Monday, 29 March 2010

Reason to rejoice with ALL your heart!

  '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.'
Zephaniah 3:14-15

I read Zephaniah recently and was just blown away by the grace and mercy that spill out of its pages. It is a story of Judah's rebellion and deserved judgment. Of Jerusalem's mess and corruption and God's just anger against them. And yet it doesn't end like that. Because much more importantly, it is about God. It is about a merciful God who does not treat us as our sins deserve. It is about a God who delights to save and who is mighty to save. And so even though things looked bleak for God's people at the beginning of Zephaniah, we see that God Himself provided the way for them to be saved: 'The Lord has taken away your punishment' (3:15)

The best thing about this book, is the way that it points forward to Jesus. In fact Jesus shines out of every chapter and floods the whole book with glorious hope and joy. There WILL be a day of judgment - and it is what we deserve, Zephaniah makes this plain, but on that day, if we are in Jesus, who is our righteousness,we will be sheltered from the LORD's just anger (2:3). Let us now make sure we are seeking Jesus and His righteousness, for this is all this is all that will matter on that day.

'The LORD has taken away your punishment' (3:15) - shadows that were received joyfully by God's people in the Old Testament give way to the reality as Jesus gloriously secured this for eternity. When Jesus took the judgment we deserve for our sin on Himself on the cross, sinless as He was,  the LORD took away our punishment. If we trust in Jesus, if we are in Him, sheltering in Him, then our punishment has been taken away. And so the promise applies to us:

"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" (3:17)

And so, because we have such security in our forgiveness and acceptance from God, security that rests not on us or anything we have done or even how secure we feel, but in all that Jesus has done on our behalf - we have great reason to rejoice! And we can rejoice with ALL our heart (3:14) because our greatest problem is dealt with for all time, because this can never be taken away from us. Whatever else is happening in our lives, we can rejoice with ALL our hearts because our punishment has been taken away and God delights in us. And this is something that will never change.

 ' Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
       O Daughter of Jerusalem!
  The LORD has taken away your punishment' (3:14-15)

"I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation"
('I Have a Shelter' - Sovereign Grace Music)

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”-
2 Corinthians 5:21