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 3:17
Often I am privileged to visit various care and retirement centers throughout the metropolitan area with a team from our church. We sing Gospel hymns, read Scripture verses, share our testimonies, and pray with the residents. Many times we are asked to do favorites such as “In the Garden,” “Precious Memories,” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” As we sing the songs requested, smiles break out, tears start to fall, and many of the residents join in on the words of the old hymns right along with us.
Our hearts, too, are blessed with joy as we share God’s love with these elderly folk. As we sing, we look out over the aging faces and wonder if they know the Lord. I really believe we are spreading joy to them by singing God’s praises, for the residents and care providers often tell us how much our singing means to them. Sometimes when we are about ready to leave, they ask us to sing again one of the songs we just sang a few minutes earlier. We always oblige, for we understand that singing is a form of communication that touches the heart and soul, bringing love and joy to the singer as well as the listener.
Imagine what it will be like to have the Lord joy over us with singing! Jesus will return and sing with joy over His people as He gathers us from around the world. We will not be afraid. Our troubles will be over for Jesus will live and reign among us. What a glorious time this will be! May we all one day be a part of God’s grand choir, and as we sing God’s praises now, let us anticipate that day!
In our focus verse, the prophet Zephaniah was offering hope to Judah. His reason for writing was to warn the people to turn away from their idol worship and disobedience to God, and to urge them to return to the God of their forefathers. Josiah, the king of Judah at this time, was trying to change the evil trends established by the two previous kings. Zephaniah’s prophecy may have helped Josiah’s reform.
After predicting the destruction of surrounding nations in chapter 2, Zephaniah began chapter 3 by telling of Jerusalem’s great sins. The people were accused of not listening to God or trusting Him and participating in evil deeds, even though they professed devotion to God. Even the rulers of the city were full of evil doings. The supposed prophets did not proclaim God’s word; instead they only preached what the people wanted to hear.
The message of doom in the beginning of the chapter became a message of hope in verse 9, as the prophet declared God’s salvation and deliverance for those who will be faithful to Him. Instead of calling on false gods, he foretold that the people will call upon the living God. When that day comes — an event still in the future — they will have “a pure language” (they will no longer use oaths or offer prayers to idols). Their sins will be forgiven, and their hearts cleansed. The Gentiles will serve the Lord with the scattered Israelites who will return to their land. Finally the Jews will recognize their Messiah and be at peace. Christ will rule over their nation and all will worship Him.
All the people will sing and shout because God has taken away their punishment, defeated their enemies, and come to dwell with them. They will sing because He will guarantee that they will never be afraid again. God will sing over His people also with great joy. His people, the Jews, will be restored to their homeland, and their land will be fruitful as they are given a new start. They will forget their past disobediences and praise the Lord.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The day of Jehovah’s judgment
D. Judgment upon Jerusalem (3:1-7)
1. The causes (3:1-4)
2. The warnings (3:5-7)
E. Judgment upon all the earth (3:8)
III. The day of Jehovah’s restoration (3:9-20)
A. The restoration of the nations (3:9)
B. The restoration of Israel (3:10-20)
1. The regathering (3:10)
2. The redemption and rest (3:11-13)
3. The rejoicing (3:14)
4. The ruler (3:15-17)
5. The reward (3:18-20)
Just as the Lord will one day restore the Jewish nation that brought shame and disgrace to His name, so He will forgive us if we have strayed away from Him. When we come to Jesus with a repentant heart, He will love us, forgive us, and sing over us with joy!