(Zephaniah 2:3) “Seek the Lord, All you humble of the land who have carried out His commands; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
The prophet Zephaniah prophesied in Jerusalem and was a man who was at the centre of Judah’s political and religious world. The Book of Zephaniah tells us that he prophesied during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah from 640 to 609 BC (Zephaniah 1:1) The Book of Zephaniah mentions the day of the Lord more than does any other book in the Old Testament, clarifying the picture of Judah’s fall to Babylon in 586BC . While the Book refers primarily to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the land of Israel the prophet saw in the day of the Lord the judgement of God upon his country, his neighbours and eventually the whole earth. (Zephaniah 1:2; 4; 2:10) He prophesied that the day of the Lord was near (1:14), that it would be a time of wrath (1:17) and that ultimately it would result in the blessing of God’s presence among His people (3:17) Now let’s briefly look at these three aspects of this prophecy.
1. The Day of the Lord is near:
The people of God had turned away from the Lord and were living just like the pagan nations surrounding them. There was no difference in the way they lived from those living in the world. They were a people by and large given over to idolatry. God’s people still had their religious ceremonies and observances and attended the worship services but their hearts were far from the Lord. The Day of the Lord would be a time when God’s people would experience a terrible judgement from God because of their refusal to turn back to Him. Prophetically the Day of the Lord is that day when the Lord Jesus will judge the earth for its wickedness and rebellion and when everything that God has not established on the earth will be swept away in the firestorm of His wrath (Zephaniah 1:2-3) (2 Peter 3:10, 12) (2 Thessalonians 1:7b) (Matthew 24:39-41)
We know that a thousand of our years is as one day to the Lord and that He is not slack in keeping His promise to judge the earth and to rescue those who crave for His appearing. (2 Peter 3:8) (2 Timothy 4:8) This causes us all to ask the question, what are we living for? Are we living in this world only for the things of this world and for our lives down here on earth or is it for seeking to do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven? Do we crave for the return of our Lord Jesus the Messiah to rescue us out of this present evil age according to God’s will for His people? (Galatians 1:4) As we look at what is happening in our world it seems that we have entered into the time of Tribulation that is to occur at the end of this present age spoken of by the prophets, the apostles and our Lord Jesus. Are we ready for the Day of the Lord? Will it be for us a day of darkness and gloom or a day of light and joy?
2. The Day of the Lord will be a time of wrath.
In the Bible when we read of God’s judgements they are sent to bring about repentance and spiritual restoration, however, when He sends His wrath there is no reprieve as we saw in the flood in the time of Noah. The ark of salvation was the only place of refuge. At the end it was only a remnant that was spared and so it will be at the end of this present age. The pathway to God’s kingdom and its eternal delights is a narrow pathway and there are only a few that will find it but the path that leads to hell is broad and many there are that walk it both within and without Israel and Christendom. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The only way to be sheltered from God’s wrath when it comes is to be sheltering by faith under the blood of Jesus that has atoned for our sins, that has redeemed us back to God and that has justified us before our God and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. (Romans 5:9) (Ephesians 1:7) (1 John 1:7-9) If we have made the Lord Jesus our Lord and saviour then we will never experience the wrath of God. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9)
3. The Day of the Lord will result in God’s presence among His people.
In that day those who have remained faithful and endured to the end, through the enabling and immense power of the Holy Spirit, will enter into the joy of their Lord when he inaugurates His Messianic Millennial reign on earth. These will co-reign with Him on earth as a kingdom of priests over the nations that have survived His Second Coming. (Revelation 5:10) As for Israel as a nation the prophet tells us that they will be completely restored spiritually and nationally and that together both the natural branches (Jews believers in the Messiah) and the engrafted branches (Gentile believers in the Messiah) will together bear spiritual fruit that will be a blessing the surviving nations. (Zephaniah 3: 9-20) (Romans 11:15-18, 25-27) (Isaiah 2: 1-5)
And so in the midst of the darkness and gloom that is coming in the day of the Lord the prophet writes; “Seek the Lord, All you humble of the land who have carried out His commands; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
The marks of those who will be sheltered from the wrath of God will be those who are humble, who have been diligent and steadfast to carry out God’s commands in His Word, who have sought the righteousness that comes through faith and who have sought humility and struggled against the floodtide of pride and wicked tendencies which hamper all men turning them from the path of righteousness into the path of wickedness.
In this life we will have many afflictions, trials, times of testing and face great temptation and at times we may even fall into a sin and have to confess and renounce it. We will also experience persecution and hostility and rejection by the world and from the unsaved religious ones within wider Christendom. The Apostle Paul wrote that “through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) However we are also told that no matter what happens to us in this life whether good or bad that “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
This world is a titanic that is headed for the iceberg of God’s wrath and there are multitudes that are living it up in the pleasure palaces of this world unaware that ‘the ship’ is going to hit ‘the iceberg’ and sink. None of them have the lifejacket of salvation on even though the lifejacket is available. However, there are a few who have the lifejacket of salvation on being the righteousness of Jesus received by faith and the ones sitting in the lifeboat, cold, in the dark and estranged from those living it up inside the ship but knowing full well that in the end it will be the lifeboat that will rescue them.
Those in the lifeboats with their lifejackets on know that the ship is going to hit the iceberg and sink and everything on it that people hold dear and so they remain in the lifeboat. They may be mocked by those in the ship who are living it up and have no care about the coming destruction that those in the lifeboats have been warning them is coming. In these uncertain and perilous days the whole world is heading for the ‘iceberg’ of God’s wrath that will tear the world apart and sweep everything away that God has not established. (Zephaniah 1:2-3) The only safe place to be sheltered from the coming wrath is to be in the lifeboat of salvation, justified and cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus and clothed with the garments of salvation, the life jacket of Jesus righteousness received by faith. (Romans 3:21-26)
It was said of the Titanic that not even God could sink it. Those who believed this partied on into the night unaware of the dark and deep watery grave that lay ahead. After the ship had hit the iceberg and had started to sink some made it into the lifeboats but the majority perished. In the time when God starts to pour out his wrath there will be those who will turn to the Lord at the last minute even as the wrath starts to fall but for the majority it will be too late and they will sink with the ship into the fiery pit from which there is no reprieve.
For those in Israel and in the Gentile nations who avail themselves of the life boat of salvation only found in the Lord Jesus God says to them; “Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more. In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:14-17)
The question remains; Are you clothed with the lifejacket of Jesus’ righteousness, justified, redeemed and cleansed by the His atoning blood and sitting in the lifeboat of salvation? because the Day of the Lord is near when the ship of this world will hit the iceberg of His wrath and it will surely sink into the dark and murky depths with all who remain on board!