Sermon #1610 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Reasons To Be Glad And Rejoice
Text: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Subject: God’s Joy In His People
Date: Sunday Morning — March 20, 2005
Tape # Y-63b
Reading: Psalm 98:1-9
In have, in recent weeks, been corresponding with a friend, a faithful gospel preacher, who has been going through a difficult time. His heart has been heavy, because the church he pastors has recently had to endure the mean-spirited departure of a member. As I closed my last letter to him this week, I tried to remind him that all is well in Zion, pointing him to the third chapter of Zephaniah. After sending the letter, I read the short prophecy of Zephaniah again, and knew immediately what my message would be this morning.
A Prophecy of Judgment
The Book of Zephaniah is a prophecy of judgment. As I read these three chapters, I began to think, there is nothing but judgment here. It describes the idolatry and sins of the nations of the world. And it exposes the sins of God’s people. We deserve wrath as much as anyone else. We are as guilty as the rest of the world. What evil have other men done that we have not done in thought, if not in deed?
The nature of the reprobate is our nature. His heart is our heart. His thoughts are our thoughts. And his deeds are our deeds. Yet, while God pours out his wrath upon others, he pours out his mercy, love, and grace upon us. Let us never lose sight of the fact that the only difference between us and those who perish under the wrath of God is the difference that grace has made (1 Cor. 4:7).
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
Morsels of Mercy
Though Zephaniah speaks about almost nothing but sin and judgment, throughout the prophecy, he keeps throwing in sweet morsels of mercy.
· In chapter 1, after describing God’s sure judgment upon idolatry, he speaks in verse 7 of “the day of the Lord” and declares, “The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice. He hath bid his guests.” Then, in verse 8 he speaks of “the day of the Lord’s sacrifice.” — This is, without question speaking of Christ our Sacrifice and of this great day of the Lord, commonly called “the gospel age.”
· In chapter 2 Zephaniah speaks of God’s people as “a nation not desired” (v. 1). Blessed be God, though we are a people not desired by any upon earth, God’s church, his “holy nation,” is desired by him.
· In the 3rd verse of chapter 2 the prophet calls for this “nation not desired” to take refuge in Christ.
(Zephaniah 2:3) “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.”
· Then, Zephaniah speaks (2:7) of “a remnant.” That is always a cheering word! Whenever the Lord God speaks of his elect remnant, he always promises mercy. Blessed be his name, in the midst of wrath our God remembers mercy!
(Zephaniah 2:7) “And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.”
· In verse 9 of chapter 2 the Lord God speaks of his remnant again, and promises, “the residue of my people shall spoil them (all their enemies), and the remnant of my people shall possess them.”
· In verse 11 the prophet of God again declared that the day would come when the Lord God would by the preaching of the gospel “famish all the gods of the earth” and cause men from the four corners of the earth to worship him, by the mighty operations of his grace gathering his elect from the isles of the Gentiles.
· In all these things, Zephaniah reminds us (3:5), — “The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.”
When we get to the 9th verse of the 3rd chapter, after declaring that he will devour the nations in his furious wrath and indignation and the earth with the fire of his jealousy in verse 8, declares what he will do in mercy, love and grace for his chosen. There is nothing in verses 9-13 but free grace and full salvation in Christ.
(Zephaniah 3:9-10) “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. (10) From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.”
The pure language God brings to his people is his gospel. He sends it out to the nations of the world and by the outpouring of His Spirit in the mighty operations of his grace, he causes the work of his grace to prosper, even from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. He delivers his chosen from all the vanities of the earth out of every nation, people, tribe, and tongue.
(Zephaniah 3:11-13) “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. (12) I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. (13) The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
The words, “In that day” are used repeatedly in the Old Testament to speak of this blessed gospel day in which we live. So, clearly, the things Zephaniah is describing were written specifically with reference to you and me and this day in which we live. Look at the promises the God of all grace makes to every sinner who is caused by his grace to look to Christ, being delivered from idolatry, sin, and death.
