“Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.””
14 The great Day of the Lord is near,
near and rapidly approaching.
Listen, the Day of the Lord—
then the warrior’s cry is bitter.
15 That day is a day of wrath,
a day of trouble and distress,
a day of destruction and desolation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness,
16 a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities,
and against the high corner towers.
In reading the prophets, we hear a lot about the Day of the Lord. This makes it sound like the prophets are all talking about the same thing and retelling the same story over and over. In a way, this is correct, but each prophet shares a little more information and from a different angle. Some share from the perspective of Israel and the judgment coming to them by the Assyrians because of their sins against God. Others focus from the perspective of Judah and the judgment that would come to them from the Babylonians. But, they all speak about the Day of the Lord. This is a day in the future where the refining fire of Gods wrath and judgment comes and purifies the earth from its evils. All evil will be judged at this time.
The Day of the Lord is the great tribulation that is talked about in the book of Revelation. It is a time where those who follow Jesus will be taken up to be with Him for all eternity, but those who are against Him will face the wrath of God. God will cleanse the entire earth of Evil and establish His reign on this earth and eventually usher in a New Heaven and New Earth. It’s like a Holy reset.
In today’s verses Zephaniah describes the Day of the Lord as a day of wrath, trouble, distress, destruction, and darkness. This is because he is calling Judah out for their sins against God and saying that if they don’t turn back to Him, the Day of the Lord will be a horrible time for them. Take some time today to think about the imagery that Zephaniah gives us about this day. It is a time that none of us would want to experience. Thankfully, those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, don’t have to experience this day. Think through that and what that should mean for you today.
7 Be silent in the presence of the Lord God,
for the Day of the Lord is near.
Indeed, the Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
He has consecrated His guests.
Zephaniah was a prophet sent from God to prophesy to Judah of the destruction that was coming their way through the nation of Babylon. But also of the coming judgment they will face at the Day of the Lord. Not only was he a prophet, but He was of the lineage of King Hezekiah, one of the few Godly kings of Judah, and he served during the time of Josiah, the last Godly king of Judah. This shows his godly heritage and shows that he knew what things were like when Israel would serve God verses when they gave in and served themselves. This gives him a perspective of longing for the better days.
You can see the Zephaniah’s heart was to plead and beg Israel to come back to God so they would not face the judgment. The sad part is, at this point, Judah is too far gone in their sinful ways, that they will not listen.
In the verses prior to todays, you even see Zephaniah calling out to the followers of God who still “follow” God, but they also follow false gods and false worship. The idea here is that they are not true followers of God, but if you asked them, they would say they were. Zephaniah is trying to reach everyone and bring them back to God. In todays verse he says, “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God, for the Day of the Lord is near.” In other words, please stop everything you are doing, stop talking, stop with your fake worship of God and just sit silent in His presence.
Can we do the same thing? Can we be like those in Judah who when asked if they worshiped God, they would have said yes, but their lives did not reflect that truth? Can we benefit from just sitting in the presence of God? The answer is yes. We can definitely be fake in our worship of God and we can definitely benefit from just sitting in the presence of God. Take some time today to ask God to show you, your fake worship. Ask Him to guide you into His presence and just sit and rest in Him today. Put away the distractions and just sit silent in His presence today.
1 Gather yourselves together;
gather together, undesirable nation,
2 before the decree takes effect
and the day passes like chaff,
before the burning of the Lord’s anger overtakes you,
before the day of the Lord’s anger overtakes you.
3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth,
who carry out what He commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be concealed
on the day of the Lord’s anger.
Through all the chaos of the judgment that is to come, God always gives the prophets hope for the future. Yes, the judgment is real and yes Israel will face this judgment but take heart! God is their refuge and He is ours. When the judgment comes for Israel, any who turn to Him will find refuge and will become the remnant.
In today’s verses, Zephaniah is passing this message from God to the faithful remnant. He tells them to gather together, seek the Lord and humble themselves before Him. Although Zephaniah doesn’t guarantee their survival, we know through other scriptures that God promises a remnant will remain. Judah will remain forever. God promised to sustain the lineage of David and that one day the savior of the world would come from that lineage. So we know that God was a refuge for this remnant. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” This is something that Israel can hold onto and so can we.
So what does it mean that God is our refuge? It means that He is our protector and provider. When things get bad, we will be protected by Him and He will meet our every need. This is only accomplished when we are walking with Him. He is willing and able to be our refuge at any moment but He won’t force it. We have to turn to Him. Think about how God is our refuge and what that means for you.
1 Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressive city!
2 She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in Yahweh;
she has not drawn near to her God.
No body likes to be called out for their sin, but this is exactly what Zephaniah is doing. He has told them their judgment and even shown that there is a chance for a remnant to make it through this judgment. But at this point he is pointing out the why. He is throwing Judah under the bus for their sins against God.
