Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Lord your God is in your midst

Zepaniah 3:14  Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15  The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16  On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17  The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18  as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19  I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20  At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

Zephaniah is thought to be a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, and like Jeremiah he prophesied against the corruption and apostasy of the descendants of Abraham – both in Judah and in Israel. Having noted that they would be judged for their failure to live a life worthy of Godly people, Zephaniah then concludes his dire warnings with a song of hope: the Lord God will restore the strength of his people and will sing over them with joy. In addition to expressing his love for the remnant who survives the judgement, he will recover the lame, the outcast and all who were shamed by their defeat.... and their blessings will be restored.  

This is so often the pattern of our relationship with out Creator: words of warning mixed in with words of encouragement. When we strut the earth as if we are accountable to nobody, we need to hear God’s warning of our impending fall; but when we are bruised and hurting, we can hear God’s words of encouragement and blessing.  Christmas is the moment when we discover, like Zephaniah, that the “The LORD, your God, is in your midst” (Ch3:17). Let us be chastened if we ignore Him, and be encouraged if we are longing for Him.  

To Sing 
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee
is mighty, is mighty.
He will save and rejoice over thee
with joy, with joy.
He will rest in his love,
He will joy over thee with singing.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee
is mighty, is mighty, is mighty.
Tapu Moala 1972 Scripture in Song

First Sunday in Advent
1. The Lord is Coming
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 14.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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