2007-09-07 - Summer Question #12
Zephaniah 2:12, "You too, O Cushites, will be slain by my sword."
Today's Question: I made the statement in Sunday School, that the Bible - the entire Bible - is about Jesus, and is the story - from the Fall into sin, to the return of Christ - of God saving a people unto Himself. In addition, I stated that a preacher should be able to take any verse given him, and turn it into the Gospel, since, as my first statement said, the entire Bible is about Jesus. So a smarty-pants in Sunday School (you know who you are), gave me the above verse after the worship service, and I am to make it point to Christ.
Actually, this verse is not a huge challenge. But in addition, it also gives us a lesson that is very instructive. Cush is the son of Ham, who is one of the three sons of Noah, who entered the Ark and survived the flood w ith their wives. This passage should first be instructive to us, to notice how quickly apostasy can come upon a family. Cush is the grandson of Noah, and yet those who are descendant from him, the Cushites, or Ethiopians, are not within God's people. I will let you apply the matter to yourself and family relations, but the line of Noah, through this grandson, is outside of God's favor.
In this passage in Zephaniah we have the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar extending as far as the Cushites, and this verse is a reference that just as God used Nebucadnezzar to judge the Israelites for turning against Him, so also God's judgment extends to other nations, even faraway nations like Ethiopia, where the Cushites lived. They had forsaken God, and the prophetic warning here, from God's prophet, is that they also will suffer by being slain by His sword, for their apostasy from the true and living God.
Before drawing the obvious application from this judgment of God upon these people, who should have known better than to worship and serve idols, let us note that there has been an established church in Ethiopia since at least 400AD. It is thought that the Christian faith was introduced to Ethiopia as early as the time of the Apostles, through the Ethiopian eunuch who had the encounter with Philip in Acts 8 - but there is no clear evidence of a church established there at that point. There have been many assaults upon the church there. Islam tried to take over early (7th century) in its beginnings, by bloodshed, and in the 17th century, one Ethiopian king was converted to Roman Catholicism. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is still strong, and the Coptic Church has many adherents.
Getting back to our verse, the Cushites will be slain by the sword, because they have forsaken God. They will be judged. It is a warning to us all. God is not blind to how we live. He is not unaware when people forsake Him. He will judge those who turn away from Him. Sometimes He strikes us in this life with afflictions, so that we wake up to our foolishness. Sometimes He withholds His powerful hand of wrath until the final great Day of Judgment, when all will be brought to light. Either way, He still offers mercy while it is still called today. If any hear His call to repent of their wickedness, He has promised to sheath his sword.
He will have mercy, in Christ, to all who come to Him seeking forgiveness. This is true for every living person, no matter what they have done, or how unworthy they might feel they are of God's forgiving favor. As long as any of us draw breath, we can still return to the Lord, and He has promised to heal us, bandage our wayward hearts (Hosea 6:1), and deal graciously with us instead of executing His just wrath upon us. It is the wisest thing we can do, to turn to the living and loving God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,