Several prophets talked about the Day of the Lord. What is it? It is a day of reckoning. It is a day of judgement. In the end, it will be a time of joy for those who trust in the Lord, but a time of sorrow for the unrighteous. Zephaniah talks about a Day of the Lord for Israel and Judah. When God would discipline His chosen people and punish the wicked, especially the leaders who should be guiding God’s people to the Lord, not to foreign false gods and idols. It is something we should take note today. There is one God. And He does not approve of our “acceptance” and “tolerance” of false religions, of lifestyles that go against His will, of putting other things before Him, beside Him, or in place of him. There is one way to God and that is through Jesus only.
Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.
“And it shall be, in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. In the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold, who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.
“And there shall be on that day,” says the LORD, “the sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, a wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off.
“And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.’
During Zephaniah’s day, Israel and Judah has gone corrupt. For a time, Josiah brought the people of Israel back to the Lord, but it didn’t take long for the wicked kings after him to corrupt the people. And some simply looked the other way and just went along with society. Sound familiar? How many of the churches today are doing the same thing? But, God is watching, and I am sure He is not pleased.
The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers.
“I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse.” Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.”
So often people expect the Lord to come down and “heal their land” and take away their troubles. But often the part we forget is that we need to repent and change our ways for our land to be healed. But often, it will get worse before it gets better, especially for those who turn away from God. The things of this earth will not save us. We need to put our trust in God not men or riches.
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.
But, God loves His people. He always has a plan and is always ready to save those who trust Him. And when He disciplines His children, He does not look kindly on those who mistreat them or threaten them. He is that protective Father.
“I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached My people, and made arrogant threats against their borders. Therefore, as I live,” says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah—overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them.” This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations.”
Israel will always be God’s people. Thankfully He brought the rest of us into His plan of salvation along with the Jewish people. Many have sought to wipe them out, but when they threaten God’s people, things do not go well for them. Moab and Ammon are two of those. They went against God’s people and where are they now? They are archeological sites.
“In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”
God never gives up on His people. No matter our sin, He will pursue us. He sent His Son to die on a cross for us. And Jesus paid for our sins. We just need to accept His free gift and turn to Him. But, as in the day of Zephaniah, there are consequences. God disciplines us so that we may become closer to Him. He removed those from Israel who were corrupt, to purify His people. Through their captivity, the remnant of Israel turned to God and began rebuilding His temple and their walls and city.
Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
“I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden. Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” says the LORD.
God always follows a warning with hope and grace. Though He will punish His people, He will also bless them. After their captivity, they did return home and were feared by the nations around them. Those who wronged them were dealt with. Each of the nations who threatened and mistreated Israel no longer exist. That should be a warning to those who threaten them today. Throughout God’s word, His promise is that we do not have to be afraid, we do not have to be ashamed. But, God pours out His mercy and grace upon all of us. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” The payment for your sin and for my sin had been paid. When He rose from the dead, He conquered sin and death so that you and I may live. Nothing we can do can earn that. But Jesus can. And He did it for us. And one day, as He gathered the remnant of Israel after their captivity, He will gather all who trust in Him to be with Him forever and He will reward and bless each of us.