In one of the most amazing verse in Scripture, the Bible describes the deep and abiding love God has for us. O how hard it is in this generation to believe that God loves us; that God cares for us; that God treasures us and that God is concerned about EVERY detail of our lives. In the depth of our hearts we have failed to believe that God really loves us. Yet Zephaniah declares a breathtaking truth about God’s love.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT): 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 songs.”
God’s Word Translation: The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.
NLV: The Lord your God is with you, a Powerful One Who wins the battle. He will have much joy over you. With His love He will give you new life. He will have joy over you with loud singing.
Zeph. 3:17 – “rejoice over you” – literally means “dance, skip, leap, and spin around in joy.” God dances with shouts of joy over us! How much more should we dance with joy since He is in our midst?
“Rejoice” is translated from a Hebrew word that Strongs defines as:
A primitive root; properly to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion), that is, usually rejoice… : – be glad, joy, be joyful, rejoice.
The Hebrew word means to “spin around under violent emotion,” or basically to dance. So Zep 3:17 is more accurately translated as, “Yahuwah 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 dance over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
Can you imagine this that God is literally dancing over you with shouts of joy? Oh how we have missed this beautiful picture of God’s love. How beautiful must bethe sound of His voice. How wonderful must bethe song? How breathtaking it must be to see God dance. And it is all over you, His beloved child.
I prefer explaining it of that calm silent joy in the possession of the object of one’s love, too great for words to express: just as God after the six days of creation rested with silent satisfaction in His work, for “behold it was very good” (Genesis 1:31; 2:2). So the parallel clause by contrast expresses the joy, not kept silent as this, but uttered in “singing.”
Beth Jones: I love to dance, and so it is easy for me to imagine God dancing too – even at times jumping and leaping in the air, spinning around with great energy and joy. I can also see Him taking my hand in a slow dance, holding me close to Him, so close that I can even hear His strong heartbeat. That is how close God wants us to be to Him, like John who laid his head on Jesus’ breast. (John 13:25). God wants you and me to hear His heart beating with love for us.
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save: This passage gives us definite steps for consolation, as we understand that: The Lord is in your midst The Lord is in your midst with power to save. God takes joy in you. God gives you rest in His love. God sings over you
c. He will rejoice over you with gladness: We often underestimate the joy God has in His people, and too often think God is annoyedor irritated with us. “Faulty as the church is, the Lord rejoices in her. While we mourn, as well we may, yet we do not sorrow as those that are without hope; for God does not sorrow, his heart is glad, and he is said to rejoice with joy – a highly emphatic expression.” (Spurgeon)
d. He will rejoice over you with singing: We don’t often think of God singing, but He does – and He sings over His people. This is how much joy and delight we give to the Lord – that He breaks into song!
i. “Think of the great Jehovah singing! Can you imagine it? Is it possible to conceive God breaking into song singing over the redeemed? God is so happy in the love which he bears to his people that he breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “If God sings, shall not we sing? He did not sing when he made the world. No; he looked upon it, and simply said that it was good. The angels sang, the sons of God shouted for joy: creation was very wonderful to them, but it was not much to God, who could have made thousands of worlds by his mere will. Creation could not make him sing . . . When all was done, and the Lord saw what became of it in the salvation ofhis redeemed, then he rejoiced after a divine manner.” (Spurgeon)
Isaiah 63:1 (NIV): Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.”
NLT: Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!”
Can there be any doubt that God wants to be sought after? The first and greatest of all commands is to love him (Mark 12:29-30; Matt. 22:36-38). He wantsus to love him. To seek him with all our heart. A woman longs to besought after, too, with the whole heart of her pursuer. God longs to be desired. Just as a woman longs to bedesired. This is not some weakness or insecurity on the part ofa woman, that deep yearning to be desired. God feels the same way. Remember the story of Martha and Mary? Mary chose God, and Jesus said that was what he wanted. “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42). She chose me.
Life changes dramatically when romance comes into our lives. Christianity changes dramatically when we discover that it, too, is a great romance. That God yearns to share a life of beauty, intimacy, and adventure with us. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). This whole world was madefor romance—the rivers and the glens, the meadows and the beaches. Flowers, music, a kiss. But we have a way of forgetting all that, losing ourselves in work and worry. “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!” (Ex. 20:5 NLT). Tender and inviting, intimate and alluring, fiercely devoted. Oh yes, our God has a passionate, romantic heart for us. .
No false god loves like this. No idolloves like this. No earthly person loves like this. God is so intimately concerned about every detail of your life that he even numberedthe hairs of our head. How we are valuedin the presence of God. Shouldn’t we treasure God in the same way?
Luke 12:6,7 (Amplified): Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And [yet] not one of them is forgotten oruncared for in the presence of God.
