Zephaniah: Preparing for the Coming of Christ Pt 3

Preparing for the Coming of Christ-3
Zephaniah 3.1-20
{For this sermon, you will really be helped by listening while reviewing the manuscript.

Merciful God, who did send your messengers the prophets – including Zephaniah – to preach repentance and prepare the way of salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings, forsake our sins, and prepare for the coming of Christ that we may greet with joy the coming of our Redeemer. Amen (adapted and modified from The Book of Common Prayer).

One aspect of Christmas time is how easily we get lost in the scurrying about with the preening of trees, decking homes with wreaths, buying clothes and toys, travelling and visiting family. Nothing wrong with any of those things, it’s just how easily and quickly they can consume us. But the true tale that lies behind Christmas is about God coming in Jesus Christ, establishing his presence among humanity (Immanuel) and moving humanity, history and his handiwork toward the great, adventurous final coming of Christ. Let us prepare for the Coming of Christ.

The Day of the Lord:
1.     Based on God’s Righteousness (5). They were V.1- Rebellious, polluted and Oppressive; V. 2-Disobedient, unwilling to be corrected (they wouldn’t even learn from other’s failures-6-7) and not drawing near to God; V.3 and 4-From Princes all the way to Priests; V.5-Knew no shame; V.7 they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt.

2.     Purging but not Annihilating (8-9). [Lamentation 3.33: “…for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.”]

3.     Worldwide Transformation (9-13). Luke 1.78-79! “…the prophet depicts the formation of a new community of holy people. This restored remnant shall consist not only of a purged and forgiven group from Israel (cf. 3:11-13). The converted from the nations shall join with his people in the worship and service of the one true God (3:9-10)” (O. Palmer Robertson, “The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, & Zephaniah”, 327). John 12.31; 3.16-17!

4.     A Day of Rejoicing (14-20). There are Carols in Heaven (so to speak):

God rest you merry, Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day, to save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray; O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.
“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “let nothing you affright; this day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright, to free all those who trust in him from Satan’s power and might.” O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy (Trinity Hymnal 211).

Preparing for the Coming of Christ:

1st – Christ’s initial coming put into motion what will be clearly seen at Christ’s final coming. God, in Christ, is purging not annihilating. He is bringing about a worldwide transformation. Therefore, at Christmas, as we rehearse the story in carols, Christmas Eve services, and Scripture readings, we should be thinking about missions and evangelism, so that at his coming one last time: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb(Rev. 7.9-10)!

2nd – When we sing Christmas Carols, tune your ears to hear God singing over you, yes you! He sings over you because the delight of his heart has been accomplished: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”(Romans 5.8-11)!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come / Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room / And heaven and nature sing!

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns / Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods Rocks, hills and plains / Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow / Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow / Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace / And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness / And wonders of His love.
(Trinity Hymnal 195)

Prepare for the coming of Christ by embracing the Christ who has come!


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