Zephaniah is at it again – speaking for God. He is an “Equal Opportunity Prophet,” not only calling out Judah and then pronouncing judgment on all the nations! Well, on all of creation, actually. Here’s a little sample: “‘I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth’, says the Lord. ‘I will sweep away humans and animals. I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will make the wicked stumble. I will cut off humanity from the face of the earth.'” Not exactly Christmas card material.
The old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” seems especially appropriate when reading those Old Testament prophets, those spokes-models for God. “Repent! Warning! Judgment is coming!” As Frederick Buechner said, “The prophets were drunk on God, and in the presence of their terrible tipsiness, no one was ever comfortable.”
We are half-way through Advent, half-way to Christmas. With so many discouraging words on the evening news, bad news on the radio, and shocking events online, I could use some good news, something to anticipate with excitement. Well, this week, we have some good news, because Zephaniah’s warnings are followed with these words of promise (Zeph. 3:16-18).
When that Day comes, the message for Jerusalem will be: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. Yahweh your God is there with you, the Warrior-savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by his love, he will dance with shouts of joy for you, on a day of festival.
I have pictured God in many ways: old, wise, kind, smiling, laughing, crying, even grieving. But this image painted by Zephaniah is a new one for me: a dancing God, dancing and shouting over the future of his people, over you! Join us this Sunday as we listen to the music of God and learn how to dance the jig of God!
Close your eyes. Breath deeply. Inhale God’s presence. It is Advent and indeed, it is delight.