One of my favorite passages from my study on joy was Zephaniah 3. I actually worked through the whole book, but the good stuff is in chapter 3. This book is God’s promise that judgement is coming on Judah, as well as the nations. “Zephaniah” means God hides. Chapter 3 reminds us that there is always a remnant of God’s people. The ones who have been faithful and have not compromised or drifted away from the Lord. As I thought about the man God used to deliver this message, and the meaning of his name, I was reminded that there are always servants of God, though sometimes they seem hidden away. And I thought about how God is able to hide us from the trouble and the judgement, if we have been faithful.
This book opens with a declaration of man’s apathy in chapter 1 verse 12. Basically the people were saying “God is not involved in the affairs of men.” Yet God says, “I am in your midst” in chapter 3, verses 5, 15, 17. This is comforting to me when I go through difficult times – God is right there with me in the midst of it all.
Chapter 3 is really full of amazing truths. I know that it is written to Israel, but we can draw principles from the truth of this passage. When God brings back the remnant (when He restores them – sometimes our sin drives us away from God but He can restore us again), they will sing & shout (3:14), they will be glad and rejoice (3:14), they will realize that the Lord is in the midst of them (3:15), they will not fear (3:16), and they will be diligent (3:16).
Here are some things I see about the Lord in this chapter:
- He is in my midst v.17
- He will rejoice over me v.17
- He will save v.17
- He will rest in His love v.17
- He will joy over me with singing v.17
- He will gather us together v.18
- He will undo the affliction v.18
- He will save v.19
- He will get praise and fame for those who were afflicted and driven away v.19
- He will bring us again (restore) v.20
- He will make us a name (restore) v.20
These promises are so precious. I can choose to live in disobedience and suffer judgment; or I can choose to be faithful and wait for the Lord to bring His plan to pass (3:8). I can continue to trust in the Lord (3:12), I can leave my “enemies” to the Lord to deal with (3:15). I can continue to work for the Lord even when the future seems unknown (3:16). And then – the promises of verse 17! He is with me, and He will save me, and when I am faithful even in these difficult or trying times, He will rejoice over me. I can bring joy to my God. His love for me will be seen and the fruit of it reaped whe I return His love in faithful living. Not only does He give me joy (3:14), but I can bring joy to Him through my life!