Our Comforting God
Lord, You are the author of my joy, the bearer of my pain. I come now to worship and adore You.
Read Zephaniah 3:14-20
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
As we finish Zephaniah, reflect on the God who is intimately involved with his creation, who comes in justice and grace.
The opening and the closing verses of Zephaniah present an amazing contrast. In the space of three short chapters we have moved from a picture of inevitable, cataclysmic judgment to one of gentle and loving restoration. It is tempting to iron out the tension between these two apparently conflicting views of God. The better way is to follow Scripture and live with the tension. It reminds us that God is mysterious and that we can never fully comprehend him. God is both perfect love and perfect justice.
The picture is one of almost unbearable tenderness. The awesome judge of the nations comforts his people with love and gently sings over them (17). It brings to mind a mother with a distressed child. In the midst of a world that is about to fall apart, the prophet looks beyond to renewed creation and the restored people of God. The word is, “Do not fear” (16). We are reminded of Isaiah (Isa. 43:1-7) and of Jesus’ words to frightened disciples (John 14:27). We can face the future with confidence, knowing that whatever happens, beyond the pain and uncertainty, beyond the sense of shame and failure, a new heaven and new earth await where God comforts suffering people (Rev. 7:15-17).
For Zephaniah’s contemporaries the thought of home (20) meant return to the land; for Christian readers, home is different. We are at home when we are with God, in the present or the future, in this age or in the age to come. Our orientation is of the lost son coming to his senses and heading home to the Father. The Lord our God is with us (17); we think of Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy and its fulfillment in Jesus (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23). God is with us now in ways that Zephaniah could not have predicted, and there is more to come.
What is the most important thing you have learned from Zephaniah? What life-changing application are you making?
Heavenly Father, You are the God of great surprises. There is always something new in the future. I look forward to today, awaiting what is in store for me.
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