Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord 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.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord. Zephaniah 3:14-20 ESV
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
“and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:15-19 ESV
World War II was a horrible, devastating war that lasted for about six years. After years of fighting Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces on May 7, 1945, which ended the war in Europe. On May 8th or 9th, depending on which country a person was in, a day called Victory in Europe Day was observed. There were celebrations all over the world. Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of London to celebrate, and American sailors and laughing girls danced a conga line in Piccadilly. People in Scotland danced an eightsome reel, their national dance, and people in Wales used sugar, which was very rare at that time, to make treats and set up tables of them in the street for children. Ticker tape rained down from buildings and small planes in Toronto, and in Cape Town, South Africa, celebrating people almost brought traffic to a standstill. Church bells rang in France, and fireworks, spotlights, and bonfires lit up the streets in Brussels. Even though there was sadness for all the destruction and death the war had caused, and fear because the war wasn’t over in Asia yet, there was joy on V-E Day because the war was over in Europe.
The prophet Zephaniah, talked about the terrible judgment of God for the southern kingdom of Judah and for the whole world. But at the end of Zephaniah’s message, God gave words of hope and comfort. He said that a time to rejoice was coming, a time when the Lord would take away the judgments against his people and come to be with them and save them. He would gather his people together and rejoice and sing over them and quiet their fears with his love for them. He would save the lame and the outcast and restore the entire nation, while their enemies would be cleared away. It would be a time of celebration, and the festivals of the people would be observed again.
God came to his people in Jesus, and Jesus turned away God’s judgments by taking them on himself at the cross. Through Jesus, God has gathered people from all over the world to himself. He shows us his love and forgives our sins, and he heals our hurts and quiets our fears. The greatest enemies of all–sin and death and the devil–were defeated by Jesus in his death and resurrection. Now we are free to serve God and to praise him, and to celebrate all the wonderful things he’s done for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for taking away the judgment of sin from us and making us your people for now and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.