Sermon #14661                             Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:       Good News For Troubled Saints

     Text:       Zephaniah 3:17

     Subject:  God’s Joy In His People

     Date:       Monday Evening – August13, 2001

                   Rock Creek Baptist ChurchNorth Wilkesboro, NC

     Tape #   

     Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20


[Zephaniah 3:14-20]  Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. [15] The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. [16] In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. [17] The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. [18] I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. [19] Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. [20] At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.




I have a very dear friend in glory. Bro. John Howson. He used to live in Ashland, KY. He was for many, many years been confined to a wheel chair. The disease which gradually took his life from him made the most simple bodily movements a painful ordeal, if not impossible. But John was one of the most cheerful, happy men I ever knew, content with Christ and his good providence. He used to get all our tapes, bulletins, and tracts, and sent them to a lot of people around the world. Shortly before he went home to glory, I got a brief note from him. As always, his note was encouraging. At the end of that note (typed out on a word processor, because John could no longer write), he had typed in a text of scripture. When I read the text, I read his note again, realized who had written it, and began both to repent and to rejoice in God my Savior. Here was a saint of God with many troubles. But he had found some good news. And he shared it with me.


This message is taken from the text with which my friend encouraged my heart. -- Zephaniah 3:17. The title of my message is Good News For Troubled Saints. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”


     John Gill wrote, “Every word (in this text) carries in it something very encouraging to the church and people of God; and is an antidote against those fears and faintings they are subject to.”


A Prophecy of Judgment


The Book of Zephaniah is a prophecy of judgment. It expresses the sins of the nations. And it exposes the sins of God’s people. We deserve wrath as much as anyone else. We are as guilty as the rest of the world. What evil have other men done that we have not done in thought, if not in deed?


The nature of the reprobate is our nature. His heart is our heart. His thoughts are our thoughts. And his deeds are our deeds. Yet, while God pours out his wrath upon others, he pours out his love, mercy, and grace upon us (1 Cor. 4:7). Therefore, the Prophet Zephaniah calls upon redeemed sinners to sing and rejoice, even in the midst of trouble (v. 14).


[Zephaniah 3:14]  Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.


Proposition: Child of God, no matter what the trouble is that breaks your heart, weighs upon your soul, or dampens your spirit, I have good news which ought to make you rejoice and sing with all your heart.


I am saying “to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack” (v. 16).


     In verses 15 and 17, the Prophet of God gives us nine reasons to rejoice and sing, nine reasons not to fear, nine reasons to be steadfast and immovable in the work of the Lord. Keep your Bible open on you lap. I do not want you to miss a word.




The rest of the world, by reason of sin and guilt, is under the wrath of God. But “the Lord hath taken away thy judgments.” That is good news. I am not talking about what the Lord wants to do, hopes to do, or has tried to do. I am talking about what the Lord has done. “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments.”


By the work of his free, almighty, and sovereign grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, has taken away our judgments.


A.  He has taken away our sins, the cause of judgment (Heb. 9:26; Psa. 103:12).


[Psalms 103:10-12]  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. [11] For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. [12] As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.


That is redemption!


B. He has taken away our spiritual death, the consequence of judgment (Col. 1:13-14).


[Colossians 1:12-14]  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:


That is the new birth!


C. He has taken away the curse of the law, the sentence of judgment (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:1, 32-34).


1.   Redemption accomplished - Christ redeemed us from the hands of the law when he died at Calvary (Heb. 9:12).

2.   Redemption applied - Christ delivered us from the bondage of guilt when he gave us faith (Heb. 9:14).




Satan came into the land of man’s soul by the door of sin as an invading enemy. But Christ, our mighty Man of War, the Captain of our Salvation, has cast him out.


A.  God cast Satan out of heaven as soon as he began to oppose God’s purpose of grace toward us (Ezek. 28:14-17).


B. The Son of God broke Satan’s usurped power and dominion over the nations of the world at the cross, and in that sense, cast him out when he died as our Substitute (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31; Rev. 20).


C. Our Savior casts Satan out of the hearts of his people in regeneration by the power of his Spirit, so that we are no longer in bondage to and under the rule of the prince of darkness (Isa. 49:24-25; Matt. 12:28-29).


[Isaiah 49:24-25]  Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? [25] But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.


[Matthew 12:28-29]  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. [29] Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.


D. And the Lord Jesus Christ will cast Satan into the pit of the damned at the last day (Rev. 20:10).




The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of Israel, the King of his church. And he is in the midst of us. Did you hear that? Child of God, the Lord is with you. That ought to fill us with unspeakable joy, peace, and security (Isa. 41:10).


[Isaiah 41:10]  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.


[Isaiah 43:1-5]  But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. [2] When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. [3] For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. [4] Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. [5] Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;


[Philippians 4:4]  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.


