Advent 3 -
December 13, 2009
Rev. S. D.
Spencer - Pastor
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has
taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King
of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that
day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow
weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will
rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult
over you with loud singing. So far the
Grace, mercy and peace from God our
Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, amen!
It was a new
era in Judah. The country must have been filled with anticipation. For 55 years
the nation of Judah had been ruled one king.
Manasseh was the son of
King Hezekiah and he began his reign at age 12. He rebuilt the heathen altars
that his father had destroyed - the altars of Baal. He even built pagan altars
in both courts of the Temple of the Lord, for worshiping the sun, moon and
stars. Manasseh ruled longer than any other Hebrew king.
Manasseh sacrificed his own
children as burnt offerings in the valley of Hinnom. He consulted spirit
mediums, fortune tellers and sorcerers. He angered the Lord by encouraging every
sort of evil (2 Chronicles 33:4-6). He also murdered large numbers of innocent
people (2 Kings 21:16).
Warnings by the Lord were
ignored by both Manasseh and his people, so God sent the Assyrian armies to
capture him and take him into captivity. It was while in captivity that he came
to his senses and cried out to God for help. As recorded in 2 Chronicles 33:13,
The Lord answered his prayers by returning him to Jerusalem. At that point
Manasseh realized that the Lord was really God.
Manasseh removed the
foreign idols from the hills and the Temple and tore down the pagan altars. He
then rebuilt the altar of the Lord, and offered sacrifices upon it. When
Manasseh died, he was buried beneath his own palace, and his son Amon became the
new king. The story of Manasseh is found in 2 Kings 21:1-17, and 2 Chronicles
Amon, son of King Manasseh,
became king of Judah at age 22. He reigned only 2 years. Amon's reign was an
evil one, just as were the earlier years of the reign of his father, Manasseh.
Amon sacrificed to pagan idols just as his father did. Amon had learned his
wickedness in his youth from his father.
But, unlike his father,
Amon didn't change; instead he sinned more and more. Finally, his own officers
assassinated him in his palace. Then, some citizens killed all those who
assassinated him, and declared his son Josiah to be the new king (2 Chronicles
33:22-25). Amon was buried in a crypt in the garden of Uzza. The story of Amon
is found in 2 Kings 21:18-26, and 2 Chronicles 33:20-25.
That brings us up to our
text today. The nation of Judah was now under the new rule of Josiah the son of
Amon. Josiah like his father and grandfather began his rule of Judah in a wicked
and perverse way. In the Temple of Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, were idols
from many pagan religions. The practice of worship had become tainted by synergy
- by blending of the worship of pagan idols with that of Jewish rite. Our God
is a jealous God and will not share His altar with false gods.
Just verses before our text
today the prophets Zephaniah says: “Woe
to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not
obeyed His voice, She has not received correction; She has not trusted in the
LORD, She has not drawn near to her God. Her princes in her midst are roaring
lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning. Her
prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the
sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The LORD is righteous in her
midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to
light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.”
The false gods
that filled the temple in Jerusalem were Baal and other fertility gods. Every
form a sexual perversity was being practiced in Jerusalem in those dark days.
Zephaniah’s words were a
warning to the people of Jerusalem. Repent, prepare for the coming of the Lord.
For God will come swiftly and bring judgment. As I said before, “Our
God is a jealous God and will not share His altar with false gods.”
But were those words just
for the people of Zephaniah’s day?
The other night on ABC
World News, Charlie Gibson quoted a Pew Forum Poll. It said that spirituality is
up 22% in our nation. But that same poll said that 60% of all those who profess
to be weekly church attendees believe in things like astrology and
reincarnation. The article went on to explain and I quote:
“nearly six in 10 Americans from all religions blend their faith with New
Age and Eastern beliefs, like astrology, reincarnation, and the spiritual – not
just physical – benefits of yoga.”
Zephaniah’s warning may
have been to Jerusalem but it is indeed as valid for you and me today, right
now, in our times. For
“Our God is a jealous God
and will not share His altar with false gods.”
There are only two
religions, the true religion founded in the faith of the triune God or the
religion of man. The triune God says, “You
shall have no other Gods before me.”
The religion of man
says I will choose what I want to believe. But you can’t have it both ways.
Either the true God of Scripture is the Lord of your life, the only God in your
life or you have no life at all. Matthew 7:13 &14
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that
leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it For the gate is small,
and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
The world tells us that we need to be more accepting, more accommodating and
more tolerant of those who hold non Christian beliefs and values. But in the end
any path other than the belief in the triune God leads to destruction.
We live in a dark age.
Society no longer professes and teaches Judeo / Christian values. People who
live with morals and ethics are often seen as archaic and backwards. People who
hold to salvation by Jesus Christ alone are now in the minority and not in the
majority. But don’t be surprised by this. It was the same way in Zephaniah’s
day. Things were dark; things are always dark before the coming of the Lord.
Perhaps it’s time for us to
hear Zephaniah’s message. “Shout
for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with
all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away His judgments
against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is
in your midst; You will fear disaster no more”
(Zephaniah 3:14-15). King Josiah repented and had all the idols removed from
the Temple, the Lord was restored to His house. It once again became the Lord’s
dwelling place. The Lord removed His judgments against His people. He crushed
the enemy and banished them from their presence.
That message is also for
you. God has taken His judgments away from you. He has cleared your enemies away
for you. He has removed fear away from you. How you might ask? Because God has
defeated the enemies that once opposed you. At the cross Jesus defeated sin,
death and the devil. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57:
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of
death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The day has
come, Zephaniah says:
“On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Fear not, O Zion; let not your
hands grow weak.”
Zephaniah says: Fear not!
NO FEAR, NO FEAR! 1
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear
involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
You have NO FEAR
because perfect love cast out all fear. You have been perfected in love, the
love of Jesus Christ. If you feel fear, look to the cross, know God’s love for
Fear robs us. It robs us of
peace and harmony and joy. It makes our bodies weak and our hands feeble. "Fear
imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens,
faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes
“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice
over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over
you with singing."
Jesus is with you. The mighty one is with you always even to the ends of the
age. When God is in your presence who can overcome you? No one! You have no need
to fear, NO FEAR! With such knowledge let fear be replaced with rejoicing.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I
will say, Rejoice.
aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your
heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against
you; he has cleared away your enemies.”
He (T) has
forgiven your sin. Jesus is coming soon and he coming to take you home. May we
be bold to pray, Come Lord Jesus, come! In Jesus name, amen and amen!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!