· “Thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me.” — Our Savior prayed, “Let none that wait on thee be ashamed” (Ps. 25:3). We who believe take shame to ourselves, while glorying in the Lord. Yet, we are convinced that Christ has taken away our shame. David sang, “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments” (Ps. 119:6). Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have respect unto all God’s commandments. We have, in him and by him, fulfilled all the law (1 John 3:23). Therefore, standing before God in Christ, we have no cause of shame before him.
· “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” — Saved sinners are an afflicted people, poor in spirit, who adore and adorn the doctrine of God their Savior in all things.
· “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” — This speaks not of the old man of flesh, but of the new man of grace. Grace makes saved sinners a holy people before the Lord by making us partakers of the divine nature. That which is born of God cannot sin, for that which is born of God in us is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Being spiritually led, God’s people are spiritually fed, sustained, and nourished with the body and blood of Christ. Christ himself is both our food and shepherd. We lie down in safety under the assured blessing of pardon, mercy, and peace in him, washed in his blood and made the very righteousness of God in him (Ezek. 16:63; Matt. 5:3; Ephes. 4:22-5:2; John 6:51-58).
· “And none shall make them afraid!” — Not Satan, that roaring lion who seeks to devour us! — Not his messengers, those false prophets who would corrupt us from the simplicity of Christ! — Not self-righteous Pharisees who seek to bring us again into bondage! — Not the old man of flesh, Adam, who would turn us away from our blessed God and Savior. — Not even death and judgment, the great terrors of all men, for they are now our friends (Rom. 8:28-39; 1 Cor. 15:51-58).
Reasons to be Glad and Rejoce
In the light of everything he has written, Zephaniah gives us reasons to sing, reasons to be glad and rejoice, no matter what our circumstances in this present time world may be.
(Zephaniah 3:14-20) “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. (15) The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. (16) In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. (17) The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (18) I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. (19) Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. (20) At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.”
John Gill wrote, “Every word (in this text) carries in it something very encouraging to the church and people of God; and is an antidote against those fears and faintings they are subject to.” Let’s take a brief look at these precious words of grace and learn to sing in the midst of great trouble and rejoice even in the midst of great woe.
Proposition: Child of God, no matter what the trouble is that breaks your heart, weighs upon your soul, or dampens your spirit, I have good news which ought to make you rejoice and sing with all your heart.
(Zephaniah 3:14) “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.”
Having called us to sing and rejoice, in verses 15-20 the Prophet of God gives us ten reasons to rejoice and sing, ten reasons not to fear, ten reasons to be steadfast and immovable in the work of the Lord. Keep your Bible open on you lap. I don’t want you to miss a word.
I. “THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY THY JUDGMENTS.”
The rest of the world, by reason of sin and guilt, is under the wrath of God. But “the Lord hath taken away thy judgments.” That is good news. I am not talking about what the Lord wants to do, hopes to do, or has tried to do. I am talking about what the Lord has done. “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments.”
By the work of his free, almighty, and sovereign grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, has taken away our judgments.
A. He has taken away our sins, the cause of judgment (Heb. 9:26; Psa. 103:11-12).
(Hebrews 9:26) “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
(Psalms 103:10-12) “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (11) For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. (12) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
That is redemption!
B. He has taken away our spiritual death, the consequence of judgment (Col. 1:13-14).
(Colossians 1:12-14) “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
That is the new birth!
C. He has taken away the curse of the law, the sentence of judgment (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:1, 32-34).
1. Redemption accomplished — Christ redeemed us from the hands of the law when he died at Calvary (Heb. 9:12).
(Hebrews 9:12) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
2. Redemption applied — Christ delivered us from the bondage of guilt when he gave us faith (Heb. 9:14).
(Hebrews 9:14) “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
II. “HE HATH CAST OUT THINE ENEMY.”
Satan came into the land of man’s soul by the door of sin as an invading enemy. But Christ, our mighty Man of War, the Captain of our Salvation, has cast him out.
