Zephaniah Says to Worship Our God of Hope
"The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
-Zephaniah 3:17, emphasis added
Zephaniah (640-621 B.C.) was a contemporary with Jeremiah (627-586 B.C.). The Minor Prophets often seem to have a despairing tone. Evil appears to run unchecked. The wicked die, apparently unaccountable for their deeds of cruelty and greed. God's people fail to obey. Death takes them all away. But there is a light in the distance; rays of hope stream from the promise that the Righteous Judge will make all things right some day. And on the horizon is a brand-new world. Impossible? No, God has already planned the ending. Zephaniah traced a bit of it in his closing words.
Because Zephaniah is a summary of the previous prophets, his content and style are very similar to the other eight. To best learn from Zephaniah, let's focus on the third chapter where we see "the Lord in the midst." Chapter 3 contains a beautiful spiritual lesson. It describes the sinful condition of a soul apart from Christ (vv. 1-2). Those who should have been leaders in righteousness are leaders in iniquity: the princes, judges, prophets, and priests. So the Lord himself takes the place of these leaders, and we see Him "in the midst," fulfilling each office in turn.
Like Zephaniah, we can truly worship our God of hope:
· Christ is our perfect judge-Who first comes to our hearts to convict us of all that is sinful there, and to bring His perfect judgment to light (3:5-7).
· Christ is our perfect prophet-Who comes to teach us to call upon His name with pure lips. Still "in the midst," He deals with the pride of heart, and brings us low into the place of blessing, in the presence of His holiness (3:8-13).
· Christ is our perfect King-Who comes "into our midst" as King, to reign in undisputed sway in the heart that is surrendered to Him. When the Lord fully reigns, the song thus begins (3:14-16).
· Christ is our perfect High Priest-Who is "in the midst" as our Great High Priest, bringing us into the place of communion with himself (3:17).
Trusting God in Zephaniah:The third chapter closes with the six beautiful "I wills" of what the Lord will do for us:
1. "I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden"(v. 18). God looks for genuine contrition over sin!
2. "I will deal with all who afflict you"(v. 19a). God deals with our adversaries in His time!
3. "I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out"(v. 19b). God is the defender of the weak!
4. "I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame"(v. 19c). God will give back for all we have lost for Him!
5. "I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you"(v. 20a). God has the timing and sequence of His kingdom plans all in order!
6. "I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes," says the Lord(v. 20b). God has chosen to restore Israel to the head of the nations in the Millennium!
Like Zephaniah, worship Christ, our God of hope, with your whole heart. Ask Him daily: "What can I do for You, oh Lord?" Then give Him your all.
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