One of the characteristics of the Christian life that I lack is joy. Often, when I read someone like John Piper, I get a distinct sense that I am light-years away from where he is in his enjoyment of God. So the question I have to ask is, “Why should I rejoice?”

Zephaniah 3:14-15
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 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.

Verse 14 describes the rejoicing of Israel — singing, shouting, rejoicing, exulting with all their heart! And why?

  • The LORD has taken away the judgments against you. What a great promise! This is one that does encourage me. When I see my sin, I often forget that Christ already bore the punishment for it. There’s an old Michael Card song called “Jubilee” that includes the following lyrics: “To be so completely guilty / Given over to despair / To look into your judge’s face / And see a Savior there.” What a great reminder that the same God who would judge us is now the one who saves us. The deck is stacked in our favor.
  • He has cleared away your enemies. No one can condemn us if God has justified us (Romans 8:33-34). What a hope — I should never be afraid of how others see my sin as long as God has forgiven me.
  • The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst. The people may not have been used to thinking of God as their king. But Christ Jesus is our king, and not an aloof ruler either — He is here among us! He will not leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5), and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
  • You shall never again fear evil. The Hebrew word translated “evil” can also mean “disaster” or “harm.” Basically, God is saying to the people that because He is in their midst, they have no reason to be afraid of bad things happening to them. That’s a good reminder for me not to be pessimistic, dwelling on worst-case scenarios, but to live each moment trusting in the God who hems me in, behind and before (Psalm 139:5).

So there are four perfectly good reasons to rejoice. I’m going to spend some time meditating on them tomorrow. More than just knowing the truth, I want to love it.