Week 44 God Will Rejoice

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 44

Scripture Reading: Zephaniah

Key Scripture Verses: Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’”

The Lord’s prophet, Zephaniah, is thought to have written this somewhere between the dates of 640-621 B.C. when Josiah was king of Judah and making great reforms. The book starts out with doomsday prophecy, telling the people that they need to change their ways, to repent, to follow the God of their ancestors, and to escape God’s wrath. But as we progress to the end of the book, Zephaniah recognizes that there will be a remnant of believers among the people whom God will continue to favor and bless.

Unfortunately, God sent prophet after prophet to Judah for spiritual renewal, but over and over again, even after some reform and spiritual rededication of themselves to him, they eventually would fall back into worship of false gods.

The people of Judah were blessed and prospered in wealth and comfort, and had an attitude of self-sufficiency—as a result, they became complacent and forgot their need for God and that all of their blessings had come from him.

But, our God is a faithful God. He continued to seek the Jews and continued to discipline them when they were unfaithful, in order to offer them his love and abundance.

Zephaniah reminded them of the hope of a time when God would favor the faithful remnant of Judah, when their enemies would be kept from harming them, when he would favor Judah—a future time when God would “delight” in them and “rejoice” over them.

God will judge them, and all of us, for our sins. And he will purify us all, purging evil for good. And he will celebrate and rejoice when his righteous followers are gathered together in the New Jerusalem—God’s holy city on the hill will be restored.

Another key verse beckons us to keep our faith and to follow him so that we, too, will avoid God’s wrath (Zephaniah 2:3): “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility: perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”

May we all follow him more closely, developing in our faith and devotion, so that when the final days come, the Lord our God will “rejoice over us in singing”—what could be a more wonderful celebration than that?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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