Zephaniah 3 … Consider Him Who Brings His Justice to Light

The Lord is righteous within her;
He will do no injustice.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He does not fail.
But the unjust knows no shame,

There is not just a ray of hope at the end of Zephaniah’s prophecy, but hope that bursts forth to fill the whole earth with the resplendent glory of Him Who Brings His Justice to Light.

Justice: 4941. מִשְׁפָּט mišpāṭ: A masculine noun meaning a judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude. The word connotes several variations in meanings depending on the context… The word means simple justice in some contexts, often in parallel with synonymous words, such as ḥōq (2706) or ṣeḏeq (6664), meaning ordinance or righteousness… Justice and righteousness characterize the Lord’s throne.. and these were  coupled with love and faithfulness… Executing or doing justice was the central goal that Yahweh had for His people… for that equaled righteousness, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

His Justice is not simply His correction and punishment for those who transgress His commands. Coupled with His love and faithfulness, His Justice equals His righteous dealings with all of mankind. And because He Is righteous, He Himself is the given standard that defines His Justice. The Lord is righteous and His every legal decision is always in perfect keeping with Who He is.

The Lord is righteous within her;
He will do no injustice…

Righteous: 6662. צַדִּיק ṣaddiyq: An adjective meaning just, righteous. The term bears primarily a moral or ethical significance…conformity to a given standard… legal standards… in accordance with God’s standards… It is also often applied to God, who is the ultimate standard used to define justice and righteousness… Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

And for this reason, He will not, He cannot, simply pass over sin. Sin must be judged. Sin must be punished. And while He is slow to anger, He must punish the guilty.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
In whirlwind and storm is His way,
And clouds are the dust beneath His feet,
(Nahum 1:3).

For those who chose to persist in their rebellion, who refused to hear His instruction and rejected His Offer to Find Shelter from His Wrath Before It Is Too Late, He Will Bring His Justice to Light as He brings down His gavel and pronounces His verdict, “Guilty.”

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
The tyrannical city!
She heeded no voice,
She accepted no instruction.
She did not trust in the Lord,
She did not draw near to her God,

But let’s not miss this. His Justice included chance after chance after chance, as He brought correction and discipline to reveal His mercy and grace, that His people might draw near to revere and learn from Him.

“I have cut off nations;
Their corner towers are in ruins.
I have made their streets desolate,
With no one passing by;
Their cities are laid waste,
Without a man, without an inhabitant.
“I said, ‘Surely you will revere Me,
Accept instruction.’
So her dwelling will not be cut off
According to all that I have appointed concerning her.
But they were eager to corrupt all their deeds,

His judgments, although severe, were designed to turn the hearts of His people back to Him, that in their need they would lean in to listen to His Truth and Instruction. But sadly, many would continue to keep running away from Him in their unrighteous rebellion and corruption. And many would indeed experience His Wrath.

But there would be a remnant, those who lowered themselves in an attitude of humility and faith, who would find refuge in Him when He Brings His Justice to Light.

“But I will leave among you
A humble and lowly people,
And they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.
13 “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong…”

Zephaniah records the amazing promises to the humble that were partially fulfilled for the nation in their release from Babylonian captivity. But as we consider these breathtaking prophecies of what awaits those who call on His Name in faith, we will see Jesus increase above the rebellion and faithlessness of man, as we are ushered into that day when He Brings His Justice to Light in the life of everyone who has repented and turned to Him in faith to escape the Fire of His Jealousy and Find Shelter from His Wrath Before It Is Too Late.

God’s Word has repeatedly defined the condition of mankind.

as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one,” (Romans 3:10-12).

The above passage from Romans is actually repeated in Psalms 14 and 53. And when God repeats Himself, we know what that means! Pay attention; for this is His irrefutable Truth. There is no one, not even one, who can stand before Him and be declared innocent.

And that much we can understand, just by being alive in a fallen world. But what is completely inexplicable, what is truly beyond our ability to comprehend is that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, would come in the flesh to make His dwelling among sinful men; and though He was innocent and would do no injustice, He would be crucified to become the Propitiation for Our Sins, to bear our punishment by shedding His blood on the cross as the Only Way to Justly satisfy the Wrath of Holy God and Bring His Justice to Light.

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed, (1 Peter 2:24).