7 But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows.
Ponder these truths:
Do you know that God is consumedwith you? Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends human understanding? Do you know that God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength? Do you know that God wants to bewanted by you, He wants to beloved, He wants to becherished, He wants to beadored, He wants to betreasured, and He wants to be worshipped? The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered.
God has always loved you no matter what you have done. God has always been there even in your darkest hour even though you may not have ever realized it. God will never give up on you for He is a loving God and not just a fickle person (Hosea 11). God will never quit chasing you for His love for you burns deep and true. God is pleading to you, please let me be your God, your everything, your reason for breathing and let me bear my mighty arm for you and show you my goodness and glory. God has never forgotten you, not ever, not even for a second. Don’t you want to know this God?
Are you desperate for God or does God only enter the picture when you are on your last rope with nowhere else to turn? Do we place God on shelf only to take Him off the shelf when we have tried everything else? Do we realize deep inside of every man and woman is the intense desire to know His Creator because we were all made in the image of God. This hunger is never satisfied by things or people or addictions or success, but can only be quenched by an intimate relationship with God Almighty. Is your love for God all-consuming or as affectionate as a peck on the cheek? Have we allowed the routine of life to replace the adventure of knowing the only true God whose love is boundless, whose mercy is everlasting and whose grace is abundant? Are we too busy, to tired or just too lazy to spend time with God daily? Do we run to do everything else first before we even consider time with God?
Do you know God gave everything so you could be brought as an honored son or daughter into the family of God? Would you give all you have to Him without reservation as act of devoted love? Let us cry out like Job “My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you!” Do you long to experience God on a deeper level? Do you long to enjoy God in all the richness of everything He is? Why not be consumed with God? You will never be disappointed from now throughout all eternity. He is calling you now to come to Him and experience the healing wholeness and deliverance that is available in His Son Jesus Christ. He crushed all captivity, sin and bondage and paid the ultimateprice so we might live. Doesn’t he deserve everything? Doesn’t He merit all our passion, all our love, all our devotion, all our worship, all our priorities, and all our heart? How we could advance the kingdom of God if we were consumed with God! Do you dare to take God at His Word and be consumed with Him? Your life will never be the same and the lives of all those around you. It is time to take the leap. We have nothing to lose. Let’s be consumed with God from this moment forward. Let us cry out like David with a yearning heart:
Psalm 65:1-8 (NIV):
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
I Corinthians 2:9 (NLT): That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
God is crying out like in Isaiah 65 (Message Bible):
“I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
Luke 15 sets forth three parables that illustrate the wonders of the heavenly Father’s love for us and shows God is right here waiting, calling and reaching out to each one of us? Will we ignore His whisper of love for us to come back to Him? Will we run to Him or turn our backs on Him? .
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Sons (The Parable of the Loving Heavenly Father)
The Father described in this parable is loving, kind, caring, compassionate, generous, forgiving and everything a father should be. It is a perfect picture of our Heavenly Father.
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.
In the East it is customary for the sons to demand and receive their portionof the inheritance during their father’s lifetime. His demands to the father exceeded his demands for the father. Our desire for the gifts exceeds our desire for the Giver.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
We all have gone to our far country where we have lived in alienation of heart from the Father.
14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out toone of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
The Grand Welcome Home
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
This is the only time in Scriptures where it says God the Father ran. Words are inadequate to describe the moment. Here is Almighty God, the Creator of the heaven and earth, running toward a lost son. He saw him. He was looking for Him. There is never a day that God does not look longingly for his son or daughter to return. God was experiencing a famine of fellowship, friendship, intimacy and affection from His son. Jesus is painting an incredible picture of the heart of His Father. The son collapses into His Father’s embrace. The Father repeatedly kisses the lost son and this reveals the true nature of the Father’s love. It shows His heart of love. The picture of this Parable says “O children of men who are seeking a place in the heart and home of the heavenly Father, know this, that your Father’s heart is yearning over you with boundless and unquenchable affection. That He is far more anxious to enfold you in the arms of His mercy than you willing to be embraced; he is not only waiting and longing.to receive you at His side, to give you back all that you have lost.’ This parable is like a glass that reflects the sacred image of our Father.
21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
The older son would receive 2/3 of the father’s wealth as stated by the law in Deuteronomy 21:7. Regrettably as the older son matured, he expressed little or no interest whatsoever in his Father’s wealth, blessing, love or purpose. He never dreamed of taking hold of it. He knew it was there and set aside for his benefit and ultimately the benefit of others, but he never sought after it. He was simply content to go on living as he had done for years-selfishly living for himself. While he enjoyed all the benefits of the Father’s house, he had little time for the Father. He was totally indifferent to his calling and the Father’s provision. His complacency and apathy led to almost a total disregard for all that his father had so lovingly and thoughtfully provided for him. He knew there was more but had no interest in anything other than himself and his own self-centered world. He never considered how this must have made his father feel. Are we taking no interest in the Father or the riches of our inheritance in Christ?
