The unjust knows no shame

The Danger of the Evening Wolf - Daily Devotional from Truth For Life
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6 RSV)

If you have spent any time reading the Bible you will find a recurring theme. When individuals or nations misbehave, or let’s just say it—sin—God calls them on it. He sent the prophet Nathan to speak to King David about his sin with Bathsheba. He sent many prophets to call out Israel for her sins. Today’s first reading in the Mass is one of those situations where God uses the prophet Zephaniah to speak to King Josiah about the wickedness of Judah and the nations around her.

The reading in our lectionary takes up the first two verses of Zephaniah 3 and then skips to verse 9 to verse 13.

Woe to her that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice, she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God.
(Zephaniah 3:1–2 RSV)

The next six verses are omitted in the reading.

Her officials within her are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are wanton, faithless men;
her priests profane what is sacred, they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous, he does no wrong;
every morning he shows forth his justice,
each dawn he does not fail;
but the unjust knows no shame.

Then the Lord speaks:

“I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets so that none walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely she will fear me, she will accept correction;
she will not lose sight of all that I have enjoined upon her.’
But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt.”

“Therefore wait for me,” says the Lord, “for the day when I arise as a witness.
For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger;
for in the fire of my jealous wrath all the earth shall be consumed. (Zephaniah 3:3–8 RSV)

The Mass reading picks up again at verse 9:

“Yes, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
shall bring my offering.

“On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.
For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no wrong and utter no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue.
For they shall pasture and lie down,
and none shall make them afraid.”
(Zephaniah 3:9–13 RSV)

I wonder why those six verses were omitted? It could be explained easily as needing to shorten the reading. Could be. Or perhaps the committee who selected the readings felt the first two verses sufficiently explained the wickedness of the nations. Could be.

Call me suspicious, even cynical, but I suspect the omitted verses were too intense. They call out four groups of people who were the leading culprits in leading Israel and the nations into wickedness: the officials, the judges, the prophets and the priests.

Her officials within her are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are wanton, faithless men;
her priests profane what is sacred, they do violence to the law.

When was the last time you heard a messenger from God boldly call out government officials, judges, prophets and religious leaders? If he or she did, public opinion, the media, and the powers that be would squash them, they would ridicule them as not being sensitive, not being politically correct, not being tolerant. And so those things that grieve God and pull us farther from him continue unchecked, unabated.

What Zephaniah tells us in the full context of his prophecy is that God is not like these human leaders. God is righteous. God does no wrong. Every morning God shows forth his justice, but is anyone paying attention? Each dawn God does not fail, but are we appreciative and responsive? Sadly, we often follow the example of our leaders in government, culture, entertainment and even in faith, and we are unjust and we know no shame!

God have mercy on us! God have mercy on our leaders in government and especially in the Church! Let’s seek our refuge in the Lord. Let’s do no wrong. Let’s utter no lies. Then we will pasture and lie down with our Good Shepherd and we will not be afraid!

One thought on “The unjust knows no shame

  1. I’m lovin’ your posts!

    Will call again soon. We shall connect, sayeth the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity.

    On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 3:58 PM Caritas in Veritate wrote:

    > Caritas in Veritate posted: ” “My people are destroyed for lack of > knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6 RSV) If you have spent any time reading the Bible > you will find a recurring theme. When individuals or nations misbehave, or > let’s just say it—sin—God calls them on it. He sent the prophet Na” >

    Like

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