Friday, March 3, 2017

Zephaniah, part 2


Zephaniah prophesies about the Great Day of the Lord in Zephaniah 1:14-18. I’ve put in bold red print the words that show the complete devastation of what will happen:
14 "The great day of the LORD is near—
       near and coming quickly.
       Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter,
       the shouting of the warrior there.
 15 That day will be a day of wrath,
       a day of distress and anguish,
       a day of trouble and ruin,
       a day of darkness and gloom,
       a day of clouds and blackness,
 16 a day of trumpet and battle cry
       against the fortified cities
       and against the corner towers.
 17 I will bring distress on the people
       and they will walk like blind men,
       because they have sinned against the LORD.
       Their blood will be poured out like dust
       and their entrails like filth.
 18 Neither their silver nor their gold
       will be able to save them
       on the day of the LORD's wrath.
       In the fire of his jealousy
       the whole world will be consumed,
       for he will make a sudden end
       of all who live in the earth."
Yikes! Hurry.
Hurry and gather together (Zephaniah 2: 1-3):
1 Gather together, gather together,
       O shameful nation,
 2 before the appointed time arrives
       and that day sweeps on like chaff,
       before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you,
       before the day of the LORD's wrath comes upon you.
 3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
       you who do what he commands.
       Seek righteousness, seek humility;
       perhaps you will be sheltered
       on the day of the LORD's anger.
The rest of chapter 2 tells what will happen to the west of Israel (vs. 4 – 7), to the east (vs. 8 – 11), to the south (vs. 12) and to the north vs. 13 – 15).
Zephaniah 3: 1 – 4:                                           
1 Woe to the city of oppressors,
       rebellious and defiled!
 2 She obeys no one,
       she accepts no correction.
       She does not trust in the LORD,
       she does not draw near to her God.
 3 Her officials are roaring lions,
       her rulers are evening wolves,
       who leave nothing for the morning.
 4 Her prophets are arrogant;
       they are treacherous men.
       Her priests profane the sanctuary
       and do violence to the law.
We see that Jerusalem is spiritually bankrupt. Notice the pride evident in verse 2. In the rest of Zephaniah 3 the Lord says to wait for him, he will restore His remnant, purify them for the purpose of service to Him in fellowship with others, re-gather them for the purpose of worship, humble and forgive them. For a description of the remnant, read chapter 3: 12 – 13:
12 But I will leave within you
       the meek and humble,
       who trust in the name of the LORD.
 13 The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
       they will speak no lies,
       nor will deceit be found in their mouths.
       They will eat and lie down
       and no one will make them afraid."
Notice the humility? The remnant will be righteous and honest. They will find provision, rest and security. Finally there are 6 blessings which are sovereign acts of the Lord in verses 18 – 20:
18 "The sorrows for the appointed feasts
       I will remove from you;
       they are a burden and a reproach to you.
 19 At that time I will deal
       with all who oppressed you;
       I will rescue the lame
       and gather those who have been scattered.
       I will give them praise and honor
       in every land where they were put to shame.
 20 At that time I will gather you;
       at that time I will bring you home.
       I will give you honor and praise
       among all the peoples of the earth
       when I restore your fortunes
       before your very eyes,"
       says the LORD.

The Lord will 1) remove sorrows, 2) punish oppressors, 3) rescue the lame, 4) gather the scattered, 5) bestow honor and praise and 6) restore their fortunes. The Day of the LORD is characterized by both judgment and blessing.