“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Zephaniah 3:14 (NASB).
There are some days when rejoicing is the last thing we want to do. You know, the days when you find out your job is not as secure as you thought, or the days when you lose a loved one, or the days when you realize your child has chosen a very dangerous path.
It is hard to rejoice when people seem so divided, or when the enemy seems to be at the gate, or even when we are just worried about keeping our home. Yes, there are days when rejoicing is the last thing that we want to do. And it is on those days that God commands us to do just that: to rejoice out loud.
The Israelites lived in a time of uncertainty about who was really their friend or their foe. They did everything they thought they needed to in order to fit into the world around them; and unfortunately, their methods meant turning from God. When the prophet Zephaniah shared these words of the Lord, he had just finished prophesying about God’s impending judgement and punishment on those who sinned against Him. In fact, the first 80 percent of the book is nothing but bad news about horrible things that will happen to the Israelites as a result of their poor decisions. And then suddenly, after all that, God commands them to rejoice; how strange.
The prophet Jeremiah, a contemporary of Zephaniah, wrote the book of Lamentations after the Israelites were taken into exile as God had told them would happen. He began by observing, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer” (Lamentations 1:1 NASB)! Jeremiah continued on to lament the tragedies that had stricken his people. He mourned for their loss and mourned for his own losses as well.
And in the midst of lamenting the tragedies in his own life Jeremiah declared, “I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:20-22 NIV).
The Lord’s great love will never fail! He will never forsake His people. And so, in the midst of fear, confusion, oppression, division, or mourning, we can, in fact, rejoice because God will not fail to bring justice into the world. We can shout in triumph because God has already defeated death. Our deepest being can find joy in the darkest moments because God is the God who brings life where death reigns and speaks light to consume the darkness.
So rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord and know that He is good.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!