November 21, 2021
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you...”
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness; seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:1-3
Of the little information we have about the prophet Zephaniah, we are certain that he prophesied during the era of the divided kingdom at the time of Judah’s darkest days. Zephaniah commented during the reigns of Judah’s most wicked kings, Manasseh and Amon, and he was around toward the beginning of the reign of the young righteous king, Josiah. Given the evil culture that had taken over Jerusalem, it is easy to see why Zephaniah’s primary message focused on God’s impending judgment. Zephaniah speaks about the “day of the Lord” more than any other Old Testament book.
Yet, the purpose of prophecy is to reveal the ending BEFORE the story unfolds. Every good storyteller knows that a story is not a legend until it ends. Therefore, the prophet’s message tells of TWO endings, one of the unrepentant hearer and another for the repentant. We must understand that God desires that all people everywhere will repent.
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him. But others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.” Acts 17:30-32
This idea of God’s grace and mercy is not solely a New Testament “Christian” idea. It is inconsistent with God’s character throughout Scripture. We see it in God’s sending of Jonah to preach to Nineveh, and we also see God’s heart in Ezekiel’s message.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. ‘Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?’” Ezekiel 18:23
There is a judgment, a “reckoning” forthcoming for our generation, just as sure as there was a reckoning for Zephaniah’s generation. And your response to that message of impending judgment will be one of the two responses to Zephaniah’s prophecy. I plead with you to turn to Messiah Jesus! He is our only refuge and salvation, yet His atonement is offered liberally to anyone who would turn from their sin and receive it. Invite Him into your heart and surrender your life to His Lordship today. You WILL be hidden in the coming day of the Lord’s anger.