If I had my choice to write on any topic for this article, this would not be it. However, I try to let my scripture reading dictate what I will write about, and today’s reading was from Zephaniah chapter one. Readers prefer positive content, but this article is the opposite. It does not speak of God’s uplifting hand. Instead, it looks at the day of wrath. The great day of the Lord will be tearful, and Zephaniah tells us three characteristics of that day.
First, the sound heard on that day will be bitter because the mighty will cry aloud (Zephaniah 1:14). Second, the emotional state experienced on that day will be one of distress and anguish (Zephaniah 1:15). Third, it will be a day of darkness, alarms, and battle cries (Zephaniah 1:16), all because humanity has sinned against the Lord (Zephaniah 1:17).
It may seem strange to begin an article in this way; to talk about the destruction the Lord will unleash on this world without first laying out a multitude of reasons why it is necessary. However, this stark opening is exactly how Zephaniah begins his prophecy, and these are not his words; these are the words of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:1). Even if Zephaniah’s prophecy is not the message we wanted to hear at this moment, we should pay attention because God is the author.
On that great day of the Lord, all humanity will be cut off (Zephaniah 1:3), but several types of people are specifically called out.
1. Idolaters will not stand on that day (Zephaniah 1:5). Anyone who rejects God and puts something else in his place will feel the full weight of the day of the Lord.
2. People with divided hearts will not escape either; those who bow to the Lord but also worship something else (Zephaniah 1:5). You cannot serve both God and mammon, and we cannot mix our worship of the one true God with false religion. Those who do will be surrounded by darkness on that day.
3. Those who followed the Lord for a while but turned back (Zephaniah 1:6) will cry out in bitterness on that day. Even those who prefer to use the euphemistic term “deconstructing their faith” to make their apostasy sound pleasant will be the target of God’s wrath.
4. The complacent will also feel the anguish of that day; those who say, the Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill (Zephaniah 1:12). Their goods will be plundered, and their houses will be laid to waste (Zephaniah 1:13). The unconcerned, those who have no fear of the Lord, have every reason to fear.
Anything we trust in other than God will fail. Neither their riches nor their gold shall be able to deliver them. In the fire of his jealousy, the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end, he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth (Zephaniah 1:18).
This missive may not have been the message you hope to hear; it certainly was not the message I had planned to write, but this is what the word of God says. There is mercy for those who look to the Lord, but too often, we forget that grace will be necessary because we forget that the great day of the Lord is near and hastening fast (Zephaniah 1:14).