When the Ethiopian police found her a week after her abduction, three black-maned lions surrounded her, guarding her as though she were their own. Seven men had kidnapped the twelve-year-old girl, carried her into the woods and beaten her. Miraculously, however, a small pride of lions heard the girl’s cries, came running and chased off the attackers. “[The lions] stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” police Sergeant Wondimu told one reporter.
There are days when violence and evil, like that inflicted on this young girl, overpower us, leaving us without hope and terrified. In ancient times, the people of Judah experienced this. They were overrun by ferocious armies and unable to imagine any possibility of escape. Fear consumed them. However, God always renewed His unrelenting presence with His people: “The
Whatever troubles overtake us, whatever evils, Jesus—the Lion of Judah—is with us (Revelation 5:5). No matter how alone we feel, our strong Savior is with us. No matter what fears ravage us, our God assures us that He is by our side.
What is your greatest fear right now? How does God’s promise to be with you encourage you?
Zephaniah wrote during the time of the reforms initiated by Josiah (Zephaniah 1:1), the last good king of Judah (2 Kings 22:1–23:25). Josiah had rediscovered the “Book of the Law” (22:8) and had it read aloud to the people of Judah. Perhaps this is why Zephaniah directly echoes many of the themes of Deuteronomy. Zephaniah prophesies that God will initiate the judgments Deuteronomy warned of. But He will also initiate their repentance: “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples” (Zephaniah 3:9); “I will remove from you your arrogant boasters” (v. 11). God’s judgment purifies His people.