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ZEPHANIAH 3:14-17

ONE OF THE MOST SURPRISING TEXTS IN THE WHOLE BIBLE!

WHAT DOES GOD DO WHEN WE WORSHIP?

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

 "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 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. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 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." ZEPHANIAH 3:14-17

 

LESSON 1, introduction:

One author called it "celebratory preaching."

Another simply terms it "worship."

Any way the Text is viewed, it is glorious!

"Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 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. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 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." Zephaniah 3:14-17

While specifically written to Israel, obviously, the blessings here described parallel those we present-day Believers enjoy in Christ Jesus!

The overall design of this Paragraph could be classified as "antiphonal." That's when two groups of worshippers sing alternating parts of some hymn of praise!

If that's the case, the people of God are first being exhorted to worship! To worship the Lord our God! "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. These words would have been sung by group "A" in the choir or congregation!

Then comes a list of things God has done, mighty things, glorious things! Things that easily excite response! "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." Group "B" would have enthusiastically sung this litany of miracles!

Now, back to group "A." Consequently, because God is "in the midst," these words are heard: "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack." No fear, God is here! The literal city of Jerusalem shall one day bear that very name, "And the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there." This is taken from Ezekiel 48:35. But until that gloriously literal time, each saint of God is learning: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment." 1st John 4:18

Then singing group "B" closes this Verse. "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." Wow!

I'm sitting at a computer typing and my heart, my spirit, all my soul are rejoicing in these words even now!

"Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 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. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 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." Zephaniah 3:14-17

The very idea of God's salvation!

And then, to top it all, the Almighty Sovereign of the universe rejoicing over us, the likes of us!

Singing because we are His!

God, resting in His great Love!

Specifically, this Love: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

And this Love: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1st John 3:1

And this Love: "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3

Yes, to Abraham God promised long ago, in Genesis 13:3 to be exact: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." These words are bountifully fulfilled through our Lord Jesus Christ!

That's Jesus, "the son of David, the son of Abraham." Matthew 1:1 precisely calls our Lord by these Names!

The Lord willing, for the next few Lessons we shall delight in this great Bible Text!

Be ready to worship!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 14:

Its verbs are imperative, commands from God!

All four of them, "sing, shout, be glad and rejoice!"

I'm speaking of Zephaniah 3:14. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."

While obviously written to Israel, "Zion" and "Jerusalem" proving so, we Gentiles who are saved can observe and take part, at least in spirit!

After all, we have been saved by Almighty God through the shed Blood of His Son Jesus Christ! We too serve the "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Exodus 3:15

The first word in both English and Hebrew is "sing!" It, "ranan," means "to make a loud sound," usually one of delight! I find the verb eight times in the Bible as an imperative. Think of it! Being required to sing! Zechariah 2:10 is parallel to our Text. "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD."

So does Isaiah 44:23. "Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel." And Isaiah 49:13 too! "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted."

Jeremiah 31:7 just might be a case of being required to sing ... by faith! "For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel."

Again, all the foregoing are imperative uses of "ranan."

Remember too that "Zion" means "a parched place," but now it's blossoming like a rose!

The verb "shout" is used next, "ruwa." It also is a synonym to "sing" or "ranan." It really means "to express a war-cry!" Literally, a shout of victory! It, again as a command, is found 14 times in Scripture. This is the very "shout" the Israelites sounded at the fall of Jericho, when the walls crumbled, Joshua 6:16. Psalm 47:1 well captures the meaning. "O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph."

And the familiar Psalm 100 has it "make a joyful noise!" Remember? "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands."

Wow!

"Be glad" translates "samach," simply meaning "to brighten up!" One can sense the cheerfulness here being sought! Here are a couple of examples. "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things," says Joel 2:21. And Psalm 97:12, "Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." Here "rejoice" is "samach."

I'm overwhelmed at all these imperatives!

Wonderful!

God certainly says "rejoice" and "be glad" a whole lot more often than He says, "mourn!"

