The Tension Remains

Pat McFall


Zephaniah 1-3, John 9


Zephaniah 1-3:

  • The Lord speaks judgement over Judah. Over the land and the people. Zephaniah gives a few different reasons: idolatry, rejection of God
  • God declares judgement on the enemies of Judah: pride, plunder, injustice
  • God then speaks of a restored people. A people of joy, who don’t fear evil and who worship their true God and protector.

John 9:

  • Jesus passes by a blind man and the disciples ask whose fault it is that he is blind.
    Their worldview: Bad people, do bad things and God punishes them, while good people do good things and God blesses them.
  • Jesus challenges their worldview by saying that no one sinned but that his blindness was about to give glory to God.
  • Jesus healed him

Common Themes:
1. Judgment and Restoration
2. Justice and Mercy
3. Sin and Redemption
4. Each existing in the same place, sometimes in the same time but usually talked about together.


Sometimes I want easy answers to really difficult questions. Even if they aren’t difficult, they might be really emotionally or spiritually challenging. Maybe the answers to these questions will even be scarier than the questions themselves. This tension is always there and while there are seasons of time where peace will reign in my heart or faith will replace anxiety, the tension is still there. The tension where wrath and mercy often exist side by side. In one moment Zephaniah is talking about the utter judgment and destruction of everyone and in the next moment he is describing a restored world where God is central and peace is the result. There is a tension in me in trying to understand that God’s judgement is actually and expression of his love. God will always judge sin but He always desires to restore the damage sin has caused.

In one moment all the disciples see is a blind man whose blindness was the result of his own sin or his parent’s sin. In the next moment Jesus sees a man in need of restoration and a moment where God can be glorified. The disciples wanted an easy answer to the question of the man’s sin and condition, “It’s either his or his paren’t sin, just tell us which one so we can feel better about understanding the pain in front of us.” Jesus gave them an answer, “It’s neither. This man was blind and that’s it! But his blindness and his healing can and will glorify God.” I’m sure they were challenged, I know I am.

I want to resolve so many tensions that I see in God’s word and in my own faith. But God seems to exist in the middle of those tensions and He reminds me that He is in control. He reminds me that I don’t need an answer to every question and that many times my questions reveal as much about my misguided motives as they do about my genuine curiosity. It doesn't make His word any less true and it challenges me to pursue Him more so that I may gain more understanding and wisdom.


God give me the patience and trust to know that You are at work even in the darkest moments of my life. Help me to KNOW that you are God and that you are good. Teach me to see moments in my day that can give glory to you and be a testimony to others.

Devotions for August 07

Zephaniah 1,2,3
John 9

Start Doing Devotions

Devotions are an important part of everyday life. Click here to learn how to do devotions.