August 19, 2018 – Zephaniah 2
Lesson Date: August 19, 2018
Focal Scripture Passage: Zephaniah 2:1-15
AIM: To lead students to discover that in the face of coming judgment the Lord urged His people to seek Him, and to encourage the students to humbly seek the Lord.
Before class: Read the notes on Zephaniah 2 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Warnings” on the marker board or chalkboard. Have enough copies of the “Seek the Lord” handout for your anticipated attendance.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Warnings” written on the board. Tell them we receive many types of warnings. Ask them to name some warnings we might receive. They could name weather warnings, warning labels on medicines, or traffic warnings.
Ask: “Do you heed all the warnings you receive?” (probably not). Ask: “When you see a traffic sign that warns you to slow down to 25 miles per hour for a sharp turn, do you actually slow down that much?” (probably not). Ask: “When you take a medication that warns you not to drive or operate machinery until you know how your body will react to it, do you actually stay home all day and avoid driving?” (probably not). Ask: “When you receive a warning that a heavy thunderstorm is approaching, do you actually seek shelter right away?” (probably not).
Tell the students there are some warnings we heed immediately. For example, if you are warned that an active shooter is loose in your school or office, you will take immediate action to flee or find a place of safety.
Ask: “What’s the difference? Why do we immediately heed some warnings, but often ignore others?” (the seriousness of the warning and our past experience with such situations).
Hold up your Bible. Tell the students there are numerous warnings found in the Bible. Ask: “Do most people heed God’s warnings? Why or why not?” (no, because they don’t take God as seriously as they should).
Tell the students today’s lesson contains some warnings and some very important instructions we should follow in the face of those warnings.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Zephaniah.
- Direct their attention to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal Remind them that throughout this quarter we have seen that sin brings God’s judgment, but genuine repentance brings renewal and blessings.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God’s judgment of sin is sure and certain, so we should confess and repent of all known sin).
- Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (1 Peter 4:17).
- God’s Warning of Judgment Upon the Nations.
- Remind the students that in chapter 1 the Lord warned the sinful people of Judah that judgment was coming. He warned the idol worshipers, greedy liars, and those who didn’t care about Him. He warned that the Day of the Lord was coming for them.
- In chapter 2 God warned several other nations of coming judgment.
- Read Zephaniah 2:4-7.
- Using the map, explain that Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron were the major cities of the Philistines, who lived near Judah along the Mediterranean Sea coast. This area is now occupied by the Gaza strip.
- Ask: “According to verse 5, what did the Lord say He would do to those people?” (destroy them).
- Ask: “In verse 6, who did God say would inhabit their cities and towns?” (shepherds and sheep).
- Tell the class in verse 7 God said eventually all of the land of the Philistines would revert back to its rightful owners, the Jews.
- Read Zephaniah 2:8-11.
- Using the map, explain that Moab and Ammon were located just east of Judah. The Moabites and Ammonites were descendants of Lot through his incestuous relationship with his two daughters, making them relatives of the Jews.
- Ask: “According to verse 8, what had they done to God’s people?” (reviled, reproached, and attacked them).
- Ask: “In verse 9, what did God say He would do to Moab and Ammon?” (make them like Sodom and Gomorrah).
- Ask: “According to verse 10, why would this be their fate?” (because of their pride and the way they treated the people of the Lord).
- Tell the students in verse 11 the Lord promised to be “terrible” to them.
- Read Zephaniah 2:12.
- Using the map, explain that Ethiopia was and is located on the east coast of Africa.
- Ask: “What warning did God give to the Ethiopians?” (they will be slain by the sword).
- Read Zephaniah 2:13-15.
- Using the map, explain that Assyria and its capital city of Nineveh were located in what we know as northern Iraq. The city of Mosul lies near the ruins of Nineveh.
- Ask: “According to verse 13, what did God say He was going to do to Assyria and Nineveh?” (destroy them utterly).
- Ask: “According to verse 14, who did God say would dwell in that once magnificent city?” (animals).
- Ask: “According to verse 15, what was the attitude of the people and leaders of Nineveh?” (they were proud and arrogant).
- Tell the class God said those who passed by would be amazed by Nineveh’s destruction.
- Summarize: God warned several nations surrounding Judah that judgment was coming. He did not offer those heathen nations any opportunity to repent and turn to Him.
- God’s Plea to His People.
- Tell the class that you previously skipped over the first three verses of the chapter, but we will read them now.
- Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 2:1.
- Explain that Judah’s sins, some of which were described in chapter 1, made them a “nation not desired” – shameless and repugnant.
- In spite of this, there was still a faithful remnant in Judah, just as there is a faithful remnant of true Christians in our wicked nation today.
- Ask: “What did God tell the faithful remnant to do?” (gather themselves together for a solemn assembly).
- Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 2:2.
- Ask: “When did God tell them to call this solemn assembly?” (before the day of the Lord’s anger came upon them).
- In other words, time was running out!
- Read Zephaniah 2:3.
- Ask: “What did the Lord tell the people to do?” (seek Him).
- Ask: “Who did He direct that instruction toward?” (those who have done His will – the faithful remnant who sought to live by God’s commands).
- Ask: “What else did God tell them to seek?” (righteousness – right living, and meekness – humility).
- Ask: “What hope did God offer the faithful remnant if they sought Him?” (they might be hidden and protected when He poured out His wrath upon the sinners in their nation).
- Summarize: The Lord urged those who genuinely knew Him and sought to live for Him to gather together to seek Him, to seek righteousness, and to seek meekness so they might be protected when judgment came.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students this has been another gloomy lesson promising dreadful judgment upon those who sin against God. Direct their attention to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal banner. Throughout this quarter we have repeatedly seen that sin brings God’s judgment. Most of the verses we read today reinforce that truth – God promised to judge and destroy several heathen nations surrounding Judah.
Give everyone present a copy of the “Seek the Lord” handout. Tell them in the face of coming judgment God urged the faithful remnant of His people to seek Him, to seek righteousness (live right), and to seek meekness (humble themselves).
Tell the class we, like the ancient faithful remnant, live in a nation that has turned its back upon God and may be destined for His wrath and judgment. Ask: “What message can we glean from this chapter? What should we, the faithful remnant, do?” (we should seek the Lord). Tell the students we should seek the Lord, not only in prayer for spiritual renewal in our land, but also for personal cleansing and revival.
Read 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is printed on the handout sheet. Direct the students’ attention once again to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal banner. Tell them 2 Chronicles 7:14 is how we move beyond sin and judgment to experience genuine repentance and renewal.
Tell the class this lesson will merely be a forgotten history lesson if we don’t personally apply its truths to our lives. We, the people of God, must seek the Lord and seek to live for Him.
Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Tell them to personally seek the Lord. Tell them to humble themselves before Him and confess their sin. Tell them to ask the Lord to forgive and heal our land, and to use us to draw many people to Himself. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to put the “Seek the Lord” handout somewhere they will see it every day. Urge them to seek the Lord daily, to seek to live righteously, and to humble themselves before the Lord.
Give everyone present a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly for the fall quarter. Tell them in two weeks we will begin a six-month-long study of the Gospel of John.
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