Hebrew Highlights 89 UPSIDE DOWN
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
ZEP 3:9, “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.” In Hebrew we read, “Ki az e’phoch el-amim sapha b’rura”.
The word “e’phoch” is a very descriptive one, and actually means to turn completely over, or upside down. So then, God is promising to turn our language, or our words, upside down. Before I comment on the significance of this statement, let’s look at two other scriptures using the same Hebrew word.
First of all let’s read PSA 30:11, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”
Next, there is another famous passage from the New Testament in
ACT 17:6, “And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”
Now here is an interesting collection of ideas being turned upside down. It includes the world’s “manner of speaking”, our mourning, and the politically correct status quo.
Now, I assume that most of you would agree that God is not usually in the business of upsetting things, at least in a negative sense, but is instead occupied in trying to make things right. If this is the case, then by turning something upside down, he is actually up righting them.
Let me explain what I mean. When Paul and the other Apostles came to Athens, Thessalonica, and other cities in the Greek and Roman empires, they entered a world worshipping a variety of strange Gods, and following many philosophies. By preaching about Israel’s one true God, and His son Yeshua, they were actually setting things right. In other words, the world was already upside down, and needed fixing.
Likewise, when the Lord promises to turn our mourning into dancing, in the context of repentance, He is returning us to our proper state. His intention for us is to be people of worship and rejoicing, and not of sinning, and therefore sadness.
So then, what could the promise mean in the third chapter of Zephaniah? Well, all you have to do is turn on the television to understand God’s heart in this manner. You will hear complaining, fear, worship of false Gods, sexual innuendos, glorification of worldly ideas, and justification of immoral acts.
In our day and age, perhaps even more than in the time of the Apostle Paul, everything is indeed upside down, and needs to be righted.
If you are still having trouble getting my perspective on this word and idea, here’s an example you will be able to able to grasp. If you are walking through the woods, and come across a turtle on his back, with his legs swinging back and forth in the air in a desperate attempt to right himself, most of you will compassionately reach down and help him back on his feet. You will be literally turning him over, or upside down. However, since he was upside down in the first place, you will be making things right.
So then, we could say that today’s society is a turtle. It is on its back; helplessly flailing it’s scaly little legs in the air. God has promised to put it right, by offering forgiveness after repentance, praising in place of cursing, faith instead of fear, and even dancing, where we mourn.
By the way, God should be able to use us as believers to help accomplish this seemingly impossible task. I have heard testimonies of brothers and sisters who went into a new school, workplace, or neighborhood where cursing and foul language prevailed, and simply by speaking differently, gradually changed everyone’s language habits. Others have gone into hospitals and nursing homes and brought joy into the lives of those who suffer.
Let me leave you with a little question. When you become established in a new environment, will a report soon go out saying, "These men who have turned the world right side up have come here also.”?
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem.