There are times when, as followers of Jesus, we celebrate with unparalleled joy. Zephaniah described that kind of celebration. He invited the people to sing, shout aloud, be glad, rejoice with all their heart. That's starts to scrape the surface of what I felt like doing at last night's service!
Zephaniah 3:14 marks a turning point in Zephaniah's prophecy. The beginning of the book concentrates on God's judgment, but then the mood lightens and the prophet focuses on the Lord's future promises for His people: promises of restoration, healing, and blessing. When the Messiah would come to establish His kingdom, Zephaniah predicted, there would be a celebration to exceed all others.
Many of the promises in Zephaniah deal with Jesus' second coming, but there are others for which I believe we can experience on an everyday basis. Check out Zephaniah 3:17 and see what God is doing - all the time!:
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
First of all, God is with us, and He always has been. Many years after Zephaniah's ministry, when Jesus was about to return to Heaven, His followers must have been feeling the agony of impending loss. Jesus was leaving them...what?! But Jesus reassured them (and us) with the words, "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20. Now when I read that - I see always, that doesn't mean sometimes, that doesn't mean only when I think to call out to Him, that doesn't mean only when I feel like I've screwed up - so He's going to be there judging me...nope, that's always! His presence comes to us in different forms at different times, but He is NEVER far from us (Acts 17:27).
God also saves us. In the New Testament, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, a Jewish council or court, for questioning. Peter reminded those assembled that the only way to be delivered from sin is through Jesus, God's Son (not the easiest thing for a group of guys believing that strict following of the Law was the way to condemn sin to swallow...). "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). No other name. No other works. No special requirement of church attendance. Just Jesus - He saves us, period.
Sometimes the reality is difficult to comprehend, but God delights in us you guys!! He is vitally interested in our lives. You never have to wonder whether He is actually paying attention when you talk to Him - He is. You never have to question if He really care - He does. His love for us is so great that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sin so that we might have the opportunity to experience the fire of a relationship with Him.
Next, God quiets us with his love. What does that mean?? Well, we are restless creatures...we worry about everything. Worrying that God might not actually be out there, worrying that He might not really care, worrying about day-to-day things...we worry, we're restless. But His love is soothing and completely fulfilling if we will allow it to be. He quiets our restless spirits with His love. How much more could He love us than to die for us? (John 15:13).
Finally, God rejoices over us. The Bible has a lot to say about singing and rejoicing in God's honor (check out the Psalms...and the book of Revelation), but Zephaniah is made this amazing announcement that God is singing and rejoicing over us!! I just love this! What profound encouragement we can take from this? In the midst of a crappy day...God is singing over you. In the craziness of life...God is rejoicing over you. Always.
We all have something to shout about, no matter how trying and painful our particular circumstances might be. The God of the universe has saved us from our sin. He is right by our side, wherever we go. God loves us, delights in us, rejoices over us. Is it any wonder that all of Heaven honors Jesus by shouting aloud - Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!! (Revelation 5:12-13). And we are invited to join in the chorus.