No Way Out
Gracious Lord, Your mercy, love and power are from everlasting to everlasting. All praise to You.
Read Zephaniah 1:14-2:3
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psa. 96:4). The word awesome is over-worked but it is still true: our God is an awesome God.
Not only is the coming judgment inevitable, it is imminent. The day of the Lord is a common concept in Old Testament thinking. It is the day when the Lord will intervene in power and establish justice. In popular thinking, Israel’s enemies would be judged and the nation vindicated. Zephaniah, like Amos before him (Amos 5:18-20), challenges this view. The description is powerful and uncomfortable. The way in which God is depicted makes us feel uneasy. But if justice is to prevail–and who does not want that?–then injustice and oppression must be swept away. If God is to be universally worshipped–the longing of all who love him–those who willfully and repeatedly turn their backs on him can have no place in his future.
For Judah the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. was the immediate fulfillment. Jesus projected the day forward, seeing its fulfillment both in the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D. 70 and, in the final realization of all that Zephaniah foresees, his own return and the final establishment of God’s rule (Mark 13). For us, the return of Jesus and the final overthrow of evil are inevitable and imminent, in the sense that we cannot know and are called to be prepared–as Jesus often reminds us (Mark 13:32-37). Judah chose not to live in the light of the impending day of the Lord; we can make a different choice.
At the end of these verses there is a ray of hope, if hope it can be called. The day itself cannot be averted, but for those who will acknowledge their fault and humbly seek the Lord there is the possibility that they may escape it. Thankfully for us, there is the assurance that those who are in Christ will not face condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
What difference might it make to the way that we lived each day if we really believed in Jesus’ ultimate victory?
Powerful One, You care about my sin with a fiery passion. May this awareness drive me in a new desire to please You in all things.
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