Again, we are in Zephaniah 3:14. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."

The last of the four verbs is "alaz," translated "rejoice." It means, according to the older lexicons, "to jump for joy." To exult! Very demonstrative! Emotional! Jewish, in a good way too! Here's "alaz" in Psalm 68:4. "Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him." That's reason enough "to jump up and down!"

The noun "heart" comes from a root word that means something deep within, something "enclosed," as the heart is anatomically! It is spelled "leb." No half-heartedness here, either! "All the heart" takes care of that!

One conclusion must be drawn from this great verse, among many other Passages in the Old Testament. Joy and gladness and shouting are not merely emotional responses! If so, they could not be required of a person! Emotions cannot always be produced on demand!

But, if such things are an act of the will, a determined effort to obey the Lord, these imperatives are right in order!

Paul especially, in the New Testament, also commands such joy! "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4 here uses two imperatives, "chairo" twice.

By following the Lord God, being saved by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, having been washed in the Blood of the lamb, extremely joyful lives are lived! No wonder the "fruit of the Spirit" is JOY!

Now this commonplace little benediction takes on new meaning. "Have a good day!" To the Christian that means "a joyful day!"

"A victorious day!"

"In the Lord!"

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 15:

Its message is thrilling!

It sounds more like the New Testament than the Old!

"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." Zephaniah 3:15

From the lips of a Prophet!

He's preaching to Israel, too!

Yet these basic facts are still true for the Christian today, spiritually speaking anyway.

Maybe the most thrilling part of it all is the middle clause, "The LORD is in the midst of thee." The exact Name for God used here is spelled "Yehovah," The "Existing" One! The God Who IS! Eternally so! The Same, yesterday and today and forever! The word "midst," a noun, is "qereb," that which is "internal." The Hebrew verb "qarab" means "to come near." To "approach."

Paul the Apostle in Colossians 1:27 reminds us that Christ lives "in" us, that's in the "midst" if I've ever heard it! "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Yes!

God, some day yet again in the future, after His Second Coming, is literally going to live in the midst of Israel!

He already lives in the hearts of born-again Believers.

"King of Israel," that's our Lord's Title! Many, me included, believe He will actually sit on the Throne of David! In Jerusalem! For a thousand glorious years!

Again, today's Text: "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." Zephaniah 3:15

Sequentially God did two things prior to occupying David's Throne. One is internal, the other very external!

"The LORD hath taken away thy judgments," number one. The Israelites will be forgiven! It appears that the Nation will repent near the end of the Tribulation, when they see Jesus! "And I (the Lord) will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son." Zechariah 12:10

Here's the forgiveness Zephaniah just promised. "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zechariah 13:1

For the Christian today, "The LORD hath taken away thy judgments" is equally true! Listen to Paul again. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." No condemnation, no judgment! That's exactly what "katakrima" means!

Our sins are under the Blood!

Yes, we Christians face the Judgment Seat of Christ, but that is a "family" matter! Hell is not an issue there! Rewards for faithful service are the focus!

Furthermore, Israel today can scarcely count her enemies. Yet the glorious day is coming when these words will be true: "He (again, the Lord) hath cast out thine enemy." At Armageddon all the nations of earth will have gathered themselves against little Israel! The odds will be insurmountable, humanly speaking!

Then the dear Lord Jesus "shows up," His Second Coming, riding that white horse!

Blood will flow, blood of the enemies!

Deep as horses' bridles!

Yes, the enemies will be "cast out" all right! "Panah" means "to turn away." Not just from Israel, but from God too! Hell awaits this crowd of rebels and Jew-haters!

But, saints of God, your enemy, the Devil, is a defeated foe too! His head has been crushed, by Jesus, on the Cross!

Glory to God!

Then our verse turns from the past to the future! "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."

Again, for emphasis, "Thou shalt not see evil any more."

What a promise!

