Summary: Sin has confiscated us from righteousness. Only Christ can compensate for our penalty.
Margaret and I were debating on titles for last week’s sermon. Same letter adjectives. It started O Rotten Scoundrels, Meet Your Rescuing Savior. Too harsh, she said. How about O Despicable People, Meet Your Divine Power. Too critical, was her comment. Alright, O Worthless Fools, Meet Your Wonderful Father. She said nothing, just the look. Finally we agreed with a more subtle title, straight from NIV – O Shameful Nation, Meet Your Saving God.
Mine was wrath talk. Angry, Reprimanding, Punishing. Hulk like fury, Schwarzenegger like vigor. Her intentions were more tender, patient and correcting.
As our heavenly parent, God our Father though furious towards our relentless sins, He expresses His thoughts lovingly, assuringly and encouragingly. On one hand, the people were clearly deserving God’s judgment. On the other hand, God’s mercy was greater. When we deserve Guilt, God pours out Grace. When we deserve condemnation, God offers salvation. When we deserve death, God died for us so not only will we live, but have everlasting life!
That’s why I didn’t have any problem giving this morning’s sermon its title. O Resplendent God, Meet Your Repentant Servants!
Are you truly repentant?
We need to repent because our lives are contaminated with sin. Sin has confiscated us from righteousness. Only Christ can compensate for our penalty. God is righteous and Christ is the righteous One. So God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be crucified and to be an atonement for our sin.
You have heard about sin. You have been told you sin. But have you knelt down before God to say yes Lord, I am a sinner, take my sin and give me a Savior?
Have you asked God to search your heart? Do you earnestly pray to ask God to change you? Do not let pride keep you from asking for forgiveness. Stop suffering from your sinful condition. God is waiting for us to claim our crown of life (? ? ? ? ?shengmìng de guanmian) James 1:12.
1. When we repent, God fills our new heart with pure joy!
V14 - Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!
Zion and Jerusalem are the same. There is an important divine progression that illustrates Israel’s condition as a physical disposition to a covenantal provision and an advancement into a spiritual dimension.
Zion refers to the physical and material aspects of Jerusalem. The name “Jerusalem” expresses everything that is holy and spiritual.
• Zion means “parched place” – dryness, drought, desert, wilderness, barren
• Israel – “God prevails” – the second name for Jacob given to him by God after his wrestling with the angel at Peniel ? ? ? ( ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? )
• Jerusalem – “teaching of peace” Yarah (throw/cast) shalam (peace) – City of Peace.
Daughter implies that God is a loving father. He cherishes and loves His people, even while they reject Him. By using the metaphor “daughter of Zion,” God showed how He felt for the rebellious Israelites: frustrated, angry, but always with an eye to the future when the relationship would be restored, and He could once again return to them and welcome them into His arms (gotquestions.org/daughter-of-Zion.html)
That is why we sing – making joyful noise. That is why we shout – declaring His glory. We do it with wholehearted gladness and rejoicing because Jesus Christ has fully restored our brokenness to make those who were once undesired to have new relationship with the Father through His Son.
2. When we repent, God replaces our fears with peace!
Can there be peace? In this land? In this heart?
V15-16 The LORD, the King of Israel (those who have struggled with God and men and prevailed), is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. ? ? ? ? !? ? ? ?!(shouruan)
The Word of God that came to Zephaniah is just as relevant in 640 B.C. as it is in 2016. One of the headlines on CNN yesterday was “America is mourning”. America is at war with itself. Another headline asks, “Who Can Heal America?” Then there was a picture of Obama (center), Hillary (left) and Trump (right).
Who can heal America? Who can heal our families? Who can heal our church? The answer – Jesus Christ.
The LORD is with you, but are you with the LORD? Dare I ask in these dark days - Is our country with the LORD?
That is why last week we read about how we should gather together. We must seek the Lord, seek righteousness, and seek humility. Do not let your hands hang limp. Do not pretend like it doesn’t affect us and therefore we do not bother doing anything! We are part of this country, a nation which is mourning. V3 last week says, Seek the Lord all you humble (needy, in distress) of the land, you who do what he commands – that’s us! Do not let your hands hang limp. Lift up your hands in prayer to God; lift up your hands to help yourself (Matthew Henry). Our hands are weak because our hearts are faint ? ? (ruanruo).