Is Your Soul at Rest? Please Ponder These Word . . .
Please enjoy the Gospel as found in the “Leather Journal” of Pastor Phil Newton of the South Woods Baptist Church Memphis, TN. You can find other church ministries at https://www.southwoodsbc.org/leadership This is brought to by The Inverted Christian found at https://www.invertedchristian.com/
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. . .. Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors, I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth . . . even at the time when I gather you together” (Zephaniah 3:14–20).
The prophecy of Zephaniah, one of the more obscure of the Minor Prophets probably due to its preponderance of judgments against nations, has at its crescendo a wonderful promise of Christ coming as King. Written during the kingship of Judah’s exceptional King Josiah, this royal descendant of King Hezekiah (making him a distant relative of Josiah), collapses God’s judgments against Judah and the nations that oppressed and attacked her. The time of Josiah was a respite from much of the oppressiveness of the surrounding nations. But it didn’t last long, as his sons plunged Judah back into rebellion and idolatry, with oppression on its heels.
The book begins with what appears to be judgment on the earth—at least the NASB translation supplies a word to give that impression (1:2–3). But the balance narrows the judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem (1:4–2:3) before expanding to surrounding nations. Since the Babylonians are not mentioned by name while the Assyrians and Nineveh who destroyed Israel are, it appears that the instrument of judgment in this context is Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. His destruction devasted Judah and leveled Jerusalem, while including surrounding nations of the Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria (2:4–15). He returns again to specify the reasons Jerusalem would fall in judgment: rebellion, defiled in every way, refused to listen to prophetic warnings to repent, resisted instruction, abandoned trusting in the Lord, oppression by its leaders who were to shepherd and serve, false prophets and corrupt priests. The result would be total ruin (3:1–7). But judgment would have its effect upon the remnant of God’s people responding with purified lips, calling upon the name of the Lord, and serving Him together. There’s even indication that this remnant of gathered worshipers will include the nations outside of Israel (3:9–11). Then the Messianic promise unfolds as a redeemed people (3:12–13).
In 3:14–15, the reason for the hope amidst the warning of judgment is found in the Lord’s gracious action: “The Lord has taken away His judgments against you.” For this reason, rather than the despondency of judgment, there is rejoicing, shouts of joy, exultation in the Lord’s mercies triumphing among His people And how will this happen? “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more” (3:15). We think of the angel announcing His Kingship at the incarnation, Immanuel—“God with us,” and then to the shepherds and wise men at Jesus’ nativity. We think of Jesus announcing the kingdom of God had come, calling for repentance and believing the gospel. We think of the King entering Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. And then, to take away the judgment, the King in their midst took upon Himself divine judgment and bore it away at the cross. Then this crucified King rose triumphant from the grave to be seated as the Eternal King over a kingdom that never ends! He is our victorious warrior who exults over us with joy, so that we may rest quietly in His love, hearing His joy in gathering His people in all their weakness and shame to be a praise to His name (3:17–20). The King in our midst answers this prophetic word in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us find quiet rest in the assurance that the King has come and is gathering His people who will live with Him forever.