The verb "see" is "raah," meaning "to inspect, to observe," like a good shepherd does his lambs!

And "evil" is "ra," is the most virulent form of wickedness, malignant and spreading!

God's Presence brings blessings, both positively and negatively! No more evil! Like in Heaven there will be "no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4

Overall, a great Verse!

"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." Zephaniah 3:15

We Thank Thee, Lord, for such Truth!

For such blessings!

No wonder in the last Verse, from yesterday, the Lord's people were singing and shouting so vigorously! "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."

Amen!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 16:

The English word "encouragement" has a Latin background. Its prefix, "en," merely internalizes the quality of bravery or hope or resolution. While its basic root, "courage," is derived from the noun "cor," simply meaning "heart." Then, quite literally, "to encourage" is "to give heart" to a person! To embolden him! To plant new inspiration within her!

Then, for sure, today's Verse encourages the people of God!

Zephaniah 3:16, another of the many great "3:16" references of the Bible, says in full: "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack."

Wow!

The two verbs, both negated here, are not imperatives. Not in Hebrew. Fear thou not! Be not slack!

They are, however, strong words of exhortation!

Jesus loved to use them when he was on earth!

"Fear not," was certainly among His favorite expressions.

I find seven clear instances immediately, straight from the lips of Jesus.

Furthermore, our Lord quoted the Book of Deuteronomy frequently. It uses "fear not" four times.

And Isaiah, the source of our Saviour's first recorded Sermon, employs "fear not" eight more times!

"Yare," the Hebrew verb "to fear," means anything from "being terrorized," to "giving respect or reverence" to another. The word has that wide a latitude of meaning! Obviously, in our context here, only the first of these two meanings is applicable.

 Next, "to be slack," in Hebrew "rapha," means "to sink, relax, drop or be disheartened!" It's related to fatigue or distress or discouragement.

Isaiah once used similar terminology. "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees." Isaiah 35:3

Paul alluded to the same Prophet in Hebrews 12:12. "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet."

The Bible is a strong means of encouragement for the Christian.

Therefore, so is the Lord.

But what major Event has happened in Jerusalem, the Capital City, and Zion, the surrounding area?

What has happened that Zephaniah could issue such instructions?

"In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack."

The Lord has returned!

His Second Coming!

Redemption is complete!

Sins are gone!

Victory is won!

Here's the Zephaniah context: "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." Zephaniah 3:15

Here's how Israel is to respond: "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem." Zephaniah 3:14

Therefore, as a result, consequently, "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack." Zephaniah 3:16

Seems like the Lord's Presence incites courage and strength and faith!

Well, to that fact we all pray, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." That also was John's last recorded prayer from the Isle of Patmos in Revelation 22:20, the next-to-the-last Verse in the whole Bible!

This is our Blessed Hope!

Take courage!

Be at Jesus' Side, a place of no fear!

And no discouragement!

No wonder the little sheep, led by the Great Shepherd, could be assured, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." Psalm 23:6

Listen to Jesus, one more time, Luke 12:32. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Get it?

"Fear not!"

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, BEGINNING VERSE 17:

The final verse of our Text is so great, so thrilling, it must be studied in sections. We begin with its first clause today.

"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." Zephaniah 3:17

God is mighty!

The theologians call this attribute of God "omnipotence." A Latin noun, "omni" means "all" and anything "potent" is "powerful!" All power! "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18

Notice that Zephaniah, whose name means "Jehovah has treasured," uses both major names for God. He is the LORD, "yehovah" or Jehovah in Hebrew. He is the LORD 6519 times in the Old Testament too! He's the God Who is! Eternally self-existent! Never aging! Never changing!

Also our Lord here is identified as "God," translating "elohiym," used 2606 times in Scripture. That prefix "el" means "strength or might or power!" Its plural form here, its ending in "iym," indicates God is Triune! One God, yet knowable as Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Be aware of this great God's Presence! "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee."

