Text: Zeph. 3:14-20
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
As we move through Advent together we look to the joy of the coming Christ child, and the gifts he continues to give us as we wait for his glorious return.
In his message, Zephaniah the prophet speaks of the joy that Jerusalem would enjoy after God’s judgment. The people of Judah had not obeyed the Lord nor drawn near to him being - rebellious and defiled - and the leaders of the people, those officials within her borders who were both public officials and religious leaders who acted as roaring lions; and calling them evening wolves [who] leave nothing till the morning Zep3:3
This sounds like today doesn’t it?
I would say we see this during a political election year like we’ve just experienced - but it never seems to end. When one election cycle concludes the next election cycle begins. There seems to be no peace or rest. But in comfort … Zephaniah reassures Jerusalem.
The LORD within her is righteous;
he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
each dawn he does not fail;
but the unjust knows no shame. Zeph. 3:5
For you and me, those who also are unjust and know no shame, the work of John the Baptist rings clear.
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
The prophet Zephaniah, whose name means "Jehovah Hides" proclaims God’s word and will, to those who need to hear. To those who neither know the Lord nor have been brought to faith by his working it is only a word of condemnation. But God’s chosen, after repentance is worked in them, will be comforted.
Judgments will be removed, and enemies will be vanquished. The Lord will be in their midst.
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. Zeph. 3:17b
There is a difference between forgiveness and restoration. Some wrongly assume that saying you’re sorry is enough. Sounds like the apologies we hear at times doesn’t it?
A truly restored relationship requires recognizing and confessing guilt and real repentance which may very well include restitution when possible.
K. Edward Skidmore - Sermon Central
Zephaniah’s comfort was intended for his hearers when he said:
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
Just as Jesus proclaimed to the two disciples of John:
22 … “Go … tell John what you have seen and what you've heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Luke 7 :22-23
But the greater reality of these two proclamations God intends for you and for me.
Those carried into exile in Babylon were comforted that Jerusalem would be restored and Ezra restored God’s word and Nehemiah helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem – as we studied this past fall - but God reminds us all the full restoration would come in Christ as the promised Messiah who would save his people from their sin and make a way where there was no way. Through the child that took on flesh and became man we have access to the Father and have peace with God.
The early church also learned this lesson through Peter’s preaching.
In chapter 3 of the book of Acts, Peter calls those who could hear his call to:
19 Repent therefore, [you hearers] and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Acts 3:19-21
We look forward to beginning the Acts study in the New Year.
As you wait this Advent for the coming Christ child and his blessed second coming remember that you are his, through the washing of regeneration because:
Christ loved [his body] the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, [making her holy] having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
You are cleansed because the Lord has made you his by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit and in that:
In Christ, you are redeemed!
In the name of the Father and in the Son + and in the Holy Spirit.