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Assurances and Joy for the Faithful

Teaching Tips

June 19, 2016

Bible Study Guide 3

Words You Should Know

A. Suppliants (Zephaniah 3:10) atar’ (Heb.)—Worshipers; incense.

B. Haughty (v. 11) gabah (Heb.)—To be high, lofty, tall, proud.

Teacher Preparation

Unifying Principle—The Joy of Restoration. People will sometimes repent of their harmful, destructive ways and seek to restore what has been ruined. How can people turn from destruction to reconstruction? Zephaniah recounts that God’s intervention was required for the people to stop their rebellion and return to Him with singing.

A. Read the Bible Background and Devotional Readings.

B. Complete Lesson 3 in the Precepts For Living® Personal Study Guide.

C. Read the Focal Verses in several translations.

O—Open the Lesson A. Open with prayer.

B. Have students read the Aim for Change in unison.

C. Ask for a volunteer to read the In Focus story.

D. Discuss the ways that the Lord preserves and blesses His people.

P—Present the Scriptures A. Ask for volunteers to read the Focal Verses and The People, Places, and Times. Discuss.

B. Read and discuss the Background section.

C. Encourage students to praise God for how He has preserved them and thank Him for His unending faithfulness.

E—Explore the Meaning A. Review and discuss the Search the Scriptures and Discuss the Meaning questions and the Lesson in Our Society section.

B. Ask students to share the most significant point they learned in the lesson and how to use that point this week.

N—Next Steps for Application A. Complete the Follow the Spirit and Remember Your Thoughts sections.

B. Remind students to read the Daily Bible Readings in preparation for next week’s lesson.

C. Close in prayer, thanking God for His faithfulness.

Worship Guide For the Superintendent or Teacher Theme: Assurances and Joy for the Faithful Song: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Devotional Reading: Hebrews 11:29–39 Assurances and Joy for the Faithful Bible Background • ZEPHANIAH 3:9–14, 20 Printed Text • ZEPHANIAH 3:9–14, 20 | Devotional Reading • HEBREWS 11:29–39 Aim for Change By the end of the lesson, we will: TELL of God’s proclamation through Zephaniah that He would bring the people to obedience; BE ASSURED God will help us through our times of trouble and disobedience; and PRAY for one another and ourselves for God’s presence and involvement in our lives.

In Focus Jason could hardly believe it. He was filled with gratitude as he stood in an auditorium waiting to be awarded his bachelor’s degree.

Seven years earlier, Jason’s life looked very different. He had been drinking since he was thirteen. By the time he was seventeen, he was an alcoholic and had started abusing drugs. Jason dropped out of high school as a senior and lived as a vagrant.

Jason occasionally went to a local church that served hot meals. One Saturday, he ran into Kayla, a girl who used to be in his class. They caught up for a while.

“Would you like to come to a meeting tonight?” she asked.

“I guess so,” Jason said. Kayla was the prettiest girl in the school, and if she invited him anywhere, he wanted to go.

That night Jason attended a youth group meeting where he heard the Gospel. God began to work in Jason’s life and set him free from drug and alcohol addiction. Jason was able to get his GED and then went to Bible college.

As he stood waiting to walk across the stage, Jason thought about his life. He had been destroying himself and the Lord saved him. God had preserved him through that ordeal and brought him success.

The Lord preserves and restores those that seek Him and worship Him alone. In what ways has God prompted you to seek Him?

Keep in Mind “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zephaniah 3:14).

Focal Verses KJV Zephaniah 3:9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth:

for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

NLT Zephaniah 3:9 “Then I will purify the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the LORD together.

10 My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia will come to present their offerings.

11 On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me. I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you. There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain.

12 Those who are left will be the lowly and humble, for it is they who trust in the name of the LORD.

13 The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will never tell lies or deceive one another. They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid.” 14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!

20 “On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!” The People, Places, and Times Ethiopia. In the time of Zephaniah, the land around the southern parts of the Nile was called Ethiopia or the land of Cush. This land is named after the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah. It is not to be confused with modern-day Ethiopia, but more accurately located in the region of the modern-day nation of Sudan. The term Ethiopia is also used in the Bible to refer to the whole African continent. In ancient times, Ethiopia was often connected with Egypt and gave birth to many powerful rulers such as Tirhakah and Queen Candace (2 Kings 19:9; Acts 8:27).

The Remnant. The remnant is the group of people that survive the judgment of the Lord. When Israel and Judah escaped capture, the survivors were called a remnant. The word also refers to other groups throughout the Old Testament: a remnant of Israel entered the Promised Land; those who remain faithful when others fall away from the faith can also be called a remnant. The remnant survives divine judgment and remains faithful as God destroys those who are unfaithful to Him. The remnant is therefore a purified group, and described in Zephaniah 3:9– 13.


The book of Zephaniah was written in the seventh century B.C. during the reign of Josiah. When Josiah ascended to the throne, Judah was filled with idol worship. Their rituals were so deeply ingrained that some practices still remained after Josiah had instituted religious reform. The Lord promised to bring judgment that would destroy everything in the land of Judah. However, even amid the judgment, the Lord promised that He would preserve a remnant that would worship Him.


