Meditating on God
Will 2021 be a better year than 2020? No one knows. But as believers in Jesus, we have something special—no matter what happens.
Health experts agree that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good thing. So I do this “good thing” regularly, and I can tell you that my Oy veys grow louder every time I start walking. But I can also tell you that setting time aside to walk has been wonderful. I listen to sermons and meditate on Scripture as I stroll through my neighborhood.
In 2020, which I now call the year of the plague, I cherished the time I spent walking. It provided a respite from dealing with COVID-19, the unparalleled angst over the presidential election here in the United States, hate speech, murders, arson, and looting in the streets.
Almost every time I walked, the Lord brought Zephaniah 3:17 to mind: “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.”
Although the verse concerns Israel, it also contains application for us today.
The prophet Zephaniah lived during dark days in the history of Judah, which was the southern and Davidic kingdom. Bible commentator David M. Levy described it as a time of “social, moral, and religious decay.”1 Zephaniah called Jerusalem “filthy and polluted” (Zeph. 3:1, KJV) and charged the political authorities (princes and judges) and religious leaders (priests and prophets) with treachery and corruption (vv. 3–4).
God sent Zephaniah to warn His people that judgment was coming: Their houses would become “a desolation” (1:13), their men would become distressed (v. 17), and their land would be “devoured” (v. 18). Zephaniah was to sound the alarm that the day of God’s wrath was approaching.
Can you imagine living in a country characterized by such horrendous conditions? Political and religious leaders were hopelessly corrupt, cities were in major distress, and people’s hearts were far from God. Oh, wait. No imagination needed. We live in those conditions now.
Yet Zephaniah did not leave Judah without hope. A day will come when God will save His people. He will fight for them, triumph for them, and rejoice over them with singing (3:17). God guarantees that future day in His promises to Israel. He will preserve the Jewish people and their land, even through troubled times: “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” (v. 17).
Since this promise involves Israel, you may be wondering how it applies to us today. Though not all Scripture is about us, all Scripture is intended for us. Verse 17 should encourage us greatly as we enter 2021. Here is why:
The Lord your God in your midst. The Lord is with us. As believers in Jesus, God is with us wherever we are, regardless of current events or personal circumstances. We are indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30) and can depend on His presence. He is with us, will never leave us, and is working through us to accomplish His plan and purpose for us. How amazing is that?
The Mighty One. Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, is also our victorious warrior. Eugene Bartlett had it right when he wrote the music and lyrics to the wonderful hymn “Victory in Jesus.” We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Regardless of what corrupt politicians and rulers may do, the church is already victorious because Jesus won the victory for us.
He will save. Jesus saved us. That saving power is not limited to a past event. The apostle Peter wrote,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again [past] to a living hope [present] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved [future] in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3–5).
Not only did Jesus save us, but He also keeps us saved and will glorify us in Himself at the Rapture or after our deaths, whichever comes first. All believers will behold Him in eternity.
I can’t help but wonder if Peter wrote this verse after remembering when he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink as he walked on the Sea of Galilee (Mt. 14:22–34). Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v. 30). Jesus saved Peter and kept him saved all the way to heaven. He does the same for us, who are citizens of heaven through faith in Him. We are secure.
He will rejoice over you with gladness. God will rejoice when Israel is restored and redeemed. But He also rejoices over each one of us in the body of Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:11). We can share in that joy regardless of our circumstances.
He will quiet you with His love. I know for certain 2021 will not be the same as 2020. It could be better, or it could be worse. Yet Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28–30).
He will rejoice over you with singing. God will sing when Israel is finally redeemed. I can’t help but think He sings for His redeemed church as well.
A good friend of mine is fighting cancer. She knows I pray for her and sent me a note telling me her nephew shared Zephaniah 3:17 with her. “He said he believed God was singing over me,” she wrote. “And I responded saying, ‘That really blessed the socks off me!’ That got me to wondering what exactly does that music sound like. I’m old fashioned and love gospel quartets and trios, but when I looked to see what heaven’s music is going to be like, according to Revelation 5, the music is going to be loud, noisy, repetitive, and colorful. Each country has its own praise and worship that I can’t appreciate, but I’m sure that will all change when some from all nations will be together praising our Savior. So, I guess I’ll just enjoy what I’m used to and believe that’s how the Lord is singing to me here and now.”
I plan to continue walking 10,000 steps a day in 2021. But more important, I will continue to meditate on God who is with me, conquering for me, saving me, rejoicing over me, loving me, and singing over me. My prayer is that no matter what the new year has in store for you, you will meditate on Him as well.
- David M. Levy, When Prophets Speak of Judgment (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1998), 92.