“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
I absolutely love rivers: how the water glimmers, imbued with brilliant hues of green and blue; how the current dances on a floor of boulders, composing graceful music that welcomes all to breathe deeply of its tranquility. This is the atmosphere emanating from The Bow River in the Canadian Rockies.
But last summer, this same river became a raging torrent that destroyed everything in its path. In just two days, the water level rose fivefold, causing the worst, most expensive flood on record for the province of Alberta. People beheld the destructive wrath of this once peaceful river.
This juxtaposition of the same river exuding both serenity and calamity sometimes reminds me of God. For instance, today’s verse from Zephaniah is a favorite among Christians; it portrays God as a gentle, forgiving and inviting father. The image is very comforting, much like a river often is. But up to that point in Zephaniah, verse after verse lays out God’s plan of judgment—the deluge of wrath that was coming upon his disobedient people.
Comforting verses like Zephaniah 3:7 are nothing but hallmark sentiment if we forget about the wrath of God. There is only one reason that you and I haven’t already been swallowed up in hell. And there’s only one person preventing us from receiving the full brunt of God’s anger—Jesus Christ. He took upon Himself all wrath and divine displeasure for our wrongdoings. And through Him we get to step into the welcoming river of God’s love.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 (ESV) (emphasis mine)
Father God, thank You for protecting us from Your holy anger. All of us deserve eternal separation from You, but You allowed Your own beloved Son to die for our sins. You unleashed your wrath on Him so we can walk boldly up to Your throne of grace without fear of condemnation. Thank You so much! Amen.
Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and mediate on the many blessings you’ve received in Christ. Then spend a few minutes worshiping and thanking Jesus for being condemned in your place.
“Once you see God as he is, you'll see your life in a whole new light."
Read: God: Discover His Character by Bill Bright