"The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing"
--Zephaniah 3: 17--
Take a moment and drink that verse in. Listen to what it teaches and the testimony that it bears.
In our Advent rush and our preparation for the Christmas event we turn our hearts and minds towards the Holy One of Israel to sing praises for all of his wonderful deeds. In all our holiday hustle amidst one of the most commercially prosperous times of the year we are intent to worship God, come in human flesh and the Father who has sent him to dwell among us.
We have built generational traditions to celebrate this time of year and the God who draws near to us in this time and these historical remembrances.
This prophecy from Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets tells a slightly different story. A different kind of celebration, one that turns a lot of religious thought on its head. This prophecy from Zephaniah does not instruct us how to worship properly or provide us with motivation to sing God’s praises for all that God has accomplished on our behalf.
Instead, the prophet Zephaniah, through his prophecy invites us to consider life from the perspective of God. To be sure, there are dire warnings about the kinds of things that provoke God to wrath, and we get a view of certain sins from the perspective of God’s ire. As always, the warnings of the prophets can be avoided if only those who hear the warnings repent and turn from their sins.
And as always, the prophetic utterances which begin with warnings and invitations to repent give way to a future day where the redemptive work of God has been completed and the goodness of Creation is restored. The warnings, if heeded can be avoided. The future blessings are certain, we can have them sooner if we listen to the warnings, if not, we will have to wait longer to realize them.
The prophecy of Zephaniah points to a day where God is present and we, the people that God has redeemed are on the receiving end of songs of praise and thanksgiving. A future day, beyond the one we now live, where God’s love showers us with renewal and refreshment.
Breathe that in.
Believe in that day.
The day where God, overjoyed with bringing the redemption of the people of God to completeness doesn’t slump against anything in exhaustion or drop tools in disgust instead, God breaks forth in songs of joyfulness and sings to us.
Sings of us. Sings for us! Rejoice and be glad! The joy of the Lord will be your strength!
May God bless you, your homes, and families with peace this Advent Season!
-Reverend John Maich