     Christ is always near at hand (Phil. 4:4). He is near to support us and supply our needs. He is near to assist and strengthen us. He is near to protect and defend us. When Zephaniah says, “The Lord is in the midst of thee,” his meaning is threefold:


A.  He is essentially present, because he is the omnipresent God.


B. He is providentially present, because he is determined to do us good.


C. He is graciously present, because he promised never to leave us nor forsake us.




What a promise! “There shall no evil happen to the just” (Prov. 12:21). “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him” (Isa. 3:10). The Lord God will not turn away from you to do you good!


     As Bro. Scott Richardson put it, “There’s been no bad news since I got the good news!”




When Zephaniah was delivering this message, after saying, “The Lord is in the midst of thee,” seems to think, “Oh, I mean to say not only that the LORD is in the midst of thee, but also to say, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” I’m glad he remembered to put that in!


A.  He who is in the midst of us is the LORD Jehovah, the Being of beings, the eternal, immutable, all-sufficient God.


B. He is the LORD thy God!


1.   He is ours by his own covenant grace.

2.   He is our by his miraculous incarnation - “God with us!”

3.   He is ours by his great gift of faith.


C. And he who is the LORD our God is Mighty!


He is the Almighty God, the Omnipotent Creator, and the All-Powerful Mediator and Savior. All power in heaven and earth has been given to that Man who is our God. Therefore he is able to…


1.     Save us to the uttermost.

2.     Deliver us from the hand of every enemy.

3.     Keep us in the midst of every temptation.

4.     Sustain us in every trial.

5.     And bring us safe into his heavenly kingdom.




The Lord our God is not only able but also willing to save (Micah 7:18-20).


A.  He readily undertook to save us in the covenant of grace.


B. He came in the fulness of time to seek and to save that which was lost.


C. He has wrought out salvation for us by his obedience unto death.


D. He sees to it that salvation is applied to every chosen, redeemed sinner.


E.  And he will come again to put us in full possession of that salvation he has accomplished for us.


·        He saves us freely, fully, and everlastingly.

·        He saves from sin, Satan, the law, hell, and wrath.

·        He will save us from every temporal and every spiritual enemy in time and to eternity. “He will save!”

·        Sooner or later, he will save us from all our troubles.


[Psalms 25:22]  Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.


[Psalms 34:6]  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.


     Stay with me. The news good gets better still! “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments - He hath cast out thine enemy - The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee - Thou shalt not see evil anymore - The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty - He will save!” Now read the seventh line of our text…




Shall God rejoice over us? Indeed he does! He rejoices over his elect with exceeding, great, inexpressible joy. The inspired prophet is searching for words to describe God’s joy over his people. As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, rejoices over us his people (Isa. 62:3-5; 61:10). And when we stand before him on that great day, he will publicly rejoice over us (Rev. 19:1-9).


[Isaiah 62:3-5]  Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. [4] Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. [5] For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.


[Isaiah 61:10]  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.


[Revelation 19:1-9]  And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: [2] For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. [3] And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. [4] And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. [5] And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. [6] And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. [7] Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. [8] And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. [9] And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.




Now hear the meaning of these words - The Lord Jesus Christ finds great complacency, delight, and satisfaction in loving us and in expressing his love to us! It is pleasing to him to love us! He solaces himself in it!


     There is not a greater, fuller verbal expression of Christ’s love for us in all the Bible than this, “He will rest in his love.” He says to us, “Thou hast ravished my heart” (Song of Sol. 4:9). O what infinite, condescending grace! God not only loves us, but he loves to love us! He is pleased that he chose us as the objects of his love! Oh, my heart, be ravished with his love! Christ’s love for us is…


·        Without cause!

·        Without beginning!

·        Without change!

·        Without end!


This phrase might be translated, “He will be silent, because of his love.”


·        Our Lord will not upbraid us because of our sins.

·        He will never speak a word of anger or wrath to us.

·        And he will put all of our enemies to silence as well.


As one completely overwhelmed with love for another is often speechless at the sight of the one he loves, when they have been separated for a long, long time, so Christ is speechless because of his love!




Again, the prophet is searching for words to describe Christ’s love for us. He rejoices over us with joy and joys with singing! He is telling us that God himself is delighted that we are his people, his chosen, redeemed, called ones. We are his Hephzibah, in whom he delights. We are his Beulah, to whom he is married. And he wants no one else!


Application:    Now, in the light of these things, I say…


1.     Children of God, “Be glad and rejoice with all your heart.”

2.     “Fear thou not!”

3.     “Let not thine hands be slack.”

·        Hands of prayer.

·        Hands of praise.

·        Hands of labor (1 Cor. 15:58).

1 See #873 preached at Danville – 09/03/89 (AM)