“The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.”
Zephaniah 1: 14
Zephaniah (Psalm 133)
Zephaniah is introduced as the great, great grandson of Hezekiah, and so is probably of royal blood, as the Hezekiah is likely the famous king. None of this is certain, it is though relevant; Zephaniah is warning King Josiah, who seems to have heeded the counsel. Josiah has followed Manasseh and Amon. These latter kings remained vassals to Assyria and allowed apostate conditions. Josiah, however, pursued faith and obedience to God and independence from foreign nations.
Zephaniah’s main focus is upon the ‘Day of the Lord,’ which he stated was: near; wrathful; distressing; ruinous; and full of darkness and gloom. This ‘Day’ was due to sin against God (1: 17); sin committed by God’s people and the surrounding gentile nations. Zephaniah describes God’s wrath and judgement with cold clarity while explaining its justification. Israel’s unfaithfulness and non-witness has resulted in the fall of the northern kingdom. Judah is now the witness but the warning here is against them too. A ‘remnant,’ however will be saved and expected to witness to the truth of God (3: 12-13)
The focus on judgement turns to salvation (3: 8-9) where all nations will turn to the Lord and Judah will be restored (3:11). Salvation though, comes after judgement and punishment; the command to be faithful continues.
In this book we can see the reality of our sin and God’s holiness; humankind’s rebellion and hard heartedness rightly brings God’s judgement. God’s wrath and judgement are the realities that we should truly fear; the loss of our souls and eternal separation from God are the absolute worse conclusions our lives can face. The Day of the Lord, Christ’s return, will be too late for any change or repentance on our behalf. That Day will both be terrible and wonderful – the New Testament and Christ’s teachings are full of direction, encouragement and warnings in relation to this truth.
The answer to God’s wrath, my friends, is found in Jesus. It is He who takes away our punishment and He who has turned back the enemy of sin and death (3: 15a). For us to saved, and for Christ’s return to be awesomely wonderful, we need to humble ourselves before God, repent and trust in Him and then live in meekness and obedience (3:12).
God’s people, Israel, were to be a witness to the surrounding nations. Today, God’s people, the Church, have that same mission. How terrible for His Church to go away from the truth and lead others away! How wonderful for the Church to be a beacon of light in a dark world drawing others to the Love of God in Christ Jesus!!!
The Question of Application
Have you considered God’s judgement and wrath or do you not like to think about its harsh reality? To dismiss this truth is to underestimate the depth of God’s love for us and Christ’s self-sacrifice. Who, in your life, needs to know these truths?
O Holy Spirit, before the Day of the Lord Jesus’ Return, enable and encourage us to seek Him in true humility and to obey what He commands. Help us to seek righteousness and humility so that we may be sheltered by His self-sacrificial love and welcomed into the Father’s loving embrace. Amen
(Taken from Zephaniah 2: 2-3)
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us sung by St. Aidan’s
Holy (Wedding Song) by City Harmonic
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.