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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 3:16-20 (ESV)

Posted on June 06, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:16-20 (ESV) - On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
    let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
    so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

Behold, at that time I will deal
    with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
    at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
    before your eyes,” says the LORD.

Question to consider: How did the LORD deal with Israel's oppressors and restore her fortunes?

Today we continue with the vision for Israel of their King, the LORD, being in their midst. If you went through my study of Deuteronomy 6, the LORD said that those who loved Him would bind the Law to their hands and foreheads and teach it to their children and neighbors. Rather than literally strapping phylacteries (leather boxes containing scripture) to their hands and foreheads, hands and foreheads were symbolic of their thoughts and actions. We should know the Law of God so that our thoughts and actions are motivated by the commandments of God.

In this way, we can see the mark of the beast in Revelation as the antithesis of this where people’s thoughts and actions are rooted in the world’s system. Those who do not conform to the philosophies and values of this world are known and hated for their association with Christ. So when the LORD said through Zephaniah that Israel should not let her hands grow weak, He was saying that they should not become weary of doing good out of fear of their oppressors.

They could take comfort that the LORD was mighty to save and would deal with all their oppressors. At the time of Christ, the people took this to mean that Jesus was going to be an earthly king who would raise up an army and defeat their Roman oppressors. Instead, He came and saved the lame and gathered the outcast— the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus chastised their true oppressors— the Pharisees and Sadducees who made merchandise of the people. They were not true shepherds but hired hands who abused the sheep. Jesus was the Good Shepherd who protected His sheep.

Ultimately, King Jesus would topple the Roman empire— not by the sword but with the gospel. The restored fortunes are not earthly treasures which moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Just as Peter referenced this prophecy in regard to no deceit being found in the mouth of Christ and that trusting in Him we would not be put to shame, I believe Peter also referenced our restored fortunes at the beginning of his epistle when he said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Those who believe this prophecy is still a future fulfillment for the physical nation of Israel need to contend with the apostle Peter. Those who preach that this promise from Zephaniah is for earthly fortunes cheapen it. We look forward to treasures that do not fade in heaven. The LORD may bless us monetarily in this life, and He may decide to prolong our days by healing an infirmity. However, these things are temporary and should be treated as such. We use the blessings God has given us to serve Christ and His body, the church.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the blessings You have given us in this world. Help us to honor You with them and use them to make sure Christ is renowned and praised by all the peoples of the earth. Amen.