By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
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?