There is a passage about God’s presence and God’s work that we need at this critical time in our experience. In the Old Testament book of Zephaniah God says that He is present with His people (3:14-20). Then He promises to do some specific things for His people. He comes to His people. Zephaniah emphasizes that as God’s people we ought to be praising, singing, worshipping and rejoicing with gladness.

“You shall see disaster no more” (3:15). This is what happens when God is in our midst. This is revival, God working in, through and for His people. Verse 17 is a grand statement regarding God. We are encouraged not to be weak or feeble because God is in us. He isn’t just with us, He lives in us.

“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).

There is in this passage some very important things. We need them.

First, there is a conscious command, a clear order given to us in verse 14. We are to sing and shout, be glad and rejoice. This isn’t whistling in the dark. It is clearly tied to some real work of God and to His dynamic presence in our lives. Worship is important in our personal and corporate lives as God’s people. God is at work. That should cause such a joyous response.

We need to learn how to praise God, even when we don’t feel like praising Him. We need to learn how to express ourselves in worship, even when we don’t want to. We need to sing. We ought to shout. We certainly need to show forth gladness and rejoicing as God’s people. This is the first thing that we need to recognize in this passage.

Second, there is the presence of God explained in this passage. This is a message about “The God Who is Here.” God is here! God is at work. God is speaking. God does some things for His people. He is with His people. He lives in His people.

First, He deals with judgments. It says here, “The Lord has taken away your judgments….” God is in control and no one can do anything that He does not permit. He is sovereign.

Then, as to His presence, second, it says here, “He has cast out your enemy.” God takes care of His people. He protects, provides, and preserves His own. He deals with our enemies. We need to be careful about enmity and enemies. Leave them in God’s hands. He will take care of them.

As to God’s presence, third, He says, “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.” God is with His people. He is in their midst. When God is present we can be confident that He will provide and protect. We can trust Him.

Fourth, because God is present, in the midst of His people, He promises, “You shall see disaster no more.”

This lays the basis for considering what this means; what the presence and reality of God with us and in our midst means. The prophet here tells us the meaning of God being with His people.

1. There is no need to fear, God is here!

2. There need be no weakness. “Let not your hands be weak” (3:16b).

3. There is salvation. Wherever God is there is salvation available. “The Mighy One, will save” (3:17).

4. God rejoices in His people. As another says, “God inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3).

5. He expresses His love in real and substantial, often tangible, ways.

Consider what God promises to these people who have been rejected, abused, misused, afflicted, shamed, demeaned and defeated. He will do some specific and amazing things for them. We can claim these things under similar circumstances as God’s people. Note the use of the words “I will” in this passage. This is God talking.

1. “I will gather these” (3:18).

2. “I will deal with all who afflict you” (3:19a).

3. “I will save the lame” (3:19b).

4. “I will…gather those who were driven out” (3:19c)

5. “I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame” (3:19d).

What a list of promises and assurances from God to His people. We need to be sure that we are His people and then we need to claim these promises in that confidence assurance.

God is real. He exists. He comes to His people. He works in and through His people.

We need to be filled with God. It is the Holy Spirit, sent by God, who indwells God’s people.

With this real truth we can deal with Covid-19 and any other attack that might come to us. As I have said before, there is hope for those who love God and seek to honor Him. We must remember that God is the key. We need to rely on Jesus.

— You can send your thoughts to drjerryhopkins@yahoo.com or by “snail mail” at P. O. Box 1363, Marshall, Texas 75671.Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a historian and retired professor.