Zephaniah 3:14–17 (NIV84)
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!
15 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.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
17 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.”
Show of hands- who knows more than a handful of things specific to the Prophet Zephaniah and the occasion for his Old Testament book? While most are more familiar with prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and maybe even Ezekiel, our glimpse into Zephaniah’s book today is worthwhile because it helps us see how the Savior who came into the world both eliminated our enemies and gives us the confidence to live for him.
While much of Zephaniah’s prophecy is God speaking directly through him, the verses before us are Zephaniah’s response to God’s goodness and mercy. He speaks for us all when he proclaims, “Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!” We don’t have to wait long to understand why there is reason to rejoice, “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.” What an amazing God we have! Even before the promise of a Messiah was fulfilled in Bethlehem, Zephaniah speaks of God’s promise as if it had already been fulfilled in Christ alone. Zephaniah writes knowing that sin’s eternal consequences have been washed away. He writes knowing the fear of death has been erased. Oh, how true. The Lord is victorious. Christ has conquered death. His victory is our victory.
Because of this, we are renewed in our faith. We know that “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.” Think about that. God Almighty rejoices because we are his and he is ours. The Lord of all is on our side. What could be better?! What could remind us more that victory is ours in him alone?!
Dear friends, this Lenten season is one of solemnity and repentance. We travel to the cross, reminded of our sins and need for a Savior. We also travel there, though, knowing that when Christ went to Calvary, he eliminated all our enemies. The price he paid has taken away our punishment. Never again do we have to fear any harm because he’s got us. He’s with us. He continues to fight on our behalf. Hold on to the words of Zephaniah that “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” They are words which drive away fear. They are words which remind us our enemies have no power over us. They are words which assure us of a victory earned by the blood of the One who went to Calvary on our behalf. All praise his holy name.
PRAYER: Lord God, you use a little-known Old Testament prophet today to remind us of who we are in Christ and we can rejoice in him as our Savior. Build us up in this timeless truth, O Lord, and take away the temptation to be fearful in this life and woeful when things don’t go our way. Remind us of your love. Fill us with your mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.