Today is Gaudete Sunday which in latin means REJOICE.
The prophets were the great interrupters who 1) afflicted the comfortable with pronoucements of impending judgment and 2) comforted the afflicted with pronouncements of God steadfast love and faithfulness.
Zephaniah received a word from the Lord for the people of Judah around Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah who was the last of the great reformer kings of Judah.
2 Chronicles 34:1–7 (NRSV)
34 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
Sing aloud! Shout! Rejoice and exult! WHY? The Lord is in your midst.
Verses 15-20 give us insight into what the people feared or in other words what had become a distraction.
1. Enemies being stronger and more skilled who outlast and outmaneuver them.
2. Disasters both of nation and of nature.
3. Life ends with loose ends and vanity.
The prophet offers the promise that they will be freed from these fears. They will have an unobstructed view of God’s kingdom.
Already God’s reign is present as a ferment in the world, stirring up hope.[United Presbyterian Church affirmed in the Confession of 1967]
Philippians 4:4–7 (NRSV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.