advent week 4 – never too far

Today we are looking at a passage from Zephaiah, chapter 3, verses 14-17. 

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.”

It is incredible that the whole of the Bible really does point to Jesus. That the history we read about in the Old Testament is really His Story.  

Before we get to the passage in chapter 3, let’s do a quick overview of what’s happening in Zephaniah before this. Zephaniah kicks us off with a lot of poetry in this book. And at first, you may have thought, “What in the wild world of sports is going on?” Here’s a brief breakdown: like usual, God’s people have gotten themselves into trouble (idolatry and some other stuff, yikes). It’s a dark time in Jerusalem. Zephaniah sees God’s justice coming and urges the people to turn towards God (we later refer to this group as the “Remnant”). It’s a juxtaposition of God’s justice and God’s love.

With so much chaos in Jerusalem, God seeks to unite and purify the nations. Sound familiar? Because this portion of the story is fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that He would unite the nations (Genesis 17). We see God’s justice making things right, but we also see God’s love seeking to unite His people and unite them back to Himself.  

Not only are the people who turned back to God called to sing & rejoice, but we see that God sings over them at the end of the passage. God seeks to be with his people!

There was so much evil in the land during Zephaniah’s time, much like the darkness present when Jesus enters the scene. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you,” similar to the passage we read in Matthew 1:23, “And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)” (CEB) The parallelism of the Bible is crazy. Even in the darkest times, we are reminded that God is with us.

All of this reminds me of God’s rescue mission with Jesus. The world is in a tough place, and God seeks to rectify the situation. This ending section of the minor prophet’s book points us to a future hope, a reminder that even when we feel like we are too far gone, God is the God of hope.

This Christmas season, maybe you’ve let God’s work through you create space away from the work God desires to do in you. Every schedule, rehearsal, meeting, and set build has the potential to push you further away from God. Perhaps you are in a dark season this Christmas, and hope feels like a far-off thing. But let us not lose heart, for even in the darkest of seasons, God reminds us He is with us.

Need some community and prayer during this time? Reach out to us and let us know how we can pray for you, your family, your team, and your church this holiday season!

Brittany Crimmel

Brittany Crimmel

After spending a few years on the east coast as a programming director, Brittany now has the privilege of serving as the Production Service Director at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Brittany joined the Saddleback team during the pandemic, when the church was only meeting online. She helped the team through the transition of regathering outside and then finally renovating and re-opening the Lake Forest campus worship center. Brittany loves being able to interact with multiple departments to help them effectively work together on projects, most often Saddleback's weekend services.

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MAY 7-8, 2024