Now in verses 14-17 we see not only is God going to bring a restoration, but there will be a new song, there will be rejoicing! He says,
14 Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more. 16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. 17 The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Sing! Shout! Be glad and rejoice! After judgment comes salvation – after the day of judgment comes the gathering together of the people of God around the throne forever in the new heavens and the new earth and do you think we will be quiet? Reverent – yes. But quiet? The Lord, as our King, will be in our midst and there will be no more disaster, and the word there for disaster means evil. Wickedness will be no more.
The word “Shout” here is a battle cry of victory. Jesus has won. Now…every head bowed, every eye closed, let’s silently meditate….NO – Shout to the Lord!
Imagine the roar of the crowd when their team wins the big game, or makes an amazing play. I’ve heard noise like this at a Chicago Cubs game. The bases were loaded and there was 1 out and the Cubs were about to lose it all, how could they get out of the inning. And they made an incredible double play and I have never heard a noise like that before in my life. Imagine then the victory shout of the people of God when the last enemy, death, is destroyed forever! Amen?
Imagine the noise of the people of God praising Him without hindrance. Without doubt. Without fear. Let us confess that all too often we are excited, passionate, or noisy, about things in life that we should not actually be all that excited about! But as a believer, because of the gospel and its power, we need to sing, and we need to shout, and we need to rejoice – evidence of emotion and passion. If we can coldly, calmly, and collectively sing praises to the God who saved us from death, and wrath, and hell then we just may not get what it means that God has given us the victory through Christ.
We are to love and worship Him will all we are, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Decently and in order, to be sure, but don’t hold anything back! Please don’t let the abuses of some make us afraid to be passionate in our worship of God! There are times that we cheer more for kids on a field playing games than we cheer over the victory over sin, temptation, and death that we have been given by Jesus Christ. We are afraid to be noisy!
Remember, this worship, this noise of rejoicing, it has as its backdrop judgment. Look at the severity of judgment. Now look at the depths of His love and grace. That should generate a little excitement, shouldn’t it?
Here is our reason to rejoice, “The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy.” Every penalty, every wage earned by our sin, Jesus paid it all. God has taken away our judgment and put it on another. Paul says it this way in Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The handwriting of requirements against us – the judgments, the debt we owed – it has been wiped out, nailed to the cross! It’s done!
And here we see not just the removal of wrath, but the defeat of our enemy. We see Satan disarmed. He has cast out our enemy. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12).
Satan is a defeated, retreating foe. While any wounded animal may still be dangerous, we must remember that Satan has lost. And if that is not enough, God says the King of Israel is in our midst. He says, “16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. 17 The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save;”
And look – we see why we have reason to rejoice. We see, I hope we see and understand why it is we should sing and shout and rejoice and praise the Lord. But here in verse 17, look at Who else has a reason to rejoice. “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Look at this – after judgment, when Creation is restored and renewed, God is the one rejoicing!
We have gone from the most terrifying description of judgment in chapter 1 to the most exhilarating descriptions of God’s love for us in chapter 3. Look here at the love of God for His people. Our God, the Mightiest Warrior, who has defeated our enemy and claimed us for Himself, He will save us. He has saved us!
These next three lines, one commentator says, “express the deepest inner joy and satisfaction of God Himself in His love for His people.” (NICOT Commentary on Zephaniah, O. Palmer Robertson, pg. 339).
God rejoicing over you with gladness.
God quietly contemplating you with love.
God rejoicing and singing over you.
Now we preach a God focused message here, but let’s understand, that does not mean that there is nothing to say about what He thinks about us. It says here God will be rejoicing over us with gladness. He will be quietly contemplating us with His love. He will be rejoicing and singing over us. Can you imagine the glory of God rejoicing in His accomplished purposes as we stand around the Throne and praise Him and He joins in the singing and rejoicing because we are there with Him? Would you have imagined that God can praise Himself? And this is what He does. He praises Himself for us and what He has accomplished in saving us.
In Numbers 23:21 we find the basis for God’s rejoicing in His work of salvation, “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.” In Zechariah 9:9-10 we read, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.’”
In the coming of Christ we find reasons for rejoicing. Reasons on earth. Reasons in heaven! And because He has come and will come we need not be afraid. And we need not be weak. He says, “Let not your hands be weak.” Don’t grow weary in obedience. Hebrews 12:12-13 says, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” While we wait for this time of great rejoicing, shouting, and singing, we wait, and we guard against growing weak and tired.
This is our work here and now in the church. Paul describes the work this way, in the context of the second coming, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thess. 5:14).
Remember, as we have discussed before, to warn the unruly means to warn those who are “out of ranks.” It is a term for someone who is marching out of step and referred to those who did not show up to work. Warn those!
Comfort the fainthearted. Give hope to the struggling. We would much rather just squash the struggling, wouldn’t we? We see someone struggling and you know why they are struggling – well obviously it is because they don’t have enough faith! NO! Comfort the fainthearted.
Uphold the weak – literally hold them up. Don’t just help them bear their burdens, but carry them if needed.
And be patient with all. With ALL. Ugh. This is perhaps the most difficult. But this is how we guard against growing weary. We help each other in the body.