“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV)
“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.
The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes.” Zephaniah 3:17-20 (NIV)
Zephaniah’s prophecy begins with words of of certain judgment filled with horrible consequences and punishments for the sins of the people of Judah. His words are frightening as Zephaniah speaks of God sweeping away everything in the land and completely destroying it. It seemed that there was no hope at all. This terrible day was coming soon and it will be a day of darkness and gloom. His listeners most certainly felt fear, depression, and doom.
In the middle of these words of destruction there was a whispered promise of encouragement and incredible hope. All the humble in the land, all those who do as He commands should continue to seek the Lord, despite the pending doom approaching. They are to seek righteousness, humility and perhaps they will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
In the finale is a crescendo of hope for all of the people who are faithful to Him. The message is clear to the faithful. Even though there will be difficulties now at this present moment, there will come a time of rejoicing! God’s amazing message of hope includes words of love and singing! He will judge those who have mistreated his people and he will purify his own, removing sin and evil forever. He will gather the people home and bring restoration, forgiveness, incredible grace and they will live with Him forever.
These words of Zephaniah are such an encouragement to me and they contain reminders that I desperately need to hear.
There is so much difficulty and trials in life that tempt me to just throw in the towel and just give up. I am watching people I love and care about lose their jobs and their homes. I see families of loved ones and friends breaking apart in ugly divorce. I turn on the news and hear about how doomed we are with a crumbling economy and the threat of war and terrorism right outside my home. I worry about my children, my home, my future. The list is endless and the world tempts me to just throw in the towel and drown in hopelessness and despair because it seems so overwhelming at times. I often hold on to just a slight glimmer of hope that gives me the strength and the courage to persevere and press on.
Thankfully, God has given His Word to me. It is in passages such as this that I am reminded that God has a purpose for absolutely everything, even the things that bring discouragement, depression, hopelessness and despair. God’s words spoken through the prophet Zephaniah, take me on a life journey, through the terrible darkness of judgment, sin and suffering into a beautiful new day of hope, restoration and magnificent light. He does this because of His incredible, matchless and unfailing love that He has for me.
My eyes are soaked with tears of abounding joy as I type these words. My God has paid the awful penalty of my sin by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to take my place. He did this for me!! He loves me and now, because of what He has done, I have a hope and I can rest in His love. He allows me to see this love clearly manifested in the pages of His Word, as I hear Him say to me that despite my sin, He is with me and His is mighty to save. He is taking delight in me and quieting me with His love and rejoicing over me with singing, not because of what I have done, but because of what He has done. His love is real! It is so completely perfect and I am left with no other response than to humbly and graciously thank Him and ascribe praise and adoration to my King and Savior. How awesome He is!
O God, I am overwhelmed by how awesome you are! You are so merciful and so completely holy and good. Your covenant of love is so amazing and timeless! You have loved me long before I was even born into this world and your love stretches ahead into eternity! How great and wonderful and truly amazing you are!
Forgive me, Lord, for those times of darkness in my life. Forgive me for those times when I fail to set my mind and my heart on eternity with you. Thank you for your reminder that I read in your words given to me through your prophet Zephaniah. I will cling to that day with all of my heart, that glorious day of incredible rejoicing when you gather your people (and me) home to be with you forever. That day is coming when I will become like you for I will see you as you are! You will bring me to yourself and it will be a glorious day! I do not even know how I will be able to contain such incredible joy in my heart but you will do it!
Until then Lord, I will continue to dwell in this land, even though it is so painful to be in sometimes. I will trust in you, Lord, that one day, I know that I will thank you for every trial and every heartache and every burden that you have had me face in this life, for I know and I trust that you are fabricating and orchestrating all things for your glory, which ultimately is for my own good. You are in control of everything and you have woven this heart and this life into a beautiful masterpiece that is all for you. I need to pray, because I am human and my heart tends to wander, so I pray that you always remind me, no matter how difficult life gets, that I have a hope in you.
I love you and praise you with everything I am. Take this existence and use me for your glory, Lord! I am yours!