“Joy for the Faithful” Sunday School Lesson, Zephaniah 3:9-14, 20; June 19, 2016

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June 19, 2016

“Joy for the Faithful”

Zephaniah 3:9-14, 20

PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy!  Blessings.

Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.comunless properly quoted/cited. As always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well.  Blessings!)

Lesson Summary


It has been said, “Behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining,” and “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”  Both sayings we have been accustomed to hearing through the years as a message of hope even during the darkest times of life.

Despite the tragedies that unfold in the world around us, the darkness of the judgment Zephaniah and other prophets foretold was by all counts worse.  But, judgment was not the end of the story.  With God’s mercy in play there is always hope on the horizon and joy for the faithful who stand strong and refuse to give up.

Zephaniah 3:9-10 “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.  From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.”

Last week’s lesson left off in verse 8 (which occurs expressly before this week’s text), on a note judgment.  Judgment will happen and all unrepentant sin will be dealt with, as was discussed.

Here, in verse 9-10, we see a turning of circumstance.  God, through Zephaniah, spoke of a time of restoration; a time when a remnant will rise from the ash heaps of ruin and worship God again as His exclusive, holy people.

“For then will I turn to the people a pure language.”  The idea behind the word “pure” is to be clean in the sense that we know it; to be free from anything that taints or contaminates.  God has always desired that man live in holiness and be virtuously inclined to do right by Him (compare Leviticus 11:44 and 1 Peter 1:16).

Here, we see that after judgment there are hearts that belong to Him; hearts that will freely “call upon the name of the LORD.”  When once men went after their own ways; when they were a polluted people from serving false gods and false ways, now they are “pure” and centered in their faith wholly on the “LORD.”  In that we see proper and undefiled worship restored.

Restored.  Is there a word more beautiful?  It represents something that was broken and torn apart being put back together again; something akin to a spiritual Humpty Dumpty, if you will allow me to use that example.  Except there are no kings horses and men putting an egg back together again – only God and man coming together once again in sweet, holy fellowship.

“To serve him with one consent,” gives the idea of unity, but the actual interpretation gives a better definition.  It means to be on accord which means shoulder to shoulder bearing and partnering in the work of the Lord.  It’s togetherness with no division of heart, mind, and soul regarding one’s worship to Him.  Psalms 22 gives us this promise concerning the future, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee,” (Psalm 22:27).  Together, and unhindered.

Please note: Can we even imagine what power and authority true, unified worship will bring?  Unleashed and unhindered by some of the same characteristics that warranted judgment, it would be an explosion to impact nations and the world as a whole for the better.

“From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.”  His people everywhere, no matter who they are, nor how far reaching geographically, “shall bring mine offering,” (worship and serve Him).  Psalms 68:31 tell us, “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”  Those that were “dispersed” of God’s people, the Jews, will come near again with a true heart in devoted praise.  Those beyond the rivers of Ethiopia (Cush) alludes to Gentile worshippers.  Any and all “my suppliants;” those that call upon Him in prayer, shall come together in unified, restored worship.

Zephaniah 3:11-12 “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.  I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.”

“In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me.”  One of the greatest forms of restoration and sources of joy for any people to receive is pardon and forgiveness for wrongs committed.  “In that day,” after judgment is over and mercy enters the scene, all reproach will be turned on its heels for the faithful.

Think about that word shame for a moment.  Shame goes beyond regret.  It ties in with an inner turmoil one wrestles with over past mistakes.  It can gnaw at you and be unrelenting in bringing you down.  It’s a heavy burden that God promises to lift their heads above because in that day, He takes it all away.  “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins,” He spoke in Isaiah 43:25.

“I will take away out of the mist of thee them that rejoice in thy pride and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.”  The people in the days of these Old Testament prophets were often filled with “pride” because of their affiliation with Jerusalem, and even the temple.  This led to the false belief that they could continue in their life of sin with no repercussions to follow.  At that time, they listened to false prophets who convinced them to trust more in the temple then the God who dwells in the midst.  This is the ideology Jeremiah confronted when he spoke, saying, “Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these,” (Jeremiah 7:4).

When the restored people come forth the ones that were filled with pride will be no more.  Pride, and anyone filled with it, has always been in opposition of God.  Lest we think we escape judgment, it doesn’t only apply to being in affiliation with the temple.  In any area of life, when one seeks to lift self or others above God in headiness of ego in any way, shape, or form – God will tear it and them down and remove them.  The “haughty” will be humbled.

Jesus once taught, “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted,” (Matthew 23:12).  James wrote using harsher language, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).  Today, and in that day, God hates pride and will fight against all types of it.