Take a look at todays verses. He starts by saying woe to the city and then follows it up with a few characteristics that fit a city that should be woed…woeed…woeded?? A city that should be on the look out for the coming judgment. <— That works! The characteristics for that city were not just random characteristics, they were exactly the things Judah was known for. Rebellious, oppressive, not obeying, not accepting discipline, not trusting God and running away from Him. Judah was the complete opposite that they were supposed to be. The woe here is simply telling Judah that they have been warned and they should be expecting the judgment to come any day.
The question for us is this…How are we any different? Are we characterized as rebellious, oppressive, not obeying, not accepting discipline, not trusting God and running away from Him? I hope we are not, but I believe we can all look at these characteristics and find an area or two that we need to work on. Take some time today for some self evaluation. I know we can easily throw much of our government and leadership into this but look at yourself. What are some things you need to change and how can you accomplish that goal?
8 Therefore, wait for Me—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
until the day I rise up for plunder.
For My decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
in order to pour out My indignation on them,
all My burning anger;
for the whole earth will be consumed
by the fire of My jealousy.
The Day of the Lord is a hard pill to swallow. As we have already learned, it will be a very bad day for the enemies of God and a good day for those who have given their lives to Jesus. What makes it so hard is the vast difference between the two. You see Gods justice in full swing as well as His love. What we must realize is that all of this stems fro His love for all of humanity. It is His love that cannot allow the evil of this earth to continue any longer. It is His love that has been patiently waiting for this day to come. And it is definitely His love that sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, so that we don’t have to face this judgment.
We must think of this judgment as a refining fire that purifies the earth. When you stick gold in a fire and melt it down, all the impurities rise to the top so you can easily remove them from the gold. This allows you to have pure gold. In the same way, God says that He will gather all the nations of the earth and pour out His wrath and burning anger. This will allow for all the evil in the world to be destroyed. After this there will be no more pain, sorrow, hatred, or difficulties that are caused by sin. It will be all removed from the earth like the impurities of the gold, so that all that is left is pure, righteous and good.
This is what God desires for the earth. This is what God wanted from the beginning, but we messed up and brought sin into this world and we continue to do so. In all of this we need to realize our part in this. Our sin causes there to be judgment. We are each responsible for our part. But also remember, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your sin has been paid for so now you get to live forgiven. Because of this, our hearts should be set on telling everyone we see about the forgiveness that they too can have through Jesus Christ. We don’t learn about the Day of the Lord so we can gloat or have confidence that we don’t have to face judgment. We learn about it so we can know the reality of it and that reality will push us and motivate us to share the Gospel.
12 I will leave a meek and humble people among you,
and they will take refuge in the name of Yahweh.
13 The remnant of Israel will no longer
do wrong or tell lies;
a deceitful tongue will not be found
in their mouths.
But they will pasture and lie down,
with nothing to make them afraid.
Nobody likes to be portrayed as weak. It’s not a position that gets glorified, it’s normally a position that gets taken advantage of. Meekness and humility sometimes get mistaken for weakness. This is far from the truth. Meekness is “essentially an attitude or quality of heart whereby a person is willing to accept and submit without resistance to the will and desire of someone else.” This is done when we submit to God. Meekness is strength under control. Humility is very similar, the Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and absence of self. What this means is that we don’t necessarily think less of ourself but we think of ourself less. God and others are on our mind before we think of ourselves.
In todays verses, God tells Zephaniah that in the Day of the Lord, He will leave a remnant that will be meek and humble and they will be defined by different characteristics than the verses before. This means that they will be totally surrendered to God and His path for them. This has not happened, in fact D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” The closest thing we have seen is Jesus, but one can not call Him merely a man.
Jesus showed us exactly how to live a life fully devoted to God. He was the great picture of being meek and humble and his life is what we are to mimic as christians. What are some things you need to change to be considered meek and humble. Remember, the idea behind this is being fully committed and submitted to God and His will for our lives. Look at your life and see what areas you can submit or give over to God.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” 29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
The book of Zephaniah takes place thousands of years after the creation of the universe and everything in it. So why would we go back to the day creation was completed when studying the book of Zephaniah? Zephaniah talks about the day of the Lord all throughout his writings. On this day the simpleness, purity and perfection of creation will be brought back through the refining fire of God’s wrath. This is what restores creation back to God’s original plan.
To fully understand what that looks like, we have to go back to the beginning. Look at todays verses, God blessed mankind and put them over everything in the earth. This means we are the ones left to manage and take care of God’s creations. God also showed how He gave us everything we needed. This means that we wanted for nothing. We had everything we could ever need. Then God finishes His creation and He says, “It is very good.” Perfection, real goodness, and love were embodied on that day. This is what God will restore the world back to.
The refining fire of God’s wrath and judgment will restore humanity and all creation back to the days right after creation. The perfection of relationships, the perfection of nature and the perfection of our relationship with God will be restored. It will be a beautiful time for the believer in Jesus. Let’s look forward to this day and invite others to be a part of what God will one day bring at the Day of the Lord.