I grew up on the prairies of North Dakota in a small town where we enjoyed the possibility of winter about nine months out of the year. Spring was always a time of expectation and many years it waited too long to appear. When the sun’s warmth melted the snow and the first flowers and rhubarb (my favorite spring treat) would finally make their appearance, life took on a new dimension. We moved from the dreariness that accompanies the “same old, same old” of winter to the possibility and hope that we would be warm again.
The reading from the book of Zephaniah carries with it an expectation by God’s people that the misery of the past, which had clouded the future, would be erased. (v.16) The event that would change everything was a simple declaration that the Lord God would come into their desperate situation and make His presence known by His might and the power to save His people. (v.17a) The promise is not a flippant declaration, but is filled with very specific things that God’s presence does. God will rejoice at being with His people. He will calm their anxiety with his love and through loud singing He will make clear (as if to remind them) that He is overjoyed at the possibility of having relationship with His people. (v.17b)
As we look to the birth of the Christ child, the picture that Zephaniah portrays in these verses is an image we ought to consider. The innocent birth of a child will become a clear and exuberant display of a God who loves His people so fully, that He will come Himself, as a mighty God who can save us from every broken dimension of our lives. That love for a broken people will come in power and in silent unseen ways.
Vice President, ChildHope
Prayer: Like the people of Israel so many years ago, we need you to show up in the middle of our lives. Today, O Lord, I long to see your promise to be mighty, proclaimed through Zephaniah, being fulfilled in my life.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 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.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.