Sermon #873 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Good News For Troubled Saints
Text: Zephaniah 3:17
Subject: God’s joy in his people
Date: Sunday Morning - September 3, 1989
I have a very dear friend in Ashland, Bro. John Howson, who for several years has been confined to a wheel chair. The disease which is gradually taking his life from him makes the most simple bodily movements a painful ordeal, if not impossible. But John is a cheerful, happy man, content with Christ and his good providence. For quite sometime, he has been getting our tapes, bulletins, and tracts, and sending them to a lot of people. A few weeks ago, 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 can 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. I began preparing this message that day.
The text John gave me is 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.”
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).
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.
I. “THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY THY JUDGMENTS.”
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. We are not talking about what the Lord wants to do, hopes to do, or has tried to do. We are 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. That is redemption!
B. He has taken away our spiritual death, the consequence of judgment (Col. 1:13-14). 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).
II. “HE HATH CAST OUT THINE ENEMY.”
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 power 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).
D. And the Lord Jesus Christ will cast Satan into the pit of the damned at the last day (Rev. 20:10).
III. “THE KING OF ISRAEL, EVEN THE LORD, IS IN THE MIDST OF THEE.”
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).
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 omnipotent 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.
IV. “THOU SHALT NOT SEE EVIL ANYMORE!”
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!
V. “THE LORD THY GOD IN THE MIDST OF THEE IS MIGHTY!”
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 Mn 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.
VI. “HE WILL SAVE!”
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!”
Stay with me. The news 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…
VII. “HE WILL REJOICE OVER THEE WITH JOY!”
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).
VIII. “HE WILL REST IN HIS LOVE!”
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!
IX. “HE WILL JOY OVER THEE WITH SINGING!”
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!
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).