Advent: the promise of victory

Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with 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.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Advent is an apt reminder to us that the one who is coming is “the Mighty Warrior who saves,” or “a warrior who gives victory” (NRSV). This warrior in the passage is “the LORD, the King of Israel.” And he is said to be in the midst of his people.

There is plenty of fear in the world today, and we can be tempted, one might say tested by it on at least a couple levels. We live in a violent world, one in which hate is doing plenty of its dirty work. But hate will not have the last work, and all its dirty work will someday be undone. In fact the King who is to come is already in our midst, similar to the day of Zephaniah, when God’s people Israel were in exile.

Somehow God puts steel in our souls, and gives us a holy resolve to continue on, come what may, in his strength and power, “in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10-20). Of course that holy resolve has to be tempered with all of who God is in Jesus, and with all of the will of God made known to us in and through Jesus in scripture.

But make no mistake about it: while we indeed are in a spiritual battle, we have the Mighty One, the Lord in our midst, Emmaneul: God-with-us. And the promise of his return when at long last all evil is judged and full salvation comes.

 

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