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God In Your Midst: Zephaniah

Waterfall in the midst of scenery, reflecting the presence of the living God within us.
Photo Credit: Mark Shutt

May 24, 2023

Praying Partners,

Thank you for praying each Wednesday for revival and for our prodigals. Our God is present with us. He is in our midst!

Little is known about Zephaniah other than what is given in the first verse of his prophecy. He was a prince of the royal house of Judah because of his ancestor Hezekiah. He lived during the time of good King Josiah.

Josiah took office as king when he was only 16 years old and sparked a revival in Judah. He eliminated the pagan altars and images, becoming one of Judah’s most beloved kings. The ministry of Zephaniah was a large part of this revival under King Josiah. He presented God both as severe and loving (Zephaniah 1:2, 3:17).

Zephaniah contains several significant prophesies:

  • Judgment would come upon those who were complacent and turned from God (Zephaniah 1:12).

  • In a future day, people everywhere would worship the awesome God of Israel (Zephaniah 2:11).

  • A loyal remnant would be rescued to serve the LORD (Zephaniah 3:12).

Scattered throughout his book are 6 commands from the LORD that give context to God’s plan and character. There are lessons for us to learn from each of them.

First, God told them to be silent! “Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests” (Zephaniah 1:7 ESV).

Because God’s people turned away from Him, He announced that judgment was coming and He wanted their attention. Twice over in this chapter he reminded them that the day of the LORD is near (Zephaniah 1:7, 14).

The command to be silent wasn’t just a command to stop talking, but rather to “Be silent before the Lord.” God wanted them to turn their attention to Him.

Then, God instructed them to wail! “Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar! For all the traders are no more; all who weigh out silver are cut off” (Zephaniah 1:11).

These are the ones who lived in dishonesty and violence. It was a reminder that God sees all of the injustices and will act in His time and way.

Sometimes we despair as we look at the sin all around us running rampant and seemingly uncontrolled. There will come a day when wrongs will be made right!

Third, God reminded them to gather together! “Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation” (Zephaniah 2:1).

This was a gracious call from God to His people to repent and return to the LORD.

God’s patience is great and His mercy is abundant. There was still time for His wayward, shameless people to return and gather themselves together before Him.

Then, God commanded them to seek! “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3).

While the land was full of proud people seeking their own ways, there was a remnant among them, and God was calling them to live for Him in difficult times (Zephaniah 2:7). Three things are mentioned that they needed to seek: the LORD, righteousness, and humility.

The same is true for us today. The words of Paul to Timothy are similar. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Next, God directed them to wait! “‘Therefore wait for me,’ declares the LORD, ‘for the day when I rise up to seize the prey’” (Zephaniah 3:8).

The context is that God would punish His people's enemies. Waiting on God was not easy. It never is! It is tempting to move forward without God and without His mind.

To wait on God is not inactivity, it is faith. It is to believe that God’s timing is best.

Lastly, God gave them permission to sing! “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem” (Zephaniah 3:14).

God was calling His people to sing and rejoice because the judgments had been taken away and their enemies removed (Zephaniah 3:15).

As they looked ahead, beyond the looming captivity, to a future day, He told them not to fear or let their hands grow weak, because He was in their midst (Zephaniah 3:16-17). He was the mighty one, and the one who would be their deliverer. He would bring it all to pass.

The God of Zephaniah is our God!

His words are worth repeating, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

As you meditate on the phrases of this text and the implications for a future blessed people, consider the present reality for you today.

He is with you! He can save you! He rejoices over you with a glad heart. His love can calm you in your present need. He delights in you with a voice of singing!

What we experience today as the people of God will be multiplied to its fullest degree in a future day when all His people are gathered to Himself, and our Lord and King sits upon the throne of David (Zephaniah 3:19-20).

Love in Christ,

Bryan and Rachel


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