The Wickedness of Jerusalem
The wicked city . . .
Ah, soiled, defiled,
2 It has listened to no voice;
it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord;
it has not drawn near to its God.
I like the translation/repetition of verse 2 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible:
She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in Yahweh;
she has not drawn near to her God.
3 The officials within it
are roaring lions;
its judges are evening wolves
that leave nothing until the morning.
4 Its prophets are reckless,
its priests have profaned what is sacred,
they have done violence to the law.
The righteous God . . .
5 The Lord within it is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Jeremiah 23:6 (NIV)
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.
Every morning he renders his judgment,
each dawn without fail;
but the unjust knows no shame.
This makes the unrighteousness of His people even more criminal and tragic. God has been nothing but righteous to them, yet they respond with sin. Eventually they put themselves on the wrong side of God’s righteousness and face His justice.
6 I have cut off nations;
their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
without people, without inhabitants.
7 I said, “Surely the city will fear me,
it will accept correction;
it will not lose sight
of all that I have brought upon it.”
But they were the more eager
to make all their deeds corrupt.
Punishment and Conversion of the Nations
First judgment . . .
8 Therefore wait for me, says the Lord,
for the day when I arise as a witness.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
all the heat of my anger;
for in the fire of my passion
all the earth shall be consumed.
Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV)
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
and their doom rushes upon them.”
9 At that time I will change the speech of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
my suppliants, my scattered ones,
shall bring my offering.
11 On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain.
12 For I will leave in the midst of you
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord—
13 the remnant of Israel;
they shall do no wrong
and utter no lies,
nor shall a deceitful tongue
be found in their mouths.
Then they will pasture and lie down,
and no one shall make them afraid.
A Song of Joy
Then mercy . . .
14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
Elizabeth Browning, in her poem, The Seraphim, describes the angels watching the work of the Son of God on earth. At last, seeing with stupefied amazement the incarnation and ultimately the cross, one angel looks at this host of ransomed souls and says to the other,
“Hereafter shall the blood bought captives raise their passion song of blood.”
And the other angel replies,
“And we extend our holy vacant hands toward the throne and cry, ‘We have no music.'”
You see, only the redeemed can sing like this. After the darkness, after the slaughter, after the terrible destruction comes the time of the singing. That is what God is after in your life. That is possible on the level of the Spirit right now when God deals death’s stroke against the flesh within us and brings us through that painful experience of saying no to the ego and the self-life. There follows the time of the singing, the time that he is after, the reason he takes us through the pain and the darkness. What you see to be true of the individual life will also be true on the whole wide canvas of history as God brings human history to an end.
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.
Love cannot help loving, any more than water can help flowing. It is pure joy just to love. The love of God follows us wherever we go and whatever we are doing. That we know nothing of it does not matter. That we are wholly occupied in our work does not matter.
I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me (Song of Solomon 7:10).
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Is it not utterly wonderful? He finds pleasure in loving us. To love is the joy of God. And this love, this very love, is the love He sheds abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Is there one of us who would wish to hurt or to ignore love like that?
18 as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19 I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
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.
We often underestimate the joy God has in His people, and too often think God is annoyed or irritated with us:
“Faulty as the church is, the Lord rejoices in her. While we mourn, as well we may, yet we do not sorrow as those that are without hope; for God does not sorrow, his heart is glad, and he is said to rejoice with joy — a highly emphatic expression. Think of the great Jehovah singing! Can you imagine it? Is it possible to conceive of the Deity breaking into a song: Father, Son and Holy Ghost together singing over the redeemed? God is so happy in the love which he bears to his people that he breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.”
David Guzik, quoting Spurgeon
HERE is Zephaniah 3:17 put to music. Good encouragement for us today!