Your own power will not see you through to that coming day.  Neither will reliance on anything outside of God Himself.  God will flip the script, and those that “trust in the name of the LORD” will be the ones that remain; the one’s He will “leave in the midst of thee.”

They are the ones whose attitudes are opposite of those who were filled with pride.  Rather, this group of individuals is described as being “afflicted and poor people.”  The Bible tells us, “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly . . .” (Psalm 138:6).  Those that are humble have no problem looking to God and God has no problem looking to them.  This group has been through the wringer of life and readily admits they can’t do this without God.  They have no other reliable resources.  Just in the simplest of faith they believe and trust in Him to be their reward.  And, that my friends, is what He desires from us all.

Zephaniah 3:13 “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” 

For the returning “remnant of Israel” and for those in that final coming prophesied day, all previous and sinful behaviors they used to be known by will be no more.  Where once “iniquities . . . lies . . . deceitful tongues” were prevalent, for these faithful it shall not be.  They will resemble the character traits of the peoples found in Revelation 14:5 where, “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

This is what a future with God looks like.  This is what heavenly inhabitants looks like.  All sin and liars will have their part in the lake (see Revelation 21:8).  But, for those who know and love God, they will be His bride (Revelation 21:9).

These verses point beyond just a return from Babylonian captivity.  They point to that ultimate great day when there will be no more curse and God’s people will serve Him not being hindered any longer by the sin of this world, and see Him face to face (Revelation 22:3-4).

One of the side effects of living in a world filled with degradation and sin is it brings about fear and all its undesirable counterparts.  For those faithful, they will have no reason to fear.  “They shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”  This fills us with a sense of peace like none has ever experienced before.  It brings to mind another prophesy of a beautiful coming day in the future which Isaiah foretold, saying, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,” (Isaiah 11:6; read Isaiah 11:6-12 for full details).  Anything that used to make people afraid will be banished from our future kingdom in Christ (see also Hosea 2:18).

Please note: Look around our world today at all the things and images that evoke fear.  All of this is because of sin.  Sin has cursed this world and has robbed us from that Garden of Eden experience God originally designed.  But, in that coming day, fear and everything associated with it will be done away with once and for all.  Hallelujah!

Therefore, we will rejoice!

Zephaniah 3:14 “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.”

The time of affliction, judgment, and mourning is past.  Now is the time to rejoice in the victory the Lord has secured for His faithful.  So, we see the command, “Sing, O daughter of Zion!”

The book of Revelation shows us pictures of singing in the future: “And I saw as it were . . . them that had gotten the victory . . . and they sing the song” (Rev. 15:2-3).  You’ve heard me quote this before, but that’s alright.   This is one of my favorite articles, my formerly published title, Sing!  In I wrote:

“Music is no doubt powerful.  The most precious and heart-felt songs come after times of hardship and struggles.  When we have gone through the wringer of life, made it to the other side, and have squeezed out a heart that expresses gratefulness to God.  Music that tells the world that yes, it was hard, but I made it to the other side.  After crossing the Red Sea did not Miriam put a tambourine in her hand and say, “Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” (Exodus 15:21, KJV)?

In the book of Revelation, we see songs of deliverance going up before God.  They had overcome “the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having harps of God,” (Rev. 15:2, KJV).  And, what did they do?  “They sing!” (Rev. 15:3, KJV).  Their praise cannot be constrained any longer.  They have never felt freer then when they had overcome.  That kind of joy starts to seep out every crevice of one’s being until it pours over in song, releasing praise to God!

Music and songs are wrought throughout the Bible.  The psalmist exhorts us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing,” (Ps. 100:1-2, KJV).  When the Assyrians were prophesied to be destroyed, Isaiah 30:29 emphatically declares, “Ye shall have a song!” (KJV).  When Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises, the earth quaked and prison doors were opened (Acts 16:25-26).  After the Last Supper “they had sung a hymn,” (Mk. 14:26, KJV).  James said, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” (Ja. 5:13, KJV).” (Word For Life Says/SING; with additional highlights)

And, I declare today as Isaiah did, for all the faithful who overcome in that coming day, “Ye shall have a song!” (Is. 30:29).  You will SING!  Restoration brings happiness and joy for those who hold fast to God’s unchanging hand.  Therefore, they sing!

Zephaniah 3:17 is not a part of our printed text, but offers inspiration to many who are faithful.  It shows that not only will there be a future to sing about for the people, but God is there in the midst of them and He will sing over His people: “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:20 “At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.”

God, by prophets, put the call out there numerous times for repentance.  He urged the people to veer away from their life of sin and selfishness and to take up righteous living in Him, but they didn’t want to hear what He had to say.  Therefore, the people went into captivity.

