Book Review: The Twelve by Parker Bradley (Zephaniah)
Welcome to our monthly book review for, The Twelve- A Transformational Journey Through The Minor Prophets, by Parker Bradley. Drawing from the insights of the Minor Prophets in the Bible, The Twelve, is an encouraging, but also challenging resource for followers of Jesus, and anyone wanting to honestly understand how God reveals Himself in Scripture.
We covered the chapter on Habakkuk, last month, and are covering the chapter on Zephaniah in this episode.
Parker calls this chapter, God Versus the God We Make Him Out to Be.
I really like how Parker provides an overview of the context of the book at the beginning of his chapters. He talks about the misconceptions we have about God, throughout the history of mankind. He speaks about practical atheism - that applies to both non-Christians and Christians alike referencing Zephaniah 1:12. He talks about uninterrupted prosperity resulting in a growing indifference to God, as we are, as he puts it, “choking on our blessings” - pretty strong stuff.
Parker provides background knowledge for Zephaniah by referring to King Manasseh's reign in 2 Chronicles. He does this with all his chapters, which I find very helpful.
Parker refers to the “recipe” in Chapter 3:1-3 of what to do, to exclude God from your life. When I read those verses, I referred to it as a recipe on what to do to stay close to God - taking the opposite of what was written: Obey Him, accept correction from Him, trust Him and draw near to Him. Amen. Parker gave a precise rundown of what it is to rebel against God based on these verses and what man has done in modern society. He mentions the “follow your heart”advice that the world teaches that reminds me of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
My heart ached when Parker spoke of the mistake of going after lesser gods for a sense of security and self worth, and what the inevitable result is. He describes the heart wrenching result very well. I was reminded of God’s repeated plea to Israel.
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Parker speaks of The Day of the Lord referencing this theme in Joel and Amos, and referring to the context of judgement and blessings. He reads Zephaniah 1:2
“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. He comments how some people think it is prophetic and others not. For me, Zephaniah seems to be a book about the past and the future.
Their goods shall be plundered,
and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
they shall not drink wine from them.
These verses are echoed in Isaiah 65:21-23, however, in this case it’s a blessing.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,
And their offspring with them.
So is there double prophecy in Zephaniah? Some verses speak of things that have happened in the past. For example, Chapter Two mentions people worshipping Moab and Baal and the destruction of Nineveh.
Some other verses that make me thing Zephaniah is partly prophetic are:
“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
“for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.
9 “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.
At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord . Zephaniah 3:20
These verses reminds me of the cleansing and renewal of the earth referenced in Revelation chapter 19-21.
So going back to the theme of the day of the Lord, Parker refers to it as being about any point in time for the wrath of the Lord or a day of blessings.
The Day of the Lord is mentioned several times in Chapter One: 1:7-9 and 14.
Sifting through the prophetic meaning of Zephaniah and the meaning of the day of the Lord are things we can study, ponder and of course pray about to God, to ask for His wisdom.
Parker has a great section on belief determining behaviour. Giving examples, right from scripture, of behaviour that contradicted what people claimed to believe. It’s a reflective section too, as Parker asks his listeners if their behaviour reveals what they say they believe or what they actually believe. It reminds me of that famous saying: Actions speak louder than words.
Parker also has great sections on the importance of silence and God’s constant presence, pulling wonderful examples from scripture and everyday life experiences.
I really like how he highlights Zephaniah 2:3 towards the end of the chapter:
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden
on the day of the anger of the Lord.
From there Parker rejoices in the end message of Zephaniah - restoration, the bigger picture, the ultimate result. I really like his comforting words on how the little things, that we consider the big things in this life, can cloud our vision, and test our patience to wait on the Lord.
I am reminded of Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 25: 21 - May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
I really like how Parker ties Zephaniah to Jesus Christ and salvation, since Jesus tells us in Luke 24:27, that all scripture points to Him.
Parker Bradley does another wonderful job of discussing the book of another prophet, from all angles - the most important being the character of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. He encourages us to return to the book of Zephaniah. I most certainly will. I’d like to end this review with the verses of promise Parker references from Zephaniah 3:17 and 19.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
Thank you for reading this review. Until next time - peace be with you.
Book and thumbnail source: www.audible.com