The noun "qereb" or "midst" means "the inner part" of something. In the Old Testament it is sometimes used as a parallel for one's "heart or soul" or other internal body parts. God is not just in the midst of the city! He is in the midst of their very beings, these blessed people of God!

Lastly, we're reminded that God is "mighty!" Our Text is incomplete without this great adjective. Spelled "gibbor," it means "valiant, champion, giant, chief, strongest!" A Strong Man! The root verb "gabar" means "to prevail or exceed!" Jesus is Victor!

What will some day be true for Israel literally, nationally, "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty," is true for us Believers in Jesus Christ this very second!

He lives in our midst!

Our very bodies are His temple!

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God." 1st Corinthians 6:19

And Paul writes to the Colossians of "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

What a blessing!

Enjoy His Presence today!

Let the words of the old song be true in your life. "And He walks with me. And He talks with me. And He tells me I am His Own! And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!"

It happened in Eden. "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." Genesis 3:8

It's still happening today!

Praise the Lord!

The mighty God!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, STILL VERSE 17:

Zephaniah 3:17, in three lovely words, short words, promises Israel the Nation the greatest Blessing ever bestowed!

While to the Jews this is a future Event, it is nonetheless a literal Event! This is what is said of our Mighty God, "He will save!"

Just that!

"He will save."

I said three words, in English that many.

In Hebrew, it's only one!

"Yasha!"

This basic verb, "to save," is amazing!

In both its verb and noun forms one finds meanings such as "save, saviour, deliver, help, preserve, salvation, defend, rescue, victory, safe and avenge!" Each of these is used in the King James Version of Scripture for sure.

What a God He is!

The whole 17th Verse of Zephaniah 3 is wonder-filled! Grace-oriented! "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."

Just to say, "God saves," is one thing.

But to say He is Almighty immediately before praising His saving ability is another!

He not only saves, He is able to do so thoroughly, completely, without failure, valiantly! This kind of "saving" ... "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25 is glorious!

He not only saves, but as we are informed immediately afterwards, He enjoys it! He delights in His subjects! His "targets" of redemption!

He is able to save!

He enjoys saving!

"He will save."

God loves this "saving" program so much that He named His Only Begotten Son after it! An angel said to Joseph, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." In Matthew 1:21 here, "Jesus" is a form of the Hebrew "yasha," the very word we're studying!

"He will save!"

He is The Saviour!

Everywhere you see God in Scripture, He is saving people!

God "saved" Adam and Eve in the Garden! After sin had entered human life! Remember blood was shed there! "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Genesis 3:21

Then, using "yasha" too, Exodus14:30 says: "Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore." Blood was involved here too!

Salvation in Deuteronomy? "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency!" Here in Deuteronomy 33:29, happiness is first mention in the Bible in connection with salvation!

One can trace God's "saving" Nature throughout the whole Bible!

"Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake." Psalm 6:4 is still using "yasha" too.

Even Proverbs, "Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee." Proverbs 20:22

And the Prophets, the precious Prophets, always talk about "the God of thy salvation." See Isaiah 17:10, for example.

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

And I've not quoted from Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, Habakkuk or Zechariah!

Our God will save!

In the New Testament too! "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 may be the best example.

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." John 10:9, quoting Jesus.

Hear Peter in Acts 4:12. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Amen!

And Paul! "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10:9

James too! "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:21

The whole Bible!

Truly, our God saves!

Israel will experience some day nationally what individuals can today know personally, soul salvation from an Almighty God!

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:31

Are you saved?

Worship this awesome God today!

Be sure. He will save someone again this very hour!

Perhaps more than one!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, STILL VERSE 17:

Constantly the Bible admonishes us to rejoice.

Paul even does so twice, twice in a single verse! "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4

But Zephaniah, the Old Testament Minor Prophet, sheds new light on the whole concept of rejoicing. Let me show you what I mean. "He will rejoice over thee with joy." That's God, rejoicing over His children!

