Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, October 12, 2014

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In chapter three the prophet abruptly shifts from God’s anger against the surrounding nations back to Jerusalem. God comes right to the point when He describes the core of the problem in ancient Israel as well as in our lives: the unwillingness to listen to God, to accept correction, not willing to place our trust in the Lord, and not drawing near to our God as we should. All the rest that goes wrong are consequences, symptoms of our unwillingness to have a close relationship with God. This stands in great contrast with the description of God in verse five: His unchanging righteousness and  dispensing His love and justice morning by morning.
Starting in verse 6, God becomes very personal when He talks as a first person. We may understand God’s disappointment that although the people of Judah had seen God’s judgment on the nearby nations, yet they were not willing to honor God and accept correction.  We can draw the same conclusions from that what is happening in our world today!  The devil is an expert in keeping us so busy with our every-day concerns that we do not see the bigger picture.

Verse 9, marks an amazing turning point in the chapter: God will purify His people and gather them together. Purification is not an easy process, it may hurt but without this process an open wound will not heal.  Again we realize that it is not us who brought about the change, but it is God’s intervention: He purifies our lips so that we can truely worship Him and serve Him as we stand shoulder to shoulder. The only thing we have to do is to respond to His intervention on our behalf, and He will continue to work in us and through us. Thus His promise will come true when He says: The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord.

Verses 14 to 20, represent a jewel in the Bible:  God invites us to sing, to rejoice because He is acting on behalf of His people, and because God Himself is rejoicing over them. We may imagine what it means for a child to see that his father or mother are rejoicing because of him. So we may also allow the thought that God is rejoicing over you and me.  Of course this is no reason for us to boast, but to enjoy the love of our God and Creator.  Verse 17 says: He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. 

What a picture! God rejoicing over us with singing! The image that comes to my mind is the image of a bridegroom clothing his bride with beautiful garments and then rejoicing as he sees her in her beauty. God is dealing in a wonderful and amazing way with us. Let us praise Him for who He is!

Norbert Zens, Treasurer
Inter-European Division
Bern, Switzerland