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Senior Minister Ricky A. Woods
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Saturday, December 11, 2021 2:30 PM


Saturday, December 11, 2021 2:30 PM
Saturday, December 11, 2021 2:30 PM

Zephaniah 3:14-20

A once often heard phrase in the black church is “The storm is passing over, hallelujah!”

The phrase was an indication that whatever difficulty the community may have encountered was no longer a threat. There was a return to a time of joy, praise and celebration that affirmed God’s goodness among the people.

Sometimes the phase was a reference to weather conditions that made agricultural life difficult when crops would not produce. Sometimes the phase was a reference to a political crisis that crushed their aspirations. Whatever the case, the phrase was acknowledgement that things had not gotten better by human achievement alone but God had gone to work on behalf of His people. God had heard their prayer and acted.

A prophet writing to a community in exile shared the same sentiments centuries earlier. The rebellion of a nation coupled with idolatry had led to Israel falling at the hands of its enemies. The nation was not just defeated but many were carried away in forced captivity. While in captivity the conquering nation benefited from their labor, skills and intellect. While in captivity their names were changed, their rituals forbidden and their young miseducated.

But the prophet tells them their time of mourning about their condition has passed. It is now time to sing aloud. Make a noise that the enemy can hear that speaks of your expectation of pending deliverance because God is in your midst.

The Lord has acted by taking away the sin that bring judgment among the people. The Lord will act as a warrior who gives victory. The people are called to shout before the battle begins because the outcome has already been determined. The Lord will give them the victory.

The prophet does not stop with the promise of victory but also declares the Lord will renew them in his love. The witness of renewal will be seen in the removal of enemies, the justice that will come to all those who oppressed the people and the change in condition of those without strength to change their condition on their own.

God will save the lame, bring back the outcast and alter shame in ways that makes praise possible.

What the prophet is providing is a model of restoration and how restoration is at the heart of the work that God does for us. We have a Redeemer who will restore us and restore our community. Singing while in exile is the way the people affirm their belief that it is true. God will do it.

The pandemic may not be over and the challenges that face our community have not all been met, but we know that we serve a God who is a Redeemer and a Restorer so we can sing now with a loud voice that victory will be ours.

“Victory will be mine. Victory will be mine if I hold my peace and the let the Lord fight my battles, victory will be mine.”


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