“Sing O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day, they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion do not let your hands hang limp. 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, says the Lord.” (NIV)
The book of Zephaniah opens with the prophet’s warnings about the final day of judgment, and the fate of Judah and Jerusalem because of how far they had wandered from the Lord and His will. Chapter 3 begins with Zephaniah reproving Jerusalem and her leaders for compromising with sin and for allowing the ways of the world to influence the worship of Yahweh. The Israel of Zephaniah’s day sounds very much like the world we live in today, where people have embraced the darkness as light and reject Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
However, God always sets apart a remnant in every generation, and it is to His remnant that He speaks today. Towards the end of the book, we see Zephaniah’s tone change, as God speaks through Him with mercy and kindness. The Lord speaks words of encouragement and blessing to you and me today, as He declares His love and appreciation for the precious blood bought kids He chose. He sees your faith and your faithfulness. He sees your love for the Truth of His Word. He assures you today that His hand is upon you and you need fear for nothing, as you seek to walk with Jesus, and be a light in a dark and dreary world.
The Lord calls us to sing, to shout our praises, and to rejoice in Him with all our hearts. This is easy to do when we remember His goodness in our lives, and that He has broken the power of sin that controlled us. He took the judgment we deserved and released us into a new life of joy and hope! He has defeated the enemy and cast him out of our lives so that we do not have to struggle the way we do. Everything we ever need is found in the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit who abides with us. Almighty God, the King of Israel is with us. He is in our midst. Hallelujah!
The Everlasting Father gives us five promises today through the words of Prophet Zephaniah.
1)You need never fear harm (and unexpected trouble).
2)I will deal with all who oppress and oppose you.
3)I will strengthen you, heal you, and build you up.
4)My favor shall be upon you. (“I will give you honor and praise among the peoples of the earth”).
5)I will restore your fortunes. (What you have lost will come back to you.)
6)I will set you free from the demands of the law and the religious spirits (the burden of the appointed feasts).
Friend, these six promises are a reflection of the abundant life that Jesus died to give us. If we can receive these promises into our hearts today and step into them, our life and walk in God could be completely transformed.
We see a beautiful picture of God as the joyful and loving father “rejoicing” over us with “gladness” and with singing. He is a father who plays games with His kids and enjoys being like a child because this fun time makes His children happy, as He teaches them new tricks and laughs out loud with them! He is a Father who tenderly “quiets” us with His love, in the same way a mother would pick up her crying baby who calms down the moment he is held close in the security of his mother’s arms. Our Abba really does delight in us! He really enjoys His kids and loves to be with them. He is thrilled with their victories and successes, and when they have faith to believe for all the good things He has promised. He smiles when we think that things we succeeded at were our own idea! Daddy God is joyful and laughs with enjoyment when He sees His kids at play and enjoying the adventures of life. Joy is one of the many multi-colored facets of His nature, and that is why we can know a supernatural joy when we are in His presence. The joy of the Lord heals (Proverbs 17:22) and restores and Daddy is calling us to walk in His joy. It is one of the keys to supernatural breakthrough and victory in spiritual warfare.
I believe our Daddy God wants us to begin to see Him for who He is. Religion has taught us to see Him as the God of judgment, fire and brimstone. It has presented the Lord of Love as a cruel and severe school principal who stands over us with a rod of punishment, constantly trying to change us into a better ‘me’, and a jealous God who will burn up His enemies. While it is true that a Holy God cannot look upon sin, He has given us a way to experience forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and come into His righteousness by faith. Many of the Psalms tell us that “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever”. So long as the door of grace remains open, there is room for repentance, restoration and renewal. He is a merciful God! Every good father knows that he has to discipline and guide his kids in the correct path, even while it may hurt him to chasten his kids because he loves them so much. Our Father God is no different, and Hebrews 12:6 tells us that God disciplines those He loves.
This is why Zephaniah calls us to be glad and rejoice, to shout and praise God with real joy and thanksgiving in our hearts. We have a father and He is wonderful! He is the Dad who loves us more than any earthly Father could, the One who fills us with joy, even as He calms and quiets us with His never failing love. We see in our Creator the tender, nurturing nature of a mother, as well as the strength, provision and the protection extended by a father. Open your heart and your hands and receive His love today. Acknowledge that there is nothing you need to do to earn His love. He has done all there is to do through the cross and blood of Jesus. All His promises are for you, and there is nothing you need to fear, if He is near.
Friend, whatever you have been coping with these past days, know that you are not alone. Your Heavenly Father is your protector, your provider, your healer, your strength and your shield. He is all the tender mother love you always needed more of, and the sweet Savior of your soul through the blood of His Son Jesus. He says to you today that you need never fear for anything again. He is with you. He covers you! All He asks is that you open your heart to a fresh revelation of who He is – the awesome, sweet and joyful Daddy who loves you crazily!
Believe this and lay your life at His feet. Believe this and receive His great love for you! Lift up your hands and sing your praises out loud. You will feel His presence and know that He is with you. He says you are worthy of His love. You are precious and beautiful and valuable in His sight. He watches over you as you sleep and He smiles! He sees your heart of love for Him and it makes Him glad. He is doing good things for you. He is bringing back all that was stolen from you. May the orphan spirit be broken off every one of us, as we run into the arms of our faithful Father, in the mighty name of Jesus. May we all know Him for who He is. May we each experience His amazing healing love. Daddy loves His kids and He loves you!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 24 October 2011