Here's the whole glorious verse. "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." Zephaniah 3:17

The verb "will rejoice" translates "sus" in Hebrew. Only occurring a few dozen times in Scripture, it seems to refer to the "display" of joy. This is not merely inner joy, hidden in some recess of God's great Heart! This is expressed joy! Demonstrated joy! Palpable joy!

Truth be told, this "joy" of the Lord is probably not based solely on the Israelites, or on us saints today for that matter, nearly as much as it's based on the very Character of God!

He rejoices in Himself! Because He is God!

Here's why I say that. God's happiness does not depend on how we behave! He is supremely joyful, perfectly joyful, the very Definition of joy ... and has been for all eternity!

For example, here's the first Bible usage of "sus." Moses wrote, exhorting the Jews to obey God, not to disobey Him! "And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it." Deuteronomy 28:63, Wow! God rejoices either way! He is Joy!

Still, He rejoices over His people!

While we're in some good worship service here on earth, shouting and praising the Lord, or weeping and glorifying His Name ... He is simultaneously in Heaven doing the same thing back to us!

Rejoicing, loudly and clearly and, yes, visibly!

Amazing!

"He will rejoice over thee with joy."

The preposition "over" is simply spelled "al." It means "over" of course, but can also mean "upon, on, or above." Song of Solomon 2:4 tells us that God's banner over us is love! "His banner over me was love," exclaimed the Bride! Well, here in our Text today, God's banner over us is "joy!"

The noun, the only noun, in our Text is "simchah," just plain "joy." It is derived from a root verb, "samach," meaning "to be glad, to brighten up, to be cheerful!" Found nearly a hundred times in the Bible, "simchah" is translated several different ways in the King James Bible; "joy, gladness, and mirth," being the three major expressions.

God, God who "glows" in His mighty Essence anyway, God who dwells in unapproachable light, "brightens up" when He thinks of His children!

That's what we have just been told!

One would suspect that Zephaniah is just using an anthropomorphism here, describing God in human terms so we can grasp the concept, but I think not!

I believe the Lord really does rejoice over us!

Literally!

Other Bible Prophets do too!

"As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Isaiah 62:5 announces!

God again, in Isaiah 65:19 this time: "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."

Jeremiah 32:41 also, "Yea, I (the Lord) will rejoice over them (His people) to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul."

Even Paul in the New Testament has God delighting in His Own. We all know that we have an inheritance in Jesus! We are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ," Romans 8:17. But Paul says much more in Ephesians 1:18. There he has God possessing an inheritance in His saints! "The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints!" YOU are part of God's treasure!

He values you immensely!

I've said enough.

The Holy Spirit has to "teach" it to us anyway.

Hear Him well.

He's always speaking of God.

Now I close.

"He will rejoice over thee with joy."

Think about it.

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, THAT GREAT VERSE 17:

Several times in the Song of Solomon the concept is mentioned.

For example, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please." Song of Solomon 8:4, 3:5 and again in 2:7, three times!

The Beloved, Who is a picture, a "type," of the Lord Jesus Christ, has come to spend precious time with His Bride. She's a picture of the Church!

It's then that she exclaims the above lines, in so many words: "He's resting! Don't wake Him please!"

The implication is that the Lord Jesus "rests" in His Love for the saints! He, there, in communion with His Bride, is at ease! At peace! At His Best! Infinitely content!

Therefore, don't "stir" Him, literally "to awaken" Him, the Hebrew verb being simply "ur." Do not disturb Him!

Jesus at Rest!

Among His followers!

Among the saints!

True Christians!

Well, today I've found a supporting Verse for this "Song of Solomon" concept! And, of all places, it's in a little Minor Prophet's preaching! Zephaniah 3:17, in its entirety, says: "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."

See it?

"He will rest in His Love!"

Wow!

The verb "rest" translates "charash," a Hebrew word most often meaning "to be at peace or to rest in peace or to hold one's peace, to do something in peace!" That's the idea anyway.

