Here is Advent IV
For Sunday December 23, 2018
The message today is drawn from the angel’s visit to the humble shepherds out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock. Similarly, the old testament prophet, Zephaniah, spoke to the humble of his flock. Zephaniah 2:3 reads: “Seek the Lord all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility, perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Zephaniah pleads with Judah to humbly return to the Lord. As one translation puts it, Zephaniah calls to the meek of the earth. The meek of the earth realize that they must search beyond themselves for help. They must look outside of their own capabilities to find a life of righteousness. They are not so proud as to think they can accomplish any right living on their own. Zephaniah implores Judah to pursue God not vanities.
To those who humbly seek God, Zephaniah proclaims Israel’s joy and restoration. Zephaniah 3:14-17 reads:
Sing, O daughter of Zion, shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken way your punishment, He has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah’s prophecy, like the angel’s declarations, bids us come and seek God.
In his book, the Dawning of Indestructible Joy, John Piper says, “Is it not a wonderful thing this Advent season, to know that God bids us come? That this great, holy God of righteousness and wrath says, “Draw near to me through my Son, your High Priest. Draw near to me. Draw near to me”?”
“This is his invitation in these Advent readings: “Draw near to me through your High Priest. Draw near to me in confession and prayer and meditation and trust and praise. Come. I will not cast you out.”
Let us pray.
Father we lift our thanksgiving in song and prayer.
You have given us a mighty warrior who saves.
You have given us Jesus, Emmanuel, one with us.
You do not cast us out, but You sing over us.
May we humbly seek You.
May we turn from ourselves to You.
May we be Your nation, Your people, Your beloved children.
We pray in Jesus’ name.