But, all hope was not lost.  He had a righteous remnant of His people that He would bring back from Babylonian captivity to return home in the physical near future.  “And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity,” (Zeph. 2:7; see also Jeremiah 23:3).

And, in that great and coming day, “at that time,” God was going to “turn back your captivity” in the spiritual and meet His faithful people in their new heavenly home.  “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain,” (Isaiah 66:22).

“For I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth.”  Malachi tells us, “And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts,” (3:12).  The tongues that wagged against them for adversity will now be forced to exalt them in their restoration.

“Saith the LORD.”  This is a restoration promise endorsed by God Himself.


All the promises laid up for a future heavenly restoration, being freed from the ultimate captivity of sin, are found in our Lord Jesus Christ for Jews and Gentiles alike; for now and in that coming day.  Jesus is our light at the end of the dark tunnel of this world.

(Click here for PDF: Joy for the Faithful Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below.  Enjoy!)

Below are activities for this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

Word Search: Joy for the Faithful Word Search  Answers: Joy for the Faithful Word Search Answers

Crossword: Joy for the Faithful Crossword  Answers: Joy for the Faithful Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Joy for the Faithful Word Scramble  Answers: Joy for the Faithful Word Scramble Answers

Activities below have been reworked and/or reused from previous lesson to accompany this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!:

“Make a Joyful Noise Microphone Craft”: Here is a craft that will surely inspire your students to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Simply take a toilet paper roll and cover it with any color construction paper.  Next, print out the PDF: Make A Joyful Noise Toilet Paper Roll Cover.  Have students color and decorate.  Attach to the  toilet paper roll.  Ball up aluminum foil into a tight ball or use a Styrofoam ball covered in glitter  (can be done in advance) and attach to the top of the roll with hot glue or tape.  Enjoy! (I was inspired to do this from thegirlinspired.com although mine is made a little different).

Make A Joyful Noise Toilet Paper Roll Cover-001PhotoGrid_1418320516901

“Printable Microphones:” If you like the idea of using a microphone theme but don’t have time or resources, use this printable for students to cut out and decorate (cardstock works best or glue cut out to construction paper).  Attach the memory verse to the back and your students are ready to rock out for God.  Enjoy!  PDF: Zephania 3 14 Sing Printable Microphones (Use this link for accurate printing)

Zephania 3 14 Sing Printable Microphones-001

Draw the Scene: SING Draw the Scene (Use this PDF for accurate printing)

SING Draw the Scene-001

Memory Verse: Joy for the Faith Memory Verse (Use this PDF for accurate printing)

Joy for the Faith Memory Verse-001

Below are Activities/Links/Resources that support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Mighty To Save – Zephaniah 3:17 Printables”

“A Journey Home”

“Zephaniah Teacher’s Guide”

“Zephaniah Activity”

“The Prophet Zephaniah Teacher’s Guide”

“Zephaniah Bible Coloring Page”

“Prophet Coloring Page”

“Prophets” (Old Testament prophets in review for reading age children to understand.  Enjoy!)


Below are more activities centered around worship/praise/singing unto the Lord that can support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Praise the Lord” from Childrensministry.com

“Why Do We Praise God?” from Kidssundayschool.com

“I Will Praise God” Coloring Page from Twistynoodle.com

“Sing Praise to the Lord” Coloring Page from Lessons4sundayschool.com

“Psalm 147:1” Coloring Page from Ilovejesus.com

“O Sing to the Lord a New Song” Coloring Page from Karla Dornacher

“Make a Joyful Noise” Coloring Page from Karla Dornacher

“Sing Unto the Lord” Coloring Pages from Childrens Gems in MY Treasure Box

“Praise the Lord” Coloring Page from Church House Collection

“When We Praise God” Coloring Page from Hem of His Garment

Don’t forget Father’s Day is coming up this week.  You might want projects centered around that.  Below are a few suggestions.  Enjoy!

“Father’s Day Ideas” from Ministry to Children

“Father’s Day Trophy” from Preschool Crafts for Kids

“Father’s Day Rocks!” paperweight from Preschool Crafts for Kids

“Father’s Day Shirt and Tie Card Craft” from Preschool Crafts for Kids

“Father’s Day Handprint Card” from Crafty-crafted

“Two More Father’s Day Crafts” from Craftsforkidslets.com

“Father’s Day Printables and Cards” from Allcrafts.net (This site has several great ideas.  Enjoy!)

Allkidsnetwork.com has several great Father’s Day ideas.

Other Father’s Day Sites:



Simpsonized Crafts and then some

“Easy Father’s Day Crafts” from Blue Paper


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