February 16, 2015


Zephaniah 3:9 “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him shoulder to shoulder.”

It’s interesting that the Japanese translation specifies “change and cleanse/purify.” The current state is not pure! However, God is still in control, and nothing is too difficult for Him. (Jeremiah 32:27) Several things in this verse stand out to me. One is that God is talking about “the peoples of the nations.” This isn’t just the scattered remnant of the Jews, but includes the Gentiles as well. Another is that such people, from all nations, will pray in the Name of the Lord. All cultures have a tradition of prayer, because it is something God put into us at Creation. However, in most cultures that is corrupted, and people don’t pray in the Name of the only One who really can hear and answer prayer. Another point, and a vital one, is unity across all national and cultural boundaries. As Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) It is also important to note that the purpose of that unity is to serve God, and not for some humanistic end. Ever since the Tower of Babel mankind has tried to unite in defiance of God, or at least ignoring Him, but that doesn’t work. And the overriding truth in this verse, with which it starts out, is that this is something God is going to do. Human history certainly demonstrates that it is beyond our abilities to achieve without Him!

I’m not sure how many nations were represented at the conference I attended recently, but there were quite a few. In a very real sense it was a demonstration of this verse. The two main languages were Japanese and English, but I heard Portuguese and Chinese, at least, among some of the attendees. It was interesting to have Japanese as the common language when I was talking with some Brazilians. All differences aside, we were clearly united in worshiping and serving a common Lord, and that was glorious. My wife, and others who have been to heaven briefly and come back, says that there are no language barriers in heaven at all. That’s something to look forward to, and conferences such as the one just ended are a foretaste of that. However, I am impressed that if we focus on unity itself as our goal, we will fail. That’s no better than the Tower of Babel. It is when we are focused on worshiping and serving Jesus Christ that we discover the unity that escapes us otherwise. No two human beings are identical, and we shouldn’t try to be. However, when we are are genuinely focused on the Lord of Glory, we discover that all barriers have disappeared.

Father, thank You again for last week’s conference, and for the one-day conference we’ll be attending today. Thank You for the unity that we do taste in this congregation. Help us focus more and more on You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that we may be fully united in prayer and service, by Your power and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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