The "imperfect" sense of timing invested in the verb suggests a whole lot of resting too! Our Lord loves to "drop by," figuratively speaking, and "rest" with His precious people! Often!

Again, symbolically, here He is! "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk." The Beloved thinking of His Love! She, purely speaking, is His "garden!"

Now listen to Him, seeking entrance! "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." Song of Solomon 5:1-2

He wants to enter and "rest," with His Bride!

Think of it!

Jesus resting!

In fellowship and harmony and intimacy with His Own children!

Yes, "He will rest in His Love!"

But the thing that so "draws" Him is ... not our knowledge or numbers or wealth or abilities ... but "love!"

That noun, "love," is in Hebrew "ahabah," the feminine form of "ahab," the standard Hebrew word for "love." It verbally means "to have deep affection" for someone! It's first use in Scripture, Genesis 29:20, involves husband-wife love! "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her."

It also introduces the Bible concept of "friendship" too!"  See Proverbs 14:20. "The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends." Here "friends" is spelled "ahab."

Jesus considers us His friends! "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." This is Jesus in John 15:15, word for word!

He "rests" in that friendship!

He also "rests" in the intimate communion we have with Him, He being the Heavenly Bridegroom and we the future Bride!

Church, did you hear that?

Christian, today as you fellowship with Him, as He seems especially sweet, as He seeks to walk with you and talk with you ... receive Him joyfully!

He will spend time in your midst!

It will be so sweet!

And, eventually, He will "rest" there!

Jesus at rest!

A surprising notion!

But Biblical!

Resting in His Garden!

Resting in His Church!

Resting in the heart of each godly Believer!

Shush!

Be quiet!

Saviour at rest!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Thought: He not only gives us rest, which is true! "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

He also takes His rest in us! Relaxing and rejoicing! Again our Text proves such. "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." Zechariah 3:17

Welcome Him freely!

 

 

LESSON 9, THE LAST CLAUSE OF VERSE 17:

The Verse portrays God .... singing!

The Bible tells us clearly that God "loves." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

And that he "laughs." Psalm 2:4, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."

And that He reflects many other aspects of Personhood too.

But, sing?

Watch the last clause in Zephaniah 3:17, our focus Verse for the past few days. "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."

See it?

"He will joy over thee with singing!"

The verb translated  "will joy" is spelled "giyl" in Hebrew. In all of its forty-four appearances in Scripture it relates to gladness or delight or rejoicing. However, in its bare etymological sense, "giyl" means "to spin around!" Then the textbooks add, "under some strong emotional influence!" To twirl in glee and bliss!

God, that emotional!

Over His Own children!

Over us!

The noun "singing" is "rinnah," a verb whose root means "to shout!" This is loud singing God's doing!

Quite often in the Bible "singing" is associated with salvation, redemption!

The first recorded song in the Bible, in Exodus 15, centers of such salvation! "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for He hath triumphed gloriously. The LORD is my Strength and Song, and He is become my Salvation: he is my God ...."

The Holy Spirit also is often linked to joyful singing! "Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." So writes Paul in Ephesians 5:18-19.

Yes, we sing to God!

Yes, we sing about God!

Yes, we sing because of God!

But to even think ... God sings because of us!

Overwhelming!

All of us this morning ought to have some kind of godly song vibrating in our hearts ... singing Glory to His Name!

Praise be unto Him forever!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell 

 

 

LESSON 10, CONCLUSION:

For ten days, much longer than first anticipated, we have been studying Zephaniah 3:14-17. What a thrilling Text it is!

Today, during our last Zephaniah visit, we shall get an overview of the whole Passage.

It is marvelous!

"Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 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. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 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." Zephaniah 3:14-17

One reading of the Paragraph develops like this. It's so logical, beautiful too! Truly this is a "celebratory" body of Scripture.

Almost unique in its Truth!

Let's begin with God, the Starting Point for everything. He has done something for His people! " 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."

