

Verse 9. A refers of the danger of attack from desert robbers when the people ventured out to reap the harvest.

 

Lamentations 4

  1. Make a list of the statements in this chapter that emphasize the extraordinary severity of the divine judgment. Notice how all the classes of the community are affected.
    What is the particular cause assigned here for so great a calamity? Cf. Jer. 23:9-14.
  2. With verse 17, cf. Jer. 2:36, 37; 37:7, 8; and with verse 20, cf. Ps. 146:3, 4; Jer. 17:5, 6.

Note.

Verse 20. A reference to King Zedekiah; cf. Jer. 39:4-7.

 

Lamentations 3

  1. Verses 1-20 the poet, speaking in the name of the community pours out his heart ‘like water before the presence of the Lord’ (2:19). Notice the change from the minor to the major key at verse 21.
    What causes it? Do the Psalmists’ experiences in Ps. 42:1-5 and 73:16,17a provide a clue?
  2. Consider how remarkable is the appearance here, in verses 22-42, of such a noble expression of assurance concerning God’s mercies.
    What aspects of God’s character are most emphasized in these verses, and what should be our attitude of mind and spirit in time of affliction or chastisement?
    Cf. Joel 2:12-14. Why is it both foolish and wrong for a man to complain and murmur in time of chastisement (verses 37-39)? Cf. Jer. 5:19-24; Prov. 19:3.
  3. In verses 43-54 the poet, in the name of the people, again pours out his heart before the Lord and, having done so, is strengthen to pray again, and receives comfort. What is his prayer (verses 55-66)?
    What factors in the Poet’s situation might lead us not to judge this prayer for requital too harshly?

Notes

  1. Verse 20. An alternative reading is, ‘thou wilt surely remember and bow down to me’.
  2. Verse 38. ‘Calamities’: Cf. Amos 3:6; Is. 45:7.
  3. Verse 63. Cf. Job 30:9.