August 26, 2018 – Zephaniah 3:1-20

Lesson Date: August 26, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: Zephaniah 3:1-20

AIM: To lead students to discover that the Lord has wonderful future plans for those who place their trust in Him, and to encourage everyone to personally place or renew their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Zephaniah 3 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write “The Best is Yet to Come” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the words “The Best is Yet to Come” written on the board. Ask: “What do those words mean to you?” Allow time for responses. Some possible responses could include looking forward to getting past some difficult circumstances, looking forward to reaching some goal or accomplishment, looking forward to completing treatment for some disease, a young adult looking forward to marriage and starting a family, or even a teenager looking forward to getting his or her driver’s license.

Tell the class words such as those written on the board convey hopeful optimism about the future. Ask: “Have you sensed much hopeful optimism throughout this quarter’s study of the Minor Prophets?” (definitely not). Ask: “What has been the predominant theme or message we have found in the Minor Prophets we’ve studied this summer?” (judgment, impending doom, and coming destruction).

Direct the students’ attention to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal banner. Ask: “Which of those four things have we seen most in these lessons?” (sin bringing judgment). Tell them in today’s lesson we will finally discover some good promises of repentance and renewal. We will discover that truly, “The Best is Yet to Come.”

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Tell the class this is our last lesson from the book of Zephaniah.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (seeking the Lord).
    • Ask: “Have you been seeking the Lord this week?”
  2. Woe to Wicked Israel.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 3:1-4.
    • Tell the class this warning is addressed to God’s chosen people, the Jews, who had ignored God’s repeated warnings and made themselves filthy and polluted.
    • Tell them verse 2 lists four things they had done wrong.
    • Ask: “What are those four things?” (1. they didn’t obey God’s voice, 2. they turned a deaf ear when the Lord rebuked their sin, 3. they didn’t trust the Lord, choosing instead to trust dead idols, and 4. they did not draw near to their God).
    • Ask: “What does verse 3 say about their rulers?” (they were like ravenous beasts that lived only to satisfy their hunger).
    • Ask: “What does verse 4 say about their religious leaders?” (they were dishonest, treacherous persons who corrupted God’s sanctuary).
    • Read Zephaniah 3:5-7.
    • Ask: “What does verse 5 say about the Lord?” (He is sinless, unchanging, and still cares about His people in spite of their sin).
    • Ask: “What does that verse say about unjust people?” (they have no shame; that sounds like many in our modern, sin-saturated world).
    • Tell the class that God’s judgment of the nations (v. 6) should have served as a warning to the Jews.
    • Ask: “In spite of God’s warnings, what did the wicked people of Israel do?” (they eagerly rose up early and corrupted everything they touched).
    • Summarize: In spite of God’s blessings, provision, and repeated warnings, the Israelites of Zephaniah’s day were wicked and corrupt.
  3. A Pivotal Moment in the Future.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 3:8.
    • Tell the students that God’s focus now shifts to the future. He told His people to wait because He has determined to gather the nations together and pour out His fierce anger upon them.
    • Explain that this will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation when the Lord Jesus Christ will return with the armies of heaven and utterly destroy the forces of the antichrist (Rev. 19:11-21) in the so-called “battle” of Armageddon.
    • Tell the class the rest of this chapter describes Christ’s glorious Millennial Kingdom.
    • Summarize: Sinners may have free course for a season, but there is coming a time when the Lord Jesus will return and set all things straight.
  4. Christ’s Future Millennial Kingdom.
    • Read Zephaniah 3:9-11.
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, what will all of Christ’s followers do in His Kingdom?” (speak the same language, call upon Him, and serve Him wholeheartedly).
    • Tell the class believers from all over the earth will come worship the Lord.
    • Ask: “Will the inhabitants of Christ’s kingdom have any shame over their past sins?” (no, because the blood of Jesus has covered every sin).
    • Tell the students Christ will take away from the midst of His people any who are proud or haughty (see Matt. 25:31-46).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 3:12-13.
    • Ask: “Who will be left in Christ’s Kingdom?” (meek and humble people – true believers who trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ).
    • Ask: “How does verse 13 describe them?” (they won’t sin, speak lies, or be deceitful; instead, they will dwell in safety and plenty).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 3:14-16.
    • Tell the class these verses are directed to the saved Jews who, along with all other Christians, will inhabit Christ’s Kingdom (Rom. 11:26).
    • Ask: “Why are they told to sing?” (the Lord has taken away their judgments, destroyed their enemies, and will dwell among them as their king; they will no longer see evil or experience fear or wickedness).
    • Read Zephaniah 3:17.
    • Ask: “Where will the Lord be?” (in the midst of His people – Rev. 21:3).
    • Ask: “How is the Lord described?” (He is mighty).
    • Ask: “What will He do?” (He will save, He will give His people rest in His love, and He will rejoice over them like a bridegroom rejoices over his beloved bride).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Zephaniah 3:18-20.
    • Explain that when the Jews were in captivity they could not observe the Passover and other religious assemblies. Sincere Jews were very sad about this. Verse 18 says God will gather them to Himself.
    • Ask: “What does verse 19 say God will do for His people?” (destroy their enemies, heal their wounds, gather the outcasts, and remove their shame).
    • Tell the class God repeatedly warned the sinful Jews that He would scatter them, send them into captivity, and make them a reproach. In Christ’s future Kingdom He will bring them back from captivity and make them renowned and praise by all people.
    • Summarize: Jesus Christ has promised His people a blessed and wonderful future Kingdom in which He will reign and His people will be blessed.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct everyone’s attention once again to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal banner. Tell them throughout this quarter we have had many lessons about sin and the judgment it brings. The opening verses of this lesson included that, but the remainder of this lesson focused on the blessings of renewal that come when we repent.

Direct the class’ attention to the words “The Best is Yet to Come” written on the board. Tell them that is a wonderful promise, but then ask: “Is that promise true for everyone? Does everyone on earth have a wonderful future to anticipate?” (no). Tell the students only those who have repented of their sins and placed their trust in Jesus Christ can know for sure that the best is yet to come. Below the words written on the board add the following: “For Those Who Trust Jesus Christ.”

Direct everyone’s attention back to the Sin – Judgment – Repentance – Renewal banner. Tell them those four words sum up the message of the Bible. Ever since the Garden of Eden, God has been warning man that sin brings judgment. The Bible tells us “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But the Bible also calls “all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30) and urges people to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). For those who heed God’s call to repent and believe, He promises blessings now and for all eternity.

Ask: “Have you ever placed your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation? If not, will you do so today?”

Ask: “If you’ve already trusted Jesus Christ for salvation but are not living as faithfully as you should, will you renew your trust in Him today and seek to live for Him from now on?”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Urge everyone to place (or renew) his or her wholehearted trust in Jesus Christ right now. Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Zephaniah 3:17.

Be sure each person present has a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly for the new quarter. Tell them next Sunday we will begin a six-month study of the Gospel of John. Ask them to begin the Daily Bible Reading Guide (found on page 4 of their quarterly) tomorrow.

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