December 2022

‘Be glad and rejoice … when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes

 Zephaniah 3. 14,20 (NIV)


Here is truly heartening ‘saying’ for the season of Advent in which we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will carry us through the season with the expectation of great joy. ‘Be glad and rejoice’ is the injunction from God which is easily understood but not so easy to do or put into practice.


When we look at the context of the words, we find in the short prophesy of Zephaniah a familiar pattern of the Jewish prophets. The first part of the prophesy is about judgement aimed at Judah and Jerusalem, with a more universal application to all nations. There is a serious warning: ‘be silent before the sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near’ (ch1.7). The day of the Lord is spelt out as disastrous with apocalyptic dimensions (ch3.8).


From the force of God’s ‘jealous anger’ there come words of love and consolation to ‘all those who call on the name of the Lord.’ (v9). Anger emanates properly from love. From a human point of view when a parent is angry with their child for bad behaviour, it’s out of love for the child. The child may well be scolded because of the parent’s love and care. It may seem harsh at the time but it will be for the child’s good and correction.


The Lord show’s his love to those who serve him shoulder to shoulder “(v9), the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the Lord (v12). The remnant of Israel who will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.’(v13). Leading to the words ‘be glad and rejoice with all your heart.’ (v14)


The second part of the saying, the last verse of the book and prophesy are amazing words of how God wants to restore the fortunes of his people before their very eyes. He is acknowledging his people, bringing them home and giving them honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth. These were his words to his chosen people of the day and they are his words to us, His people of today. We need to take them to heart, contemplate their meaning.