The book of Zephaniah is about judgement and, like many prophecies relating to this theme, it is not comfortable reading. The book climaxes with the appearing of the King who judges the evil which has been done and leaves a humble and lowly people who will take refuge in the name of the Lord (v12). This people have some characteristics which lead us to think about their King.
The first characteristic of this people is holiness. They will have purified lips (v9) with which they will call on the name of the Lord. They will ‘serve Him shoulder to shoulder’ (v9) indicating a total commitment to His cause. Not only that but they will also ‘feel no shame because of all your deeds…for I will remove them from your midst’ (v11). In addition, this remnant will ‘do no wrong and tell no lies’ (v13).
The second characteristic is joy. The people will shout for joy in triumph and will rejoice and exult with all their heart (v14). The reason for this joy is threefold: firstly, salvation both from judgment and their enemies (v15a), secondly, the clearing away of enemies (v15b), and thirdly, security because ‘the King of Israel is in your midst’ and so they have no need to fear anymore (v15c).
The third characteristic is restoration. It is interesting to note that this people will include the lame and the outcast (v19). It seems that the King is not in the business of restoring the fortunes of the elite but instead will take those who are ashamed and bring them praise and renown (v19). And the praise and renown is ‘in all the earth’ (v19). God doesn’t do things in half measure!
The fourth characteristic is the presence of the King. Twice it is promised that the King will be in the midst of His people (vv15, 17) giving flashbacks to the idea of the Tabernacle and God dwelling amongst His people. But the King will be among them as a mighty warrior who also sings quietly over them with His love and rejoices over them with shouts of joy.
This paints a beautiful picture of the aim of Jesus’ work. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to restore the fortunes of many. He came to bring freedom from sin and create a holy people. And He came so that He could dwell among His people in victory and joy so they could be a people who enjoy His presence.
Further reading: 1 Peter 2:4-12
To think about:
To what extent would you say that these four characteristics are present in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit for help in developing these characteristics.
|Journal page by Bernice|
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