Wednesday, December 12, 2018
by Brandon Laird
Zephaniah 3:14-20 (NIV)
Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!
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. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not
fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who
saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over
you with singing.” “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
which is a burden and reproach for you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will
rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have
suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor
and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says
In Zephaniah 3, Jehovah is a tribal protector, the likes of which can sometimes be hard to understand for
those who’ve not been a part of anything other than the ruling tribe; for membership in a ruling tribe
confers upon it many benefits, not the least of which is the sustained notion that one belongs to no tribe
in particular, but is simply a part of the normal, regular folk. Anytime a person is not reminded of limits
placed on them by income, inclination, skin color, accent, or culture means simply that they do not face
them with regularity; which means they belong – one way or another – to the group in power.
But when you’re a slave in Babylon, you know you’re not in power. You know you’re a conquered,
dominated tribe. Jehovah God was distinct among all the other deities worshipped throughout the
ancient world, in that our God was behind the underdog – defending the weak, beleaguered, oppressed.
After three centuries of Christianity as the dominant religious tribe in the West, we often lose sight of
the fact that, very much in line with human nature, almost all gods of human imagination were bullies
who backed bullies, with no interest whatsoever in the poor, widowed, orphans.
It is vital to the mission of Christ’s love in our world to remember that the God of Zion is a reliever of
burden, a liberator of the enslaved, a vanquisher of foes; it’s necessary not just because it testifies to a
gospel of freedom, nor because everyone needs reassurance in our personal lives – that a greater force
abides with you in trial and is found in your joy – but because God helps those who do not belong find
not only a place, but their place.
Listen to the scripture, then hear:
I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they have suffered shame.
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
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