First Reading: Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13

The Promise of the Poor

When have you felt powerless? How did you address your situation?

2:3 Seek YHWH , all you humble of the land, who have kept his ordinances. Seek righteousness. Seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of YHWH 's anger.

3:12 But I will leave in the midst of you an afflicted and poor people, and they will take refuge in the name of YHWH . 3:13 The remnant of Israel will not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they will feed and lie down, and no one will make them afraid.

World English Bible

The prophet Zephaniah preached during the reign of King Josiah of Judea (640-609 B.C.). Upto that time, Jerusalem and the small nation of Judea became a vassal of the eastern empires or of Egypt. Such powers demanded tribute and cultural influence. In the past, the pliant kings of Jerusalem allowed idols in the city, even partaking in their worship. As the king led, the people followed.

Other abuses crept in. Political and judicial corruption abound. The rich overtaxed the populace (the "poor" of 3:12). National policies were merely meant to line the pockets of the ruling class. In the midst of this idolatry and abuse, YHWH , the nation's God, was only given lip service.

Even though Josiah was a reformer and a faithful king, Zephaniah may have sensed the futility of the situation. He preached the Day of YHWH, the coming divine wrath.

Yet, with divine justice came divine mercy. God would protect those who turned away from pride, greed, and arrogance. He would "hide" the humble and right living from the immanent doom. [2:3] As a sign of his mercy, he would leave a remnant of the poor, the common people who remained faithful. [3:12-13].

We may not be poor or powerless, but we are followers of the poor and the powerless. Our Christian faith was built on lack, because it points to the greater. It points to the power of God.

How do you see God active in your life? How does this outlook humble you?