Zephaniah, Part II: Day Of The Lord
But I think we should take a look at the purpose of these 'doom and
gloom' prophecies for we Christians who live in the very last days.
Yes, they can be gloomy but they are so for a reason. Men have done
great evil and God, if he is just, must recompense. But
God's righteousness is not man's righteousness. He has a much higher
standard that fallen men have. God does not just give justice to the
highest bidder or those who can bribe the Judge the most. He does
not show favoritism based on race or economic standing. But he does
pay particular attention to the poor, the helpless and those who
lack the resources to corrupt the justice system and watches most
carefully how the rich treat them. His anger is particularly aimed
at those who have power and abuse it, especially against the poor
Before we get to chapter two of Zephaniah, I wanted to spend a
bit of time on the theme of the 'Day of the Lord' as it is used
in the last part of the first chapter of Zephaniah. When the
Lord utters his voice about the Day of the Lord we must keep in
mind that there have been many Day's of the Lord. The OT
prophets spoke of the day of the Lord as it related to the
punishment of Israel for her sins and in most instances, it was
related to the fall of Israel to the King of Babylon in 586BC.
But the deluge can very much be considered a day of the Lord as
well, though the prophecies of Noah were not recorded for us is
such a way as they made the official cannon of scripture. In
short, there is no single 'day of the Lord' as when it comes to
Old Testament Prophecy. In brief, the Day of the Lord is a day
when God brings in judgment upon those who have rebelled against
him, refused to repent and went on doing evil. In essence it is
the day of the Lord's wrath and anger. What is the result of the
day of the Lord in the Old Testament sense? We can get a sense
of it from the book of Lamentations.
How hath the Lord
covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and
cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel,
and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!
The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and
hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong
holds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought them down to
the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes
thereof. He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the horn of
Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand from before the
enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire,
which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an
enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and
slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of
the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. The
Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath
swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong
holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning
The young and the old
lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young
men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day
of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied. Thou hast
called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in
the day of the LORD'S anger none escaped nor remained: those
that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy
But I think we need to understand the day of the Lord as being a day
when a key phase in God's ultimate purpose with mankind is being
fulfilled. This is particularly true in the final Day of the
Lord when the Messiah returns. You see, we need to understand the
whole program God has put in place. I mean the whole
plan that God revealed to us for the redemption and
damnation of the human race, the creation of which was one of God's
deepest regrets. So when we hear the phrase Day of the Lord
we must try and understand it in terms of God's short term and long
term purposes. In the days of the old Prophets like Zephaniah, it
was to redeem Israel. But Israel had sinned and done very great evil
in God's eyes. This God was compelled to judge and recompense Israel
for that was the only way she would receive correction. The Prophets
message did not work. God had to get 'personal and painful' with the
people, and that brothers he did.
Dear readers, with most people, they are hard headed. They don't
listen and are not going to listen to God or his workmen. Only the
pangs of pain and the screams of suffering will make them reconsider
their ways and this is why God had to do what he did back in the
days of Jeremiah, and Isaiah. Sin had reached a point where he could
no longer wink at or ignore it, he had to judge it.
I am the man that hath seen
affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and
brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against
me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.
My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my
bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with
gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they
that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot
get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and
shout, he shutteth out my prayer.
So what is God's plan? I mean really? Is it to make the world and
the people in it better? No, at least not in the way most would
understand it. Is it to just let the world lapse into total evil and
then destroy it? No. God's plan can be encapsulated like this. God
has a plan to let mankind and his character reveal itself to all
creation. The results of sin must be seen for what it is. But
God put an alternative plan in place to redeem all men who
acknowledge and repent of the evil of their doings. We call
these people who decide to take the alternative path, the Church or
in eschatological words, the Bride of Christ. So when we hear the
phrase day of the Lord we must do our best in NT terms to understand
just what God's purpose is. It is two fold.
1. It is to judge the world for its sin and evil
In many ways we can see the purpose of the Day of the Lord in
Christ's words at his first advent, just before the Holy Spirit was
poured out on the early Christians. It is the Spirit of God who is
to show us of things to come.
2. It is to redeem the Israel of God, the Bride of Christ/Church
(called out ones) of the most high.
And when he is come, he will reprove
the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness,
because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of
judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I
have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them
now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will
guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will
shew you things to come.
The idea of the Day of the Lord is not some day of some hate-filled,
vengeful God who is just itching to destroy the earth and burn man
up. Rather it is the painstaking culmination of millennia of
striving with fallen men to get them to be reconciled with their
creator and to a much lesser degree with each other; to turn from
evil, selfishness, fear and doubt and to love the good, be giving,
to have courage and faith.
Why do we have wars? Fear is one big reason. The fear of what others
will do to us. In America this fear has taken transformed itself
into a national paranoia. Now the nation up-ends whole nations that
never attacked us. Why? Fear. Fear and greed. Irrational fear
that says 'Kill them before they even think about killing us'.
It has no faith. This kind of fear always eventually leads
to some kind of sin. If it is the fear of hunger it leads to theft,
it is the fear of attack, it leads to war, if it is the fear of
truth it will lead to lies. Fear is often the first step on the road
to sin. Faith is the first step on the road back to God.
