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. Zephaniah 3:17
If this had not been written in the Word of God, I would think such a statement as this to be preposterous presumption. How can God, in honesty - and God cannot lie, He is truth itself - how can He accept me? How can He embrace me? How can He have fellowship with me? How can it be said that He would rejoice with joy over me, a sinner!?
Heaven rejoices more over one sinner that repents than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance. This describes every one God saves. Christ came not to call the righteous, those who need no repentance, but to call sinners to repentance. But how can God in truth rejoice and joy over me?! Wouldn’t God be untrue, even covering up and being dishonest to joy over a sinner, especially a sinner such as I am?!
“If it had not been revealed, it could not have been imagined.” - unknown.
The truth of the gospel is that God in Christ has so thoroughly lifted the unbearable burden of my sin from off me, and bore my sin in His own body on the tree, that I am now dead to sin, by whose stripes I am healed. 1Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6. “God sees no iniquity in Jacob.” Numbers 23:21. “The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for (in that day) and there shall be none!” Jeremiah 50:20. These promises are to all of God's people, who are in the New Covenant in Christ's blood, all who are born of the Spirit, all who are given faith to look away from their lack, their filth, their shame and their guilt to Christ who took their place before God. John3:14-15.
Jesus Christ the Son of God took on the body that was prepared for Him by God His Father, by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the virgin Mary. In humiliation, He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom8:3), having all of the weakness and consequences that our fallen bodies have: He was tired, weary, thirsty, hungry, faint, and subject to death. In that nature He willingly gave Himself in obedience unto death - even the death of the cross, cursed under God’s holy law, in the sight of all and at the hands of sinners; as one who was more worthy to die than any man, because He took my sins and the sins of all of His people.
He was made the propitiation for His people's sins. He removed our sins from us, which were the cause of God’s anger, and made satisfaction to God's justice for them. Because of Him, God is not angry with His people.
Not only is God not angry, but according to Zephaniah 3:17, God is actually well-pleased, and rejoices in and joys over all who are in Christ. And He will sing for His joy and love over them, and all of this entirely because He is well-pleased with His Son, satisfied in Him, rejoices in Him, is thrilled with and wants nothing more from His people than what Jesus has done. He looks for nothing more and nothing less and nothing else from me but what He finds in Christ. And by His grace, He gives me the faith to do the same: to want nothing more and look for nothing else but what God has done in Christ! God accepts, God receives, God is well-pleased with me for Jesus' sake. He looks to me no more for anything, but looks to His Son for everything.
As Pastor Nibert once said, "Do you ever wonder how God could love you? I wonder that too, but in Christ, I can see how God can love me." Why not? In Christ I have done more than the Old Testament law demanded of me for life and satisfied more than it demanded of me for death, and now I am free from that law, having fully satisfied all of its shadowy claims in the super abounding obedience and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives eternal, infinite joy to God for His obedience and suffering and love, and all that He is. Because all that He is, He is for me; and all that God requires and looks for, He finds in Him, and all that I need or want from God, I find in Him too. What God has done for me in Christ is His joy, and by His grace, what God has done for me in Christ is my joy.
The joy of the LORD is my strength !
Rick Warta, Pastor