Consider Him Who Brings His Justice to Light

Zephaniah ends on the highest of high notes and could be studied for days on end. Today is a bit lengthy but so worth the time as we consider twelve passages from our reading that highlight the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies of Zephaniah revealed in Jesus Christ Who Brings His Justice to Light.

  • He Will Bring His Justice to Light as He witnesses against all those who have persisted in rejecting Him.
    •  “Therefore wait for Me,” declares the Lord,
      “For the day when I rise up as a witness.
      Indeed, My decision is to gather nations,
      To assemble kingdoms,
      To pour out on them My indignation,
      All My burning anger;
      For all the earth will be devoured
      By the fire of My zeal,

      • “If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day, (John 12:47-48).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He purifies His people who call on His Name in faith.
    •  “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips,
      That all of them may call on the name of the Lord,
      To serve Him shoulder to shoulder,”

      • And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith, (Acts 15:8-9).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He calls us to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
    • “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
      My worshipers, My dispersed ones,
      Will bring My offerings,”

      • “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” (John 4:23-24).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He nullifies the shame of our boastful pride.
    • “In that day you will feel no shame
      Because of all your deeds
      By which you have rebelled against Me;
      For then I will remove from your midst
      Your proud, exulting ones,
      And you will never again be haughty
      On My holy mountain,”

      •  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God, (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He establishes His Name as a Refuge for the humble.
    • “But I will leave among you
      A humble and lowly people,
      And they will take refuge in the name of the Lord,”

      • Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He promises us His Truth, Peace, and Courage.
    • “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong
      And tell no lies,
      Nor will a deceitful tongue
      Be found in their mouths;
      For they will feed and lie down
      With no one to make them tremble,”

      • These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He takes away His Judgments against us.
    • The Lord has taken away His judgments against you,
      He has cleared away your enemies.
      The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
      You will fear disaster no more,

      • Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He casts out our fear by His Perfect Love.
    • In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
      “Do not be afraid, O Zion;
      Do not let your hands fall limp,”

      • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love, (1 John 4:18).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He exults over us with His Joy and quiets us with His Love.
    • The LORD your God in your midst,
      The Mighty One, will save;
      He will rejoice over you with gladness,
      He will quiet you with His love,
      He will rejoice over you with singing,”
      (3:17 NKJV).

      • fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart, (Hebrews 12:2-3).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He gathers those who grieve over what once was.
    • “I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts—
      They came from you, O Zion;
      The reproach of exile is a burden on them,”

      • let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, (Hebrews 10:22).
  • He Brings His Justice to Light as He turns our shame into praise for our salvation.
    • “Behold, I am going to deal at that time
      With all your oppressors,
      I will save the lame
      And gather the outcast,
      And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
      In all the earth,”

      • that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME,” (Romans 10:9-11).
  • He Will Bring His Justice to Light as He restores our fortunes before our eyes.
    • “At that time I will bring you in,
      Even at the time when I gather you together;
      Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
      Among all the peoples of the earth,
      When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,”
      Says the Lord,”

      • There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illuminate them; and they will reign forever and ever, (Revelation 22:3-5).

How do we respond to Him Who Brings His Justice to Light?

Let’s begin with this fact. If we could do anything to save ourselves then the excruciating death Jesus endured would have been absolutely unnecessary.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly, (Galatians 2:21).

But the fact is, we cannot possibly conform to His perfect standard of righteousness. And if we have not trusted in Christ for salvation, then we earn His Justice based on our attempts to do so. And again, Scripture is clear. Our only compensation for our striving to achieve righteousness on our own is eternal death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).

It is only as we place our faith in His sacrificial death as payment for our sins that we receive His free gift of eternal life. Free to us, but oh so very costly to Him.

knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The day is coming when He Will He Bring His Justice to Light. And apart from faith in Christ, we face an eternal death and separation from Him. Oh, if you have any doubt of the Justice you will face, stop trying to earn His favor and simply believe Him for your salvation.

And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:29-31).

And for all of us who have been saved by faith, may we never get over His Amazing Grace. Let us join Zephaniah’s call to praise as we see Him increase in the Truth and Hope that bursts forth to fill the whole earth with the resplendent glory of Him Who Brings His Justice to Light.

 Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!

Let’s Grow Together!

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