Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
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.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
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
as on a day of festival.
This is the Word of the Lord.
As an Advent message for 21st century Christians, today’s scripture might seem to fully point to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lord in our midst. But it was a message of hope for Jewish faithful given to the faithful sometime in the period of 640-609 BC. The Hebrew children were unfaithful and in need of purging which happened in 612 BC when the Babylonians defeated Assyria and took the Hebrews into exile. Zephaniah gave the people of his day a hopeful glimpse of the “Day of the Lord” that was to come.
For Advent, we can use this old prophesy and reflect on it as if it were foretelling the coming of Immanuel (God with us) who is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Truly we rejoice in our hearts with gladness; singing exulting songs for the Son of God’s coming to us to show us God’s love and the message He brought us that became our Way to eternal life with God. He was not the warrior Zephaniah had promised, but He was our King of Love who taught us that goodness will overcome evil and that showing kindness to all will have eternal rewards. We look with great anticipation to the day of celebration of Christ’s birth anew in our hearts in 2015.
Dear God, we thank You for the gift of Your Son which we celebrate this month. We ask your forgiveness for our emphasis on worldly things during our Christmas season that often overshadow the true emphasis that we should fully embrace. We rejoice with the angels, singing our Christmas carols with enthusiasm to retell the wonderful story of the coming to earth of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please help us to hold your Son close to us and keep His message in our hearts to keep Christmas holy this year and to answer His call to share our faith with all who need to know God in the coming year. We know that Your Son was also called The Prince of Peace and our hope and prayer for the world in 2016 is for peace to come where war and turmoil has prevailed. We ask our prayer in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.