‘The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly... That Day will be a Day of wrath... I will bring distress upon the people... because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
In Zephaniah, we have a story of sin - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not accepted correction. She has not trusted in the Lord. She has not drawn near to her God’ - and a story of salvation - ‘Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy... The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:1-2,14-17). The story of our sin is full of sadness. The story of God’s salvation fills us with gladness - ‘Rejoice and be glad! The Redeemer has come’ (Mission Praise, 573).
No praise for ourselves - Let's give all the praise to the Lord.
"If anyone is going to boast, let him boast only of what the Lord has done" (1 Corinthians 1:31). Salvation comes from the Lord. It doesn't come from ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. We can only be saved by the Lord. Take no glory for yourself. Give all the glory to the Lord. Hallelujah! Praise be to His gracious and glorious Name.
The Be Attitudes - This is what we are to be.
In Matthew 5:1-2, we have the introduction to 'the Sermon on the Mount' (chs 5-7). Reference is made to both 'the disciples' and 'the crowds'. The disciples are taught with a view to becoming teachers of the crowds. Peter learned from Christ and later he taught the crowds (Acts 2:14-42). The Sermon on the Mount was heard by the crowds as well as the disciples. Jesus spoke to the crowds. His ministry to the disciples had a dual purpose. It was for their own spiritual strengthening. It was training for the time when they would be entrusted with the Lord's commission: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Matthew 28: 19-20). Do you read God's Word solely for your own benefit? Or, do we have an eye for ways in which we can learn to share His Word with others?
In Matthew 5:3-12, we have 'the Beatitudes.' They show us God's way of blessing. We might also describe them as the Be Attitudes, since they show us what we are to be. Jesus teaches us that the way to happiness is the way of holiness. The only alternative to the way of holiness is the way of hypocrisy. There can be no true happiness when we are walking in the way of hypocrisy. Holiness is to take shape in our lives - the shape of Jesus Christ living in us. This is the truly happy life: the Christ centered life. We are not to live according to present appearances. We are to live in the light of the future Reality of God's heavenly Kingdom. Some of Jesus' later statements can be viewed as an exploration of the meaning of the Beatitudes. The general principles (3-10) are to be applied personally: 'Blessed are you...' (11-12). We are not only to read the Beatitudes. We are to live them.