A. Back before he made Adam in the Garden, our God cast Satan out of heaven as soon as he began to oppose God’s purpose of grace toward us (Ezek. 28:14-17).
B. The Son of God broke Satan’s usurped power and dominion over the nations of the world at the cross, and in that sense, cast him out when he died as our Substitute (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31; Rev. 20).
C. Our mighty, omnipotent Savior casts Satan out of the hearts of his people in regeneration by the power of his Spirit, so that we are no longer in bondage to and under the rule of the prince of darkness (Isa. 49:24-25; Matt. 12:28-29).
(Isaiah 49:24-25) “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? (25) But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.”
(Matthew 12:28-29) “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (29) Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.”
D. And the Lord Jesus Christ will cast Satan into the pit of the damned at the last day (Rev. 20:10).
(Revelation 20:10) “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
III. “THE KING OF ISRAEL, EVEN THE LORD, IS IN THE MIDST OF THEE.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of Israel, the King of his church. And he is in the midst of us. Did you hear that? Child of God, the Lord is with you. That ought to fill us with unspeakable joy, peace, and security (Isa. 41:10).
(Isaiah 41:10) “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.”
(Philippians 4:4-5) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Christ is always near. He is our God at hand (Phil. 4:5). He is near to support us and supply our needs. He is near to assist and strengthen us. He is near to protect and defend us. When Zephaniah says, “The Lord is in the midst of thee,” his meaning is threefold:
A. He is essentially present, because he is the omnipresent God.
B. He is providentially present, because he is determined to do us good.
C. He is graciously present, because he promised never to leave us nor forsake us.
IV. “THOU SHALT NOT SEE EVIL ANYMORE!”
What a promise! “There shall no evil happen to the just” (Prov. 12:21). “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him” (Isa. 3:10). The Lord God will not turn away from you to do you good! He has promised it in his covenant (Jer. 32:40-41).
(Jeremiah 32:40-41) “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (41) Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”
As Bro. Scott Richardson put it, “There’s been no bad news since I got the good news!”
Robert Hawker said, The “redeemed soul is a secured soul, a safe soul, an happy soul! Even his afflictions are as angels and messengers of sanctification and wisdom, all tending to his good “Rom. 8:28).”
(Zephaniah 3:16) “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.”
V. “THE LORD THY GOD IN THE MIDST OF THEE IS MIGHTY!”
When Zephaniah was delivering this message, after saying, “The Lord is in the midst of thee,” seems to think, “Oh, I meant to say not only that the Lord is in the midst of thee, but also to say, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” I’m glad he remembered to put that in!
A. He who is in the midst of us is the LORD Jehovah, the Being of beings, the eternal, immutable, all-sufficient God.
B. He is the LORD thy God!
· He is ours by his own covenant grace.
· He is our by his miraculous incarnation — “God with us!”
· He is ours by his great gift of faith.
C. And he who is the LORD our God is Mighty!
He is the Almighty God, the Omnipotent Creator, and the All-Powerful Mediator and Savior. All power in heaven and earth has been given to that Man who is our God. Therefore he is able to…
· Save us to the uttermost.
· Deliver us from the hand of every enemy.
· Keep us in the midst of every temptation.
· Sustain us in every trial.
· And bring us safe into his heavenly kingdom.
VI. “HE WILL SAVE!”
The Lord our God is not only able but also willing to save (Micah 7:18-20).
(Micah 7:18-20) “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. (19) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (20) Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”
A. He readily undertook to save us in the covenant of grace.
B. He came in the fulness of time to seek and to save that which was lost.
C. He has wrought out salvation for us by his obedience unto death.
D. He sees to it that salvation is applied to every chosen, redeemed sinner.
E. And he will come again to put us in full possession of that salvation he has accomplished for us.
· He saves us freely, fully, and everlastingly.
· He saves from sin, Satan, the law, hell, and wrath.
· He will save us from every temporal and every spiritual enemy in time and to eternity. — “He will save!”
· Soon, he will save us from all our troubles.
