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. (Zephaniah 1:7)
The Day Of The Lord Is At Hand
Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah began reigning at the age of eight. His kingdom would be the final vestige of truth and righteousness in the remaining kingdom of Judah before God would destroy Jerusalem and send His chosen people into seventy-year captivity by the hand of the Babylonians. In little over fifty years the nation of Israel would be no more. The final day of wrath promised by God through the prophets was coming to bear upon an unruly, rebellious and ever increasingly wicked people. Zephaniah would be one of the final voices seeking to bring the people back to the Lord but knowing the heart of the people would not listen. It was time to remind the world of the wrath of God. Zephaniah brings a piercing and harsh reality to Judah to the nature and character of the fury of the Lord. His message begins with the declaration that God will utterly consume all things from off the land including man and beast, birds of the heaven, fish of the sea and all those who deny the power of God. Baal worship had corrupted the minds of the people as they fell headlong into the wickedness of idolatry and immorality but these things would be cut off and destroyed. For those who turned the backs from following the Lord and have not sought or inquired of the Lord would be destroyed. The day of the Lord was at hand. Judgment day had arrived and the warnings were posted for all to see. A sacrifice has been prepared and the guests invited. All those who are guilty will be punished from the princes and the king’s children to the common man. The land had been filled with the violence of greed, avarice, and lusts but these storehouses would be destroyed. Complacent hearts are to be awakened to the reality of the wrath of God. Many men think God will not do good or evil and they look at the Creator of the world as merely a puppet of man’s own design. Nothing will be further from the truth when the judgment of God comes upon Judah. Their goods will be plundered, houses laid waste, vineyards empty and the prosperity of the land will be destroyed. The great day of the Lord was near. It was a day of wrath, trouble, distress, devastation, desolation, darkness, gloominess, clouds and thick darkness, trumpets, and alarms against fortified cities and high towers. There would be no escape. Because they have sinned against the Lord He would rain down judgment in His fury on a disobedient and rebellious people. Their blood shall be poured out like dust and their flesh like manure. Nothing will be able to save them in the great and terrible day of the Lord.
Zephaniah’s message is powerful with a clear message of God’s wrath. In less than two thousand words the prophet declares a warning to Judah, the scope of divine judgment with the hope of God’s mercy in repentance and promise of redemption. With few years left as the nation of the Lord, Israel stood on the brink of the coming wrath of God. The day of the Lord was at hand. It came and fulfilled all the promises of God described by Zephaniah and the other prophets. Complacency can easily sway the mind to disbelieve a day of wrath is coming but the message of the prophets echoes through the centuries the same message to rebellious man. The character of the Lord God has remained unchanged and while Israel is no more there is a day of judgment coming for all men that will be filled with the same wrath and cleansing as promised by the prophets. Denying the anger of the Lord against unrighteousness does not remove the stark reality of His wrath. God is not willing that any man should perish but He has prepared a place to punish those who are disobedient. It is real, it is huge and it is a powerful testimony to the nature of a righteous God. Most men deny God and many of those who believe in God deny the nature of His severity. Zephaniah illustrates the impact of the anger of the Lord against all unrighteousness.
There is always a message of redemption offered when the wrath of God is preached. God is not a vengeful God that is without mercy and kindness. He is angry about sin and will punish those who disobey Him because He is righteous and His judgments are true. Jerusalem would be redeemed in the spirit of Jesus Christ as the gospel is preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of God’s grace. The nation of God is no longer bound by physical demographics but the spiritual habitation of the kingdom of Christ found in the church of Christ. Jesus purchased the church to redeem all those who would come to the Son of God seeking the forgiveness of sins through His blood and cleansing in baptism. Glory awaits all those who will embrace the eternal grace of God and His divine mercy. However, rebellion and disobedience will usher the wrath of God upon the hearts of all those who will trifle with the righteous character of the Lord God Almighty. The day of the Lord is real and it is coming upon the disobedient just as certain as the words of Zephaniah foretold the coming wrath upon Jerusalem. There is nothing more frightening and terrible as the day of the Lord against unrighteousness. Zephaniah offers a glimpse of the severity of God that all men must know and heed. The day of the Lord is at hand. He has prepared a sacrifice and He has invited His guests. Be silent in the presence of the Lord God.