Do we feel afraid and weak today in the face of our circumstances?
Zephaniah’s words are addressed to a city: Jerusalem. It is a city that Zephaniah has already condemned for being entirely corrupt: a city of oppressors, where injustice is rife, and all sorts of wrongs are committed. The city that was home to God’s temple – a symbol of God’s presence among is people – was far from God.
Yet into this most unpromising context comes a word of hope: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves”. God, perfect in his righteousness, is present in the city. He comes as a warrior to drive out evil, and to save. The presence of God transforms the experience of those in the city: his love draws a broken city, and its broken inhabitants, back to him.
Sometimes our circumstances may seem utterly hopeless. The forces amassed against us may seem overwhelming. We might look at our city and our nation – our own lives – and feel all is lost. In times like these, how we need to hear Zephaniah’s words, “the Lord your God is with you, the Mighty warrior who saves”. God’s presence is always transformative, and God’s purpose is always salvation. Whether our fears today are for our nation, our city, or our own lives, the announcement – and the realization – that God is present with us to save, brings hope.