Wow! What feats! If one's "judgments" have been removed, he or she has been saved! No condemnation remains! Sin, which brings judgment anyway, has been forgiven! Grace! Mercy! Love! Victory!

But the Lord is still going to do more for Israel. He's going to alter her future! "Thou shalt not see evil any more." That's a promise from Almighty God! No more evil!

With such things as that being done for a people, how should they properly respond?

Here's how. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."

This is worship!

Glorious worship! True gladness, real joy, genuine shouting are all results of a right relationship with God!

If God has saved you ... and me ... we should worship Him too!

Yet in the midst of this environment of adoration and praise, God does even more!

Worship always incites God!

The God who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," He warmly responds to praise and thanksgiving!

All of a sudden, God does even more! "Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty." God moves in! He dissolves all fear! He strengthens resolve and reverses discouragement! He displays His strength!

What saint of God is not constantly amazed at God's doings in his or her life? Truly, "He doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." Job 9:10

And for those of you who think I have been "reading" too much into this Text, incorporating "salvation" into an Old Testament situation ... read further please!

It is said of God, "He will save." Yes, Jesus saves! Through the power of His shed Blood! By Grace, through Faith!

Here's my point today, the more worship that is directed to God in Heaven above ... the more He responds, in fact, the more emotionally He responds! The scholar may remind us that these are merely "anthropomorphisms," ways of explaining God by likening His actions to human responses. But, still, it's in the Bible! Surely these word pictures indicate God's approval! God's delight! God's utter satisfaction!

What Believer in the Lord does not want to please our Heavenly Father?

Here's what God, nearly unbelievably, does next!

While His people worship Him!

"He will rejoice over thee with joy!" God is Himself happy, demonstrably so! Ecstatic, if that is even possible with Omnipotence and Omni-presence!

Then, surprisingly, it's as if God "rests" in the praises of His people! He is comforted and refreshed as we glorify his Name! "He will rest in His love," we are told!

Lastly, we see, rather hear, the Lord God, as Zephaniah words it, "singing!" Yes, "He will joy over thee with singing." And the verb for "singing" is not merely making melody, but "jumping and spinning with glee, pleasure, joy, delight!"

Sort of reminds me of King David, while returning the Ark of the Covenant from exile back to Jerusalem: "And David danced before the LORD with all his might." Then we see him "leaping" in 2nd Samuel 6:16. And "playing" his instruments, worshipping, in 1st Chronicles 15:29.

The essence of Zephaniah 3:14-17 may be this. On top of all the theological beauty it contains, God loves it when we worship Him! He genuinely adores our praise!

As we sing to Him, He sings in return!

As we rejoice in Him, He rejoices in us!

As we rest in Him, He "rests" in His love, His people!

As we physically respond to Him, lifting hands or shouting "amen" or shedding tears of joy, He again  responds in like manner, perhaps even jumping up and down, the meaning of "rinnah," the verb for "singing" in Zephaniah 3:17.

Remember that Jesus once "stood up" from His "sitting" position there at the right Hand of God! At least once! God is capable of physical movement!

God gets excited, according to these word pictures anyway, in this great Zephaniah Text, when His people gladly and joyfully praise and worship His Name!

Even Jesus, in John 4:23, said: "The Father seeketh such to worship Him." God longs for His children to worship Him! God "craves" such adoration! It suits Him well. It becomes Him!

Today being Sunday, the Lord's Day, let's not disappoint Him!

"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." Psalm 95:6

Then, there's just no telling what God might do!

"Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy." Psalm 99:5

"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalm 138:2

Or more succinctly, as the angel told John in Revelation 22:9, "Worship God." Just ... worship God!

He will certainly be pleased. and maybe a lot more!

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

What a Text, Zephaniah 3:14-17, "What God does when we worship!" We pray these Lessons have been a source of blessing and growth to you spiritually. Come again soon and study the precious Word of God with us!

 

 

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