The Life Project: Zephaniah
"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy;
He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."
Zephaniah is much like the other minor prophecies in the Old Testament. It begins with
doom and gloom; a prophecy of the destruction of the world because of the idolatry and
wickedness of the people. And like the other minor prophecies, God shows up with His
grace and mercy to rescue His people if they will repent.
Zephaniah’s prophecy really does tell us something about God’s character. First I
believe we can remember that God’s character does not change. Throughout the Old
Testament God is consistently outraged by evil. He is consistently disappointed with His
people. God does not ignore our sin. I know that in our grace-filled age, we may feel
like we have gotten away with something. We may feel like “no one has found out”,
“nothing bad has happened”. But know this. The God of the Old Testament is still God
today. He doesn’t change. He recognized the sin of His people then. He recognizes
our sin now. And it is no joke to Him. God takes sin seriously.
And because God doesn’t change, we know that God is also a God who honors
repentance. The whole of Zephaniah chapter 2 is calling His people to repentance.
This call is made over and over in the Old Testament. It is made in the New Testament.
It is made today. Though we screw up and dishonor God, He still desires a repentant
And finally because God doesn’t change, we know God is a God who rejoices over His
people. Zephaniah 3 tells us this. There are countless scriptures in the Old Testament
that tell us this. In the New Testament Jesus tells the Pharisees about His love for
sinners. In Luke 15:7 Jesus has this to say about sinners who are repentant, “I say unto
you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents more than over
ninety-nine just persons, which need no repentance."
We can also learn that God’s salvation comes with love. God
is mighty and He will save.
But He will not save begrudgingly. He is not like the evil stepmother, who does a
kindness and then holds it over your head for the rest of your life. No. God’s salvation
comes with expressions of love. He will rejoice over those whom He saves. He will
rejoice over them with joy. He will rest in His love. He will sing over them.
Another lesson we can take away from Zephaniah is that God’s character is that of a
father. He is both powerful and loving. As a parent I can recall on several occasions
thinking of just how fragile my children were. Especially when they were smaller, I knew
that the slightest thing could injure them. If I were to shake them, or drop them, or
forget to feed them, or just not watch them closely enough, my children could be injured
or worse. I have been struck on many occasions with the great power I hold as a
parent. I have literally held my children’s lives in my hands. But thankfully, as a parent,
God has also given me great love for my children. So although, I could cause them
great harm, my desire is to show them great love. And this is how God is with us. He is
powerful enough to completely destroy the earth, but His desire is to sing over us with
joy, as a parent would their newborn baby.
I am so grateful to serve such a good God; one who is consistently holy, patient,
forgiving and loving. How about you?