Nevertheless when the
Son of man cometh, \
I can remember just as the US did its Ukraine evil, I was talking
with a National Security official about the crap they had just
started. He talked about the need to 'tie up the Bear' (Russia) and
destroy the Post Soviet-collapse Russian state with coups,
assassinations, Nazi's and terrorists (he did not say specifically
that but I read between the lines) . I could not believe what I was
hearing. But I smelled the fear and heard the hatred in this
person's voice. He did not care one whit for God, the needs of
others, the fate of millions of Russians. No, he just wanted to feed
his fear and hate demons and the only way to do that was with the
blood of others.
shall he find faith on the earth? (Luk 18:8b)
Gone was rational thought; gone was any thought of cooperation,
which had been working quite well with Russia. Gone was any other
thought other than expand the US empire onto Russia's borders and
even into Russia itself, steal Russia's oil and basically make
Russia a huge US gas station whereby America could control Europe's
oil markets and (this was part of the plan too) set Russian against
Russian in a long running civil war that would destroy and
depopulate Russia of the Slavic races. As this person was speaking,
I could almost smell the brimstone steaming over the telephone
receiver. What did this irrational fear and hate get us? Many dead,
Nazi's in power and a policy of utter failure. Russia has its
faults, many of them but the glorification of sodomy and
national apostasy are not among them, unlike America.
After the Day of the Lord, the empire of fear and violence will be
replaced with one of faith and peace. God is going to change
the fundamental principles on which the world works when
he brings in his kingdom. But in order to do that he must replace
and remove those men who refuse to be changed by the Gospel of love.
Those who fan the flames of fear will have their fears come to
fruition. Those who utter lies will eat the bread of delusions.
I also will choose
and will bring their fears upon them;
because when I called, none did answer;
when I spake, they did not hear:
but they did evil before mine eyes,
and chose that in which I delighted not.
The ultimate Day of the Lord (the return of the Messiah, Jesus
Christ) has this two fold purpose then. To redeem the elect as well
as remove and judge the unrepentant damned.
But we as Christians must know and understand some things. God has
put these prophecies in our Bibles for a reason. God has given us a
rough timeline of events to look for before the Day of the Lord. Why
did he do that? He did it because the days leading up to Christ's
coming would be days of enormous deception. One of the
reasons that God gave us these prophecies so that we would not be
deceived. The Day of the Lord has to be looked at in light of
the entirety of what God's plan for mankind since the beginning.
It was and is to restore all things after the fall to God's
immutable character - damnation for the evil, salvation for the
just. In short, it is to redeem mankind of his sins and remake the
world. It is also to totally defeat the works of the devil. The
ultimate purpose of the Day of the Lord must be understood before we
can really understand why it is such a dark day for the world. I did
not say for the saints for they (we) are not of this world
and shall not suffer in the punishment thereof. Again Isiah lays
this out perfectly in just two versus.
This is one of the key purposes of the Day of the Lord. God is going
to get rid of mankind whom he made and now regrets having done so.
But God's love for man and his deep sense of justice would not let
him just destroy all of us outright. No, he is giving us all a
fantastic chance to not only be saved, but to be called a Son
of God! This is a very, very high honor and it makes his
joint heirs with Christ! So for mankind the choice is not just
heaven and hell, but a very high place in God's kingdom or damnation
with all the fallen angels who caused all of this trouble and evil
to begin with.
And I will punish the
world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and
I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will
lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man
more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden
wedge of Ophir.
So for the Day of the Lord for us Christians is one that we look
towards as it is the day of our redemption.
But of the times and
the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so
cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace
and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as
travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should
overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the
children of light, and the children of the day: we
are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not
sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Who shall also confirm you unto the end,
that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus
Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the
fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
But the day of the Lord
will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens
shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall
melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are
therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things
shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in
all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting
unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being
on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth
Many critics have always said that the early apostle's were wrong in
that they thought that Christ would come in their times. Yes, it is
inferred in many places that they seemed to be under the impression
that the day of the Lord was at hand. But Paul despite what others
say, never really said that. Here is what he said.
No. Paul did not see the Day of the Lord coming right away. He made
it plain that there were many things that had to happen first. In
fact, I will lay this out as well to you. Christ said this about the
Day of the Lord that I think is most striking in its
direct simplicity that everyone misses.
Now we beseech you, brethren,
by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering
together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be
troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as
from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no
man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not
come, except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who
opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God,
or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the
temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
When doing any good basic Bible study one must always do ones very
best to note:
Be ye therefore ready
also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think
1. Who is talking
Who is talking in this verse? Christ. Who is he talking to? His
disciples. When was he talking to them. In the first century AD.
2. Who they are talking to
3. The time and situation around the conversation
How many do you think believed that Christ would wait two Biblical
days to revive Israel to her land (two thousand years - Hosea
6:2 cf. 2Pet 2:8). Or that Christ would not return for two
Biblical days. "the Son of man cometh at an
hour when ye think not.
How did Christ
put his return?
When they therefore were come
together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this
time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto
them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,
which the Father hath put in his own power.
Again, Peter also makes plain that the day of the Lord may not come
as soon as many thought.
But, beloved, be not
ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men
count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing
that any should perish, but that all should come to
In closing let me say this. I look at the Day of the Lord as kind of
a spiritual 'D' day. A day that God has fixed that no man can know.
Like D day in WWII, the allies kept the actual day of the invasion
secret. The Nazi's did not know the day or the invasion point. They
only knew that an invasion was coming.
We as part of the Lord's army know a few details but only a few,
like the soldiers of WWII they did not know the day of battle, they
only knew that it was coming and that when it came, they would be in
the thick of it.
Brothers, the Day of the Lord for us though is a day of great
redemption. We shall be redeemed and changed in the span of a second
or two and given bodies that shall never see death. But the fate of
lost man is one that can be described as horror that will go on
forever and ever as the Lord makes an eternal example of
those who rebel against the most high.
Mark S. Watson