Rejoice and Exult!: Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20

"The Lord your God is with you, the Might 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." 


Rejoice and Exult!

AS A CHILD, ONE OF MY FAVORITE GAMES TO PLAY WITH OTHER KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS HIDE-AND-SEEK. All these years later, I can vividly recall those late summer evenings when the games would begin by deciding who would be the hiders and who would be the seeker. While different versions of this game have been played across time, the goal of those hiding was always the same—to be hidden so well as to not be found by the one coming to capture you; then after hiding for some period, make it back to a designated area of safety called “home base.”

I couldn’t help but think about this childhood game as I reflected on the words of the prophet Zephaniah, whose name is translated “he who is hidden by God.” Like the writings of other prophets, the book of Zephaniah follows a pattern of judgment of sins, followed by the hope of restoration for God’s chosen people. Through the Word of the Lord as told through the prophet, we are reminded that we serve a God of justice and love and that if we are to make it home—to the new Jerusalem—we must be hidden in God. In “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald Chambers speaks of the hidden life with Christ in God as “the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in and behind it.” This was the type of life that Zephaniah led and the life that you and I are being called to live in this day. What blessed assurance it is to know that we are not called to live this life in our strength and will, but in response to the timeless promises of God our Savior. Because of the wrong we do, God would be right to judge us for our sin. But, being a merciful and loving God, He offers us salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is in this hope that the faith of Zephaniah is hidden. Zephaniah could delight in the Lord because he knew the promises of God for His people.

God has promised His presence to His people. He is the one and only God of the universe who is with us at all times and has promised to never leave or forsake us. God has promised His power. We serve a mighty God who has overcome evil in the world and has the power to save those who are lost. God has promised His protection. In life’s moments of uncertainty, danger and despair, we can rest assured that we serve a God who cares and comforts. God has promised His peace—that love that will quiet a restless heart and give a sense of peace and calm that passes all understanding. In “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” Brennan Manning aptly describes this sense of peace as “my deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” And finally, God has promised us His praise. Knowing that God not only delights in us, but rejoices over us with song, fills the heart with unspeakable joy! My prayer this season is that we, like Zephaniah, be hidden in these same promises of God.

-Dr. Todd Allen, special assistant to the president and provost for diversity affairs