(Psalms 25:22) “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”
(Psalms 34:6) “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”
Stay with me. The news good gets better still! “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments.” — “He hath cast out thine enemy.” — “The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee.” — “Thou shalt not see evil anymore.” — “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” — “He will save!” Now read the seventh line of our text…
VII. “HE WILL REJOICE OVER THEE WITH JOY!”
Shall God rejoice over us? Indeed he does! He rejoices over his elect with exceeding, great, inexpressible joy. The inspired prophet seems to be searching for words to describe God’s joy over his people. As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, rejoices over us his people (Isa. 62:3-5; 61:10). And when we stand before him on that great day, he will publicly rejoice over us (Rev. 19:1-9).
(Isaiah 62:3-5) “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. (4) Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. (5) For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”
(Isaiah 61:10) “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
(Revelation 19:1-9) “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: (2) For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. (3) And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. (4) And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. (5) And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. (6) And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (9) And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”
VIII. “HE WILL REST IN HIS LOVE!”
Now hear the meaning of these words. — The Lord Jesus Christ finds great complacency, delight, and satisfaction in loving us and in expressing his love to us! It is pleasing to him to love us! He solaces himself in it!
There is not a greater, fuller verbal expression of Christ’s love for us in all the Bible than this, — “He will rest in his love.” He says to us, “Thou hast ravished my heart” (Song of Sol. 4:9). Oh, what infinite, condescending grace! God not only loves us, but he loves to love us! He is pleased that he chose us as the objects of his love! Oh, my heart, be ravished with his love! Christ’s love for us is…
· Without cause!
· Without beginning!
· Without change!
· Without end!
This phrase might be translated, “He will be silent, because of his love.”
· Our Lord will not upbraid us because of our sins.
· He will never speak a word of anger or wrath to us.
· And he will put all of our enemies to silence as well.
As one completely overwhelmed with love for another is often speechless at the sight of the one he loves, when they have been separated for a long, long time, so Christ is speechless because of his love!
IX. “HE WILL JOY OVER THEE WITH SINGING!”
Again, the prophet is searching for words to describe Christ’s love for us. He rejoices over us with joy and joys with singing! He is telling us that God himself is delighted that we are his people, his chosen, redeemed, called ones. We are his Hephzibah, in whom he delights. We are his Beulah, to whom he is married. And he wants no one else!
The skylark, after tending to her new-born brood, soars into the heavens singing, all the while looking down upon her nest, and soon descends upon her babies again, still singing, appearing to rejoice over them with every possible expression of satisfaction, love and delight. So our blessed Savior, the God of all grace and goodness, looks on us. He rejoices over us to do s good, with his whole heart, and with his whole soul.
X. In verses 18-20 the Prophet Zephaniah gives us a tenth reason to rejoice and be glad, declaring God’s word of promise to his people regarding The glory that shall be ours in the resurrection.
I can do no more than read the promises. May God the Holy Spirit set them in our hearts, and cause us to sing, be glad and rejoice in Christ our great Savior.
(Zephaniah 3:18-20) “I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. (19) Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. (20) At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.”
· Zephaniah’s name means “Jehovah has treasured.” — How we ought to thank God for the words he has written, to convince us that we are treasured of our God.
· His name also means “the secret of the Lord” or “revealer of secrets.” — What precious secrets he has opened and revealed to us!
· Hawker points out a similarity between Zephaniah and Joseph, whom Pharaoh called, “Zaphnathpaaneah” (Gen. 41:45), which means “treasury of glorious rest.” — Truly, Zephaniah has shown us glorious rest!
Application: Now, in the light of these things, I say to you who trust my God and Savior…
1. “Sing, O daughter of Zion!”
2. “Be glad and rejoice with all your heart!”
3. “Fear thou not!”
4. “Let not thine hands be slack.”
· Hands of prayer.
· Hands of praise.
· Hands of labor (1 Cor. 15:58).
And to you who do not yet trust our God, I have a question. — Why? Oh, may God give you grace now to trust him and put this song and joy and gladness in your soul, for Christ’s sake!