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Zephaniah 3:15, 17

Zephaniah 3:15, 17
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Zephaniah 3:15, 17, “YHWH has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies, The King of Israel, YHWH is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil…YHWH 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…”

Let me just highlight three elements from this Zephaniah text as they are seen in this image:

1) Central to the joy of God’s people in Zephaniah 3 is that YHWH—precisely by coming into their midst—has taken away the judgments that were set against His people and cleared away their enemies (v.15). Well, ultimately, the judgment that hangs over God’s people (and all people) is God’s own judgment against their sin (Rom.3:19)…and ultimately the supreme enemy is Death (1 Cor.15:26). Both of these are taken away in the revelatory redemption of YHWH worked in Jesus Christ on the cross. In His death, Christ bears away the judgment that was against His people (thus the spear of the cross, pointed at the bride, is stopped from piercing her by piercing the hand of Christ), and through His death and resurrection, He destroys Enemy Death and secures everlasting life for all those in Him (indicated by the open tomb and partially rolled-away stone in the background). And in all of this He shows Himself to be “the King of Israel,” crowned with the glorified wounds of His steadfast love and faithfulness.

2) The celebratory joy of YHWH over His people—as that of a Groom over his Bride—is depicted in the spiraling pattern of Christ and the Church in this image, and in that both of their right hands are clasped in a sort of whirling circular dance. The word translated “exult” here can indicate dancing for joy and so I tried to present that in the position of Christ and His people. The joy of husband and wife that is rightly expressed through celebratory dancing is a dim shadow of the more fundamental reality of YHWH’s joy in His blood-secured people, over whom He exults in Christ, the Groom.

3) The Love of God—as definitively manifest in Christ, crucified and risen—quiets the hearts and minds and souls and lives of God’s people. I think many senses may be read into this “quieting”: A quieting of fear (fear of judgment, fear of death, fear of abandonment, etc.); a quieting of anger; a quieting of guilt; a quieting of self-protectiveness, of self-justification, of doubt, of weeping…The Love of God in Christ quiets us. And how is this love communicated to us? Through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). The Spirit of God is the personal communication to the people of God of the love of God as it has been poured out to them in the crucified and risen Son of God….and to receive the Spirit is to know the love of God in Christ toward us and so to be quieted. In the image, this quieting communication of personal Love is represented by the banner of the Spirit who is spoken from the Son into His Bride.