Quiet you with love

This is written by Laura Hopwood. She has been coming to St Mary's for about a year, after her friend said "you should go, the people are nice and the food is good". She loves dogs, dark chocolate McVitie's biscuits and dancing.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Saviour [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.


The book of Zephaniah begins with an unravelling of the creation of the earth: humanity and animals, birds of the air and then fish of the sea, all swept away. "I will consume and sweep away" is repeated three times, this pattern often being used to signify complete perfection in the Bible. The author takes two and a half chapters to fully describe this total devastation of humanity. Footnotes: God is angry.

God's justice is described as a "fire of jealous anger" and it is coming for the corrupt, for those who were arrogant in their security, and for the idolaters. The author talks of those in "fortified cities and corner towers" (2:16 NIV) and says that "neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them" (2:18). So perhaps not great news for those living in gated communities in Judah circa 630BC.

However, God's fire of justice is restorative, not destructive, for the remnant. As we see time and time again in the Bible, God flips the human understanding of power on its head. The remnant aren't the culture's elite, those who benefit from the power structures that the world values. Instead he promises to "rescue the lame", "gather the exiles" and give them "praise and honour in every land where they have suffered shame" (3:19). And it is amongst this promise of hope for the oppressed, rather than the oppressors, that we find this exuberant verse 3:17. God is with the afflicted, a saviour who rejoices, exults, and sings over them.

What's interesting is that between rejoicing, God rests. A cycle of singing and silence and singing again, each informing the other. Earlier in the chapter, the author writes that God promises to give us "clear and pure speech" and unite us in "one unanimous consent" (3:9). So as we go forward today, may we sing with pure lips and may we find a silent satisfaction in our togetherness.
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