Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord. They will do not wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid. Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud Israel! Be glad and rejoice will all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 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.’ I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals which is a burden and reproach for you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes, says the Lord. - Zephanian 3:9-20

God is good. I say that a lot, but it’s always true. In this section of Zephaniah, the prophet has begun to reveal God’s plan for redemption and restoration. Zephaniah follows a similar pattern to the majority of all of the Old Testament prophets in that God isn’t simply planning destruction of all people. We see that one, in the fact that we’re still alive and kicking, but two, in the sense that God always has a plan for restoration of his people. His goal is never anger or death. And that’s essential for us to wrestle with as we read through this (or any of the prophets).

As I’ve mentioned previously, I think it’s easy to get tunnel vision into aspects of God’s character in reading this rather than seeing the whole picture. For God to have done what He did so many times, so consistently (the entirety of the major and minor prophets), it had to have meant something - He was actually doing something big, not simply killing off the unfaithful. As we can find in Deuteronomy 6, God is “a jealous God,” one that has a heart fully set on His people. While we tend to find comfort in looking at His grace and mercy, we can also see the nature of His overwhelming love as He refuses to let some bad apples spoil the whole bunch. What I mean by that is although Zephaniah speaks of Israel’s unfaithfulness in the beginning of the book, God isn’t merely trying to destroy His people because He is upset. On the contrary, He sees that the only way to save the remnant of His people that will actually turn to Him is to purge the evil from the midst of His people. He saw that unless He rid Israel of those trying to lead them astray, His people as a whole would find their way into destruction. Rather than killing them, oddly enough He was doing all He could to truly save them. Paradigm shift.

The practical here may be a bit different than normal, but I think it’s super helpful. Today, my challenge to you is that you would examine things that have been taking place in your life for the past year. While that may be a huge chunk of time, one in which you’ve inevitably changed drastically, take the whole year and examine it altogether. Instead of focusing on small individual moments to dictate God’s character, use the whole year to piece together the big picture. Then ask God to show you what He’s been doing throughout the year. As we allow God to show us the big picture, we lose our offense, disappointment, or bitterness with Him because we see how He’s been working for our good throughout the midst of many small highs and lows over time.