Daily D – Zephaniah 3:17
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. ZEPHANIAH 3:17 (NLT)
A preacher in Waco last week took credit for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s death. He said he had prayed for it and God answered. You can read Bud Kennedy’s reflections on the matter from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram here: [https://bit.ly/3jcGTQF]
I’m glad he’s not my pastor. Can you imagine if he came to see you in the hospital and someone parked in the designated clergy parking space and he had to walk an extra thirty yards from parking with pagans? What if you had done something to offend him in some way? He sounds like a guy who is easily offended. He might pray that God would rid the world of us because we disagree on something.
Judgment is not God’s Ultimate Solution. When God punished his people in the pages of the Old Testament, it was because of the entrenched sin they steadfastly refused to give up in spite of adequate and explicit warning. The punishment was not the end of the story. Consider Zephaniah’s writings as a quick read on this thesis.
Zephaniah’s slim booklet of prophecy is not very encouraging for two and a half of its three chapters. It is doom and gloom and judgment. Judgment, however, is not the final word. Restoration and renewal is.
God’s words of warning preceded judgment and punishment. On the other side of the punishment was a return to the state of relationship our Father in heaven longed for all along. Sin has consequences. Those consequences are unpleasant. Sometimes they are downright deadly when they are persisted in for long enough.
Sometimes people heed the warnings. Sometimes people acknowledge their sins. Sometimes they repent and return to God. How does God treat us on the other side of rebellion and the discipline which follows? Zephaniah tells us.
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
What he wanted all along, what he invited us to when we steadfastly turned away from him, he reinstates to his delight and our comfort.
He never moved away from us. We moved away from him, or so we thought. Where can you go from our omnipresent God?
Our sins and their consequences may be devastating personally, to our families, to our communities. As John Newton, the slave ship captain turned preacher said, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” He is mighty to save even you, even me.
He takes delight in us. We make him glad. Remember how the father welcomed his rebellious son when he came home in the parable of the Prodigal Son? There is a welcome for you just like that when you turn your heart toward home.
He lovingly calms all of our fears. Sin complicates things. God’s love uncomplicated them.
He sings his songs of parental love over our weary and troubled souls. He knows the perfect tune. His words match the moment and the mood and create in us new hearts and new hope.
We are in a season of deep conflict on every hand. This is not the first time our world as teetered in this fashion. It will not be the last time most likely. Out of times like these have come God’s best work. He begins with willing individuals who say yes to his gracious offer to turn from our sins, turn to his purpose, and turn our worlds right side up.
That leads to singing new songs of love and joy. I have it on good authority that the best music ever has already been written and is waiting to be performed.
I will repent, return, and sing our Father’s song.
Our Father, what a mess our world is in. We need you. Please deliver us from the mess we have made. Our pride and greed and power-hungry tendencies have wounded everyone everywhere. We are powerless to restore ourselves. You are our only hope. We need you. Thank you that you are closer than we can imagine, more ready to receive us than we are to return, more loving than we know, and more delighted than we could hope. Let us hear your songs and join you in singing about our healing and hope. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)