Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff,
Before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you!
Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger.
[Zephaniah 2:1-3 NKJV]
Who is being addressed here? Who are the ‘undesirable nation’? It seems that we are talking of ‘fearful Gentiles’, or ‘greedy heathens’; other expressions we can derive from those words.
Gathering together is what we do, and for these last 14-15 months that has been impossible. Indeed, we cannot be sure — as a small house church — when we can legitimately gather again in full number. However, we can be assured that whatever the physical obstructions to gathering may be, the gathering in the Spirit is unhindered.
What is really interesting in this passage from Zephaniah — and the lesson we can learn — is that the exhortation to gather is made to the ‘undesirable nation’; the people who are not a part of spiritual Israel, the Kingdom of God. The word translated here as ‘gather together’ is qâšaš meaning ‘to become sapless through drought’.
So, rather than addressing people who do not know God, as might be supposed, Zephaniah is addressing those who know God but have turned their backs on Him; those who ‘forsake the gathering’, who have left to join the ‘undesirable nation’; those who backslide and drift away; those who no longer drink of ‘the living water’.
Nowadays we might say — far less eloquently than Zephaniah puts it — “Come on, everyone. Pull your socks up!” Whether we feel that we need to pull our socks up or not, it is certainly an encouragement to ask The Holy Spirit to ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’ [Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV]
It is because our Lord Jesus Christ went through the depths of agony to the last ebb in the Garden of Gethsemane, because He went through Calvary, that we can boldly enter the holy place.
[from ‘If Ye Shall Ask’, now titled ‘If You Will Ask’]
GEORGE and GILL STEWART