Our first installment, post-publication(!), so what better time to get on ‘the same page’ and post the June 3rd entry, which comes to us from Alex Large:
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:14-17, ESV)
Warnings don’t work with my daughter. Granted, she’s less than two years old, and I tend to expect more mature behavior during mealtime, but every meal it’s the same. My wife reminds me that this is what kids her age do—throw food rather than eat it—and so I grimace forgiveness, but it doesn’t come easy. Despite wanting to put limits on how often I can let her bad behavior slide, I am forced to relent.
Zephaniah, and really most of the prophets, do a pretty good job relaying God the Angry Father. And it’s generally for the right reasons: Israel is behaving badly, and God tells them this with specific examples. The warnings, however justified, never seem to work, though; God’s children continue to disobey, and God throws His hands up, passing over their sin once again.
Nothing has changed: we, too, are repeat offenders. We’ve done it enough times to know full well right from wrong, and yet knowing this doesn’t change our intent. After yet another repeated inner-judgment, another passive-aggressive comment at your spouse, another ignored call, we hear from God that “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you” (3:15). He could judge, but He doesn’t. There’s no “Shape up or ship out;” there’s no thin ice. It’s counterintuitive, but strangely, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). God in Jesus brings instant forgiveness to the repeat offenders—may this perpetual Passover comfort us today and renew our hearts.