There is nothing better to hear in church than what God in Christ has done for sinners like me. This week I heard a great sermon from Zephaniah 3 where we were reminded again that judgment was immanent, but then, almost without explanation, it was dissipated. Gone! In the beginning of the chapter, we read about God’s righteous judgment coming upon his people. Then in verse 14, God says, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.” The next line tells us in a simple affirmation why they should rejoice and sing and exult, in perhaps the happiest declaration anyone could ever hear: “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you.”
This is not just Israel’s problem, nor Israel’s rescue, but all of us were or are in the crosshairs of the wrath of God. So was I. But the Lord has taken away the judgments against me. Romans 1:18 says that “the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Ephesians 2 intentionally personalizes God’s wrath, saying, “And you were once dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Nothing could be more sobering, for, as Hebrews says, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” However, the next phrase in the passage in Ephesians sets are hearts at ease again. “But God…” it says.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
“For the same Lord is Lord of all,” says Romans 10:12, “bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” It’s amazing. Jesus himself went from riches to wrath so that I would go from wrath to riches. Let me close with 2 Corinthians 8:9. It tells us that we “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for [our] sake he became poor, so that [we] by his poverty might become rich.” Hallelujah, what a Savior, who appeased the wrath of God that was against me, gave me his own righteousness, and freely lavishes upon me the unsearchable riches of Christ.