Monday, 29 October 2012

The Verse - Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

(Zephaniah 3:17)

I love this verse and it was brought up in conversation with some people from church, so I wanted to share it with you.

Here is some context: The prophet Zephaniah lived during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC). Previously, the kings of Judah had led their people astray from God into many forms of idolatry and sin. During the reign of Josiah, the Book of God's Law was found by Hilkiah the High Priest. From it Josiah started a great reform, bringing people back to the Lord. Due to his royal heritage Zephaniah was able to speak to King Josiah directly, and undoubtedly played a part in the reformation of Judah.

The Book of Zephaniah was written before these reforms. Zephaniah warns Judah that the final days are near and that the Lord will soon bring judgement through allowing them to be conquered by the Babylonians. However, as with many of the books of prophecy in the Bible, near-future fulfillment often mingles with distant-future fulfillment. I once had it described to me through the analogy of looking at a mountain range. You see a mountain before you, but behind it you can see another mountain, and still further behind that you can see another fainter mountain. From the perspective of biblical prophecy, this is like near-future fulfillment, Messianic fulfillment (in the life of Jesus), and end-times fulfillment. It's amazing how sometimes even just one verse can refer to two or sometimes even three different time periods and fulfillments (whether they be partial or complete fulfillments).

Anyway, I digress. So Zephaniah deals with the immediate judgement at the hands of the Babylonians, but it also speaks about the last days when Jesus will return and judge the world. The verse above is in reference to the final judgement.

Here are the things I love about this verse:

1) It speaks of God being in [our] midst. We know that the Holy Spirit does indeed dwell in us once we have repented and placed our trust in Jesus Christ, and although it will naturally be very different when we are in Heaven, we can still experience God's presence to a degree on earth.

2) A mighty one who will save - There is no one who God cannot save. There is no sin too big for God to forgive. Our God is truly mighty to save. I know this personally because of the multitude and depth of my own sins. The Lord is bigger and mightier than all of our sins put together.

3) He will rejoice over you with gladness - The other day Luke and I were listening to one of our favourite radio programs, Wretched Radio, and the topic was how you think God feels towards you. Do you think He is angry with you? Do you think He is displeased? Do you think He just tolerates you? The Bible teaches that when we repent and put our trust in Jesus Christ, we become God's children: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). The fact of the matter is, as Christians we now have an alien righteousness. Jesus' righteousness is applied to us through His death on the cross, which means God looks on us the same way as He looks on His Son. He is full of compassion and love towards us, as a father is to his children. As this verse says, He rejoices over us with gladness.

4) He will quiet you by his love; - When we truly understand the Gospel and the extent of God's love towards us, there are no words that seem adequate to express our gratitude.

5) He will exult over you with loud singing. - This is my favourite part of the verse: the idea that when we are in Heaven, not only do we get to praise God, but we also get to hear Him sing to us. That must be the most glorious and beautiful sound ever. After all, God created music. I can't wait to hear this!

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