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
David Ravenhill: Who better to tell this story than Jesus? The father in the story was His Father. The sons represent every son of Adam who due to sin, has fallen and come short of the Father’s glory. It does not matter whether you are the proud older brother, convinced you have never sinned and trusting in your own self-righteousness, or the prodigal who went to the very depths of sin; both are dressed in filthy rags-one outwardly, the one inwardly. Both are in need of a Savior. The Father will run toward you when He sees you heading His way, saying, “Father, I’ve sinned.” The robe, the ring, the shoes and the feast are all waiting; but greater yet, the Father himself is waiting. Welcome home.
Behold God’s love!
I John 3:1: Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.
When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God, we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts. We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has selected us to be part of His family.
Verse 2: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
How do we become His birthed sons and daughters, clothed in righteousness, justified from our sin, holy and without blame before Him in love, sealed by His spirit with the gift of eternal life? The answer lies in Romans.
Romans 10:9-13 (NASB):
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus asLord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Jesus Christ is the way back to the heart of the Father.
Galitians4:4-7 (NLV): But at the right time, God sent His Son. A woman gave birth to Him under the Law. 5 This all happened so He could buy with His blood and make free all those who were held by the Law. Then we might become the sons of God. 6 Because you are the sons of God, He has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. The Spirit cries, “Father!” 7 So now you are no longer a servant who is owned by someone. You are a son. If you are a son, then you will receive what God has promised through Christ.
The Aramaic word “abba” is an intimate family expression that denotes the tender address of a child to its father. It could be translated “dear father”, or “father, father” and in today’s modern vocabulary would mean “daddy” or “papa.” “Abba” signifies the deepest bond of love and affection and the intimate, close relationship of a father and child. The Greek word “cry” means: a loud cry expressing deep emotion and confidence. God sent His Son to purchase our freedom and bring us into a deep intimate relationship with the Father as His cherished son or daughter. Any moment you pray, converse, talk or fellowship with your Heavenly Father, you can express the deepest emotions of love and adoration and call Him abba, dearest father, daddy or papa. Only Jesus Christ makes this type of intimacy available with the Father, and God desires above all else that your relationship with Him is this close, this personal, this warm, and this intimate every second of the day.
Oh, how many Christians have missed this great truth, as we have often perceived God to bein some distant place, barely giving the slightest attention to us as He is just too busy with more important things. We think God says, “Just take a number and I will get to you when I can.” God wants intimacy with you! He wants your relationship with Him to be so deep, so loving and so close, that it far exceeds the most intimate human bond ever know in the history of mankind. Each day He wants your relationship with Him to grow in richness and deepen in the fathomless depths of His love.
Ephesians 1:3, 4 (NASB): Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation ofthe world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.
Psalm 32:7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
God is our home. We need to turn our eyes back home again. We need to run to meet our Heavenly Father and come back to His warm embrace of love.
Look at where we were and how God rescued us and redeemed us by His love, mercy and grace.
Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV): As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath
Ephesians 2:4-10 (The Voice):
But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. 6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed. 8-9 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. 10 For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives,created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.
We are God’s poetic masterpiece; the ultimateevidence of His fathomless love. The unfathomable richness of His love and mercy is focused on us. He took us when we were dead in trespasses and sin and gave us true life in Christ and we are an eternal testimony of the riches of His grace.
Eric Ludy: You’re blessed when you are out of options and all you can do is lean on God. Because when you realize your need for God, it is only then that you tap into His immeasurable greatness and goodness.”
Consider and take to heart these beautiful words expressing God’s love for you. This is one of the most incredible sections of Scripture about the wonders of God’s love for us.
Psalm 139:1-18 (the Voice):
O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am;
2 You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.
Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.
3 You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,
and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know.
4 You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.
It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.
5 You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,
and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.
6 It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;
the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it. 7 Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?
Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence? 8 If I go up into heaven, You are there.
If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there.
9 If I ride on the wings of morning,
if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean,
10 Even then You will be there to guide me;
Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there.
11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself,“There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,”
12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
For You the night is just as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes. 13 For You shaped me, inside and out.
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
15 You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
16 You see all things;
You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.
17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number!
18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.
Stand in awe God’s beloved children as God treasures you, loves you and dances and sings over you with great joy. God has great plans, great purposes and great treasures stored up for you. God cherishes every thought of you and longs for intimate fellowship with you. He is always looking for you. His love, goodness and mercy will relentlessly pursue you all the days of your life. He is waiting to run and greet you and embrace you with His tender love. He has the robe, the ring and the shoes and the great feast of celebration ready. Isn’t it time to come home?
By Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministries