Now, And Not Yet.
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful song.” – Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
There is a sense in which most, if not all, of biblical prophesy has a now, and not yet, aspect to it. Much of what the prophets were predicting was to take place in the immediate context of their hearers. Destruction was to come soon. But then, there is another aspect of prophesy that was usually delayed for a future date. It is still yet to be fulfilled. Zephaniah 2-3 contains both of these elements of prophesy. God was going to bring destruction on Jerusalem, as well as Philistia, Assyria, Moab, Ammon, and Ethiopia – and He did. Those prophecies have been fulfilled. But Zephaniah also talks of a future restoration and redemption of Judah that has not yet taken place. In spite of Jerusalem’s open and ongoing rebellion against God, He will one day restore them to favor. He will return the Jews to the land of promise and re-establish the throne of David in Jerusalem. This has all yet to take place and will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Kingdom of Christ is established at the end of the Great Tribulation. It will be a marvelous day in which God promises to “purity the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the Lord together (Zephaniah 3:9 NLT). God also promises that He will live among His people again. He will bless them with His presence. Their troubles will all be over and they will never have to fear disaster again. He will take great delight in them and rejoice over them. But that day has not yet happened.
Or has it? This promise was to the people of Judah and the Jewish nation. It has yet to be fulfilled. But God will keep His promise to them because He is a promise keeping God. He will do what He said He would do. But there is a sense in which we, as Gentiles and followers of Jesus Christ, have seen this prophesy fulfilled – in part. Because when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, He came as Emmanual, which means “God with us.” God came and dwelt among men. He lived among us. And then He died among us and for us. But when Christ was resurrected and returned to the Father’s side in heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. The very Spirit of God not only dwells among men, but in them – in those who have placed their faith and hope in the saving work of Jesus Christ. For us, in a real sense, the words of Zephaniah have already been fulfilled: “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a might savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT). God is with us and in us. The Holy Spirit comforts us, directs us, convicts us, and teaches us. The Lord Himself, the King of Israel, not only lives among us, He lives in us! We no longer need to fear disaster. We no longer have to worry about death, because He has conquered it. We no longer have to fear condemnation, because He has removed it. We no longer have to sin, because He has given us new hearts. God is with us. He lives among us. He has filled us with His Spirit and empowered us to live lives that are set apart, distinctive, joyful, powerful, and a glimpse of what is yet to come.
Father, You are among us and in us. You have given us Your Spirit and transplanted new hearts within us. We have access to Your power and the promise of Your indwelling presence – at all times. We have much to be grateful for and so much more to be hopeful for. May we live as if You live within us. May our lives reflect Your presence and power every day of our lives. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men