Summary: God is not controlling as Satan would have us believe. He's with us to protect us and in fact sings over us. That's reason for us to rejoice!
How many Christmas hymns, carols, and songs are there? Do you have any idea? Our hymnal has 35 Christmas hymns while Wikipedia lists 77 Christmas carols that are unique to the English language. But it’s not just English speakers who celebrate Christmas. Germans, Norwegians, Ukrainians, Spaniards, the people of Africa and Asia and many other nationalities all have carols of their own. The total number of Christmas songs must be in the hundreds maybe even thousands, though it doesn’t seem as if anyone has bothered to count.
We may not know how many Christmas songs there are, but we each know which our favorites are. Hopefully we’ll sing your favorites over the Christmas season here in church. But even if we don’t, even if this turns out to be the worst Christmas ever because you don’t get the presents you want, or because you get sick, or because you can’t spend Christmas with the family like you usually do, even then you still have good reason to rejoice and lift your voice in praise. That’s what our final Tweet from Heaven and this last sermon on the Old Testament book of Zephaniah teaches us this morning.
In order to fully appreciate this last section of Zephaniah, we need to do a quick review of this Old Testament book. You’ll remember that Zephaniah was a prophet who worked during the time of good king Josiah. Although Josiah was intent on serving the Lord, many of his people were not. In the first chapter of Zephaniah, God thundered against those who praised him one minute, but then the next minute were worshipping false gods. Others had become complacent in their faith. They had become more concerned about staying up with the latest fashions and fads than keeping up with their faith. God was not going to stand idly by as these things happened. He said through Zephaniah: “I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth” (Zephaniah 1:17).
Do you ever feel like God overreacts? When he said, “Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth” (Zephaniah 1:17b), doesn’t he sound like a professional wrestler who is screaming into the microphone about what he intends to do to his opponent when they step into the ring together? But no one thinks that professional wrestlers are serious. It’s all part of the act. It’s a theatrical ranting to keep you from switching channels. But God was not being overly dramatic. He was telling the people of Jerusalem about the punishment that really awaited them if they did not turn from their sins. And this is the kind of eternal punishment that awaits all those who relegate the one true God to a back room in their life.
But if your daughter had a boyfriend like that, one who seemed so controlling, wouldn’t you advise her to get out of that relationship? That’s how Satan wants us to view our relationship with God. But that wasn’t the way Zephaniah saw the situation at all. Listen to how he began our text for today. “Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:14, 15).