The Coming Day
Lord, sober me up about Your opinion of unchecked sin.
Read ZEPHANIAH 1:1–13
The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:
Judgment on the Whole Earth in the Day of the Lord
2 “I will sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,”
declares the Lord.
3 “I will sweep away both man and beast;
I will sweep away the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea—
and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”
“When I destroy all mankind
on the face of the earth,”
declares the Lord,
4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all who live in Jerusalem.
I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place,
the very names of the idolatrous priests—
5 those who bow down on the roofs
to worship the starry host,
those who bow down and swear by the Lord
and who also swear by Molek,
6 those who turn back from following the Lord
and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.”
7 Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
for the day of the Lord is near.
The Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited.
8 “On the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials
and the king’s sons
and all those clad
in foreign clothes.
9 On that day I will punish
all who avoid stepping on the threshold,
who fill the temple of their gods
with violence and deceit.
10 “On that day,”
declares the Lord,
“a cry will go up from the Fish Gate,
wailing from the New Quarter,
and a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, you who live in the market district;
all your merchants will be wiped out,
all who trade with silver will be destroyed.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who are complacent,
who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing,
either good or bad.’
13 Their wealth will be plundered,
their houses demolished.
Though they build houses,
they will not live in them;
though they plant vineyards,
they will not drink the wine.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Take some time to be “silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near” (7).
This may not seem like the most cheerful or appropriate passage for the start of the week before Christmas, but in fact it explains the “reason for the season,” as the old bumper-sticker put it. If this (and indeed most of Zephaniah) is about the awful plight of a world under God’s judgment, the coming of Jesus is God’s loving response, long before the disaster happens. Both are part of the same plan.
Zephaniah starts by announcing God’s judgment, without giving any reason (2,3). That will come later. What is set forth will be the most devastating judgment, worse even than the flood (Gen. 6:11–13; 7:11,17–24), with everything swept away. Status (8) and wealth (13) will count for nothing during the day of the Lord. God’s promise to Noah never again to destroy all living creatures was great, but it was also limited—“As long as the earth endures…” (Gen. 8:22). The implication is that the earth itself will be destroyed. Just as with the flood, it is God who is bringing the punishment. This is not a case of people reaping the harvest of their sin (although that happens, too). God himself is acting, “I will…” (2,3; cf. Gen. 8:21,22).
Even though the impact will be universal, at this point the focus is on Judah and Jerusalem, God’s people (4). That’s where judgment still starts (1 Pet. 4:17; Ezek. 9:6). At the heart of the problem is the idolatry flourishing alongside worship of the Lord (4–6). The Temple itself has been polluted (9), yet God’s people have been complacent about the consequences (12). Like them, do we act as though God is indifferent to our own sin and that around us? Zephaniah’s warning is directed at God’s people as much as anyone else.
One of most time-honored of Paul’s statements is found in Romans 11:22, “behold the goodness and the severity of God.” Have you considered this lately?
Save us, Lord, from the complacency that ignores the seriousness of our own sin and that of others.
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