1. Purification of the Remnant (Zephaniah 3:9–10)

2. Blessings for Jerusalem (vv. 11–13)

3. Rejoicing for the Remnant (v. 14)

4. Restoration of the Remnant (v. 20) In Depth

1. Purification of the Remnant (Zephaniah 3:9–10) After the Babylonian captivity, the language of Judah had been mingled with that of pagans ( Nehemiah 13:24).

The Lord said He would make for Himself a people of “pure speech.” Once their speech was purified, they would call on the name of the Lord (v. 9). Purified speech is tied to separation from temptation and evil. Not only is it a sign of loyalty the Lord, but also a behavior that demonstrates commitment to God. The people whom the Lord purifies will “shall not…speak lies” (v. 13) and do no injustice. This people will show their devotion to God by following in His ways. Even now, our speech also demonstrates our loyalty to God. Romans 10:10 says “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The purification would not be limited to the faithful in Jerusalem. The Lord would gather those who have been scattered and number them among the faithful.

2. Blessings for Jerusalem (vv. 11–13) When the Lord restores Judah, He will remove their shame. As children who have been punished are often ashamed, those disciplined by the Lord often feel shame for their actions. However, the Lord promises to cleanse Judah from guilt and shame. Likewise, the Lord removes any sense of condemnation from those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).

The Lord would purify for Himself a people of humility and faith. Their faith will not be in themselves, but the Lord alone. They will have pure speech, pure hearts, and pure actions (v. 13). The Lord Himself will be their protection, and they will have no reason to fear as they go about their daily activities (3:13).

3. Rejoicing for the Remnant (v. 14) The messages in this section of the prophecy are very different from those of punishment and destruction. The Lord promises that Judah will once again rejoice. They will sing and shout aloud (v. 14). The fear of punishment will be removed and the Lord Himself will live among them (v. 15). Judah will be fully forgiven and would have the very presence of God and once again would be filled with rejoicing.

Zephaniah’s prophecy would be fulfilled after seventy years of Babylonian captivity. However, the prophecy also refers to the Second Coming of Christ, when there will be no more sorrow and the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord (Revelation 21:4; Habakkuk 2:14). Like the people of Judah, we can rejoice because we have been forgiven of our sins. We have the Spirit of God living within us. Ultimately, Jesus will return and we will be with Him forever. We will rejoice in the glory of the Lord.

The terms of endearment God uses for His people are significant for believers in Christ. He calls them the “daughter of Zion,” which is an affectionate name for the faithful and a reference to God’s holy mountain. He calls them “Israel,” the name for God’s chosen people, not just the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. Finally, the Lord calls His people the “daughter of Jerusalem.” The earthly city of Jerusalem is a foreshadowing of the new Jerusalem, where all those who profess faith in Christ will live with Him forever.

4. Restoration of the Remnant (v. 20) The Lord promises to gather the faithful together and bring them honor and blessing. He promises them a homeland, an esteemed name among the nations, and the restoration of their fortunes. He fulfilled these promises when Judah returned from bondage.

However, a gathering and restoration of Israel will come when its name will be a praise to the whole world (v. 20).

When Jesus returns, He will gather His people, and Israel will shine. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s promises and a time of great rejoicing, of total redemption, free from all suffering.

Search the Scriptures

1. Why does the Lord purify the language of His people (Zephaniah 3:9)?

2. What restoration does the Lord have planned for His people (v. 20)?

Discuss the Meaning

1. The Lord leads and transforms His people. Through this judgment, He was transforming His people from rebellion to pure speech and actions. His heart is always to bring us closer to Himself. Can you see the Lord’s transforming work in your life?

2. The Lord preserves the remnant in the time of judgment, then removes all their shame. Jesus Himself took the punishment for our sins and freed us from shame and condemnation. Because of this, we can come to God in prayer and know that we will be heard (1 John 5:14–15). How can we devote ourselves to prayer and thanksgiving in light of our freedom in Christ?

Lesson in Our Society The Lord promises to restore the nation of Judah. Even His judgment is executed with transformation in view. He does this to purify a people for Himself.

Not only will He preserve a remnant from Judah, He will unite the faithful who have been scattered abroad. As Christians in the United States, we hear few reports about the church worldwide. We hear little of the Christians who are persecuted for their faith and meet in secret. When Jesus returns, He will gather all His people from around the world and we will praise Him forever.

Make It Happen

Similar to the people of Zephaniah’s day, many in our society don’t follow the Lord wholeheartedly. They value some of the Lord’s instructions but ignore others. Some mix other elements into their Christian faith. We must follow the Lord and put our faith in Him alone. The Lord still seeks to purify a people wholly devoted to Him. Jesus gave us the greatest commandment: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37–38). Let this be the focus of our lives.

As in centuries past, the Lord will gather His people from all corners of the world. Many are unaware of their Christian brothers and sisters laboring, teaching, and suffering for the name of Christ. Make it a point to pray for the persecuted church around the world.

Follow the Spirit What God wants me to do.

Remember Your Thoughts Special insights I have learned.

More Light on the Text Zephaniah 3:9–14, 20 9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.

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