The Day of the Lord's Judgment

Zephaniah 1.7,12-18

Good News Translation (GNT)

  7  The day is near when the Lord will sit in
   judgment; so be silent in his presence.
   The Lord is preparing to sacrifice his people
   and has invited enemies to plunder Judah.

12  "At that time I will take a lamp and search
   Jerusalem. I will punish the people who are
   self-satisfied and confident, who say to
   themselves, 'The Lord never does anything,
   one way or the other.'
13  Their wealth will be looted and their houses
   destroyed. They will never live in the houses
   they are building or drink wine from the
   vineyards they are planting."
14  The great day of the Lord is near - very near
   and coming fast! That day will be bitter, for
   even (a) the bravest soldiers will cry out in
15  It will be a day of fury, a day of trouble and
   distress, a day of ruin and destruction, a day
   of darkness and gloom, a black and cloudy
16  a day filled with the sound of war trumpets
   and the battle cry of soldiers attacking fortified
   cities and high towers.
17  The Lord says, "I will bring such disasters
   on the human race that everyone will grope
   about like someone blind. They have sinned
   against me, and now their blood will be
   poured out like water, and their dead bodies
   will lie rotting on the ground."
18  On the day when the Lord shows his fury,
   not even all their silver and gold will save
   them. The whole earth will be destroyed by
   the fire of his anger. He will put an end -
   a sudden end - to everyone who lives
   on earth.

   Zephaniah 1:14 That day - even
   Listen! That terrible day is
   coming when even


Taken from 'word-on-the-web' supplied by the
Scripture Union

Two sides of God

A catastrophic event is coming and two things are clear: its total impact and its inevitability.

Much Old Testament prophecy works on a conditional basis - unless there is change there will be consequences - but this is different. Nothing can now avert the impending disaster.

The little book of Zephaniah is a reminder to us that there are two sides to God.

Yes, he is merciful, loving, protective and infinitely good. But he also says 'no'. Very firmly. Some behaviour just will not do.

All of creation will be swept away - and Jerusalem will be destroyed. How can this be?

Perhaps because, although it is not spelt out here, beyond the devastation lies restoration.

This is purging rather than a total and final destruction. Evil must be removed to prepare for a new and better future.

The root cause of this is their worship of other gods.

God's patience is exhausted. Pagan shrines had existed in the Jerusalem area since at least the time of Solomon, but Manasseh had taken this to new levels. The worship of anything but the Lord was acceptable.

Even as the destruction hangs over them, their attitude is one of careless complacency. God had no place in their world.

To Zephaniah's readers God seems powerless. He is irrelevant and can do nothing, either good or bad. He is a non-god.

And the prophet says that as far as he himself is concerned, his job is to be like a scrutineer, going round the city of Jerusalem armed with a powerful lamp, shining it into people's lives and searching out the guilty.

The parallels with our own situation are evident. Any god will do, preferably one of our own making who does not make demands on us.

We live, at least in most rich societies, for our own pleasure, building, planting, preparing for a future that we think is secure.

Recession has undermined some of the old certainties, but we still tend to assume that we are in control, that we can solve any crisis from economic meltdown to global warming.

We continue to worship our modern idols convinced that God, if he exists, will not or cannot do anything.

So don't hide from him. God will find you out.

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