The day of יְהוָה
Intro: Let us say the Lord’s Prayer: “ …… Thy Kingdom come! ….” – we pray for it. It is praying for Jesus to return, to set up His throne in Zion. A Kingdom that is an everlasting Kingdom, and a Dominion, that endures throughout all generations. THE KING IS COMING! [P]We are looking for the day that the King comes. When YHWH rules. The King is coming – the day that He comes is His day – the DAY OF יְהוָה! What a wonderful day! This should preoccupy us, be our hope and motivation, the great event that we are looking forward to. What will that day be like? Zephaniah, more than any other book, speaks of the Day of the LORD. (3x in Isaiah, 2x in Ezekiel & Amos, 5x in Joel, but 6x in Zephaniah. So lets read of the Day of His coming: [P] [read Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent before the Lord יְהוָה! For the day of יְהוָה is near, for יְהוָה has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests., Zephaniah 1:14-2:3 Near is the great day of יְהוָה, near and coming very quickly; listen, the day of יְהוָה! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and the high corner towers. I will bring distress on men so that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against יְהוָה; and their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of יְהוָה’s wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, o nation without shame, before the decree takes effect— the day passes like the chaff— before the burning anger of יְהוָה comes upon you, before the day of יְהוָה’s anger comes upon you. Seek יְהוָה, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the יְהוָה’s anger.] What does this book that speaks of this great day more than any other book in the Bible have to tell us about this day? [P]
- It is near It says in (Zeph 1:7) and again in (Zeph 1:14)! His day of judgement is not some distant event, far removed, irrelevant, academic speculation that may affect someone else - IT IS NEAR! [P] Judgement is about to fall! We need to urgently do something about our godless state, our distance from Him! Now is the time to get right with the LORD before it is too late! His day of judgement is imminent! (Zeph 1:14) Many think that the Day of the LORD will never come, that there won’t be a day of judgement; others, though acknowledging it or admitting the possibility, think that it is a long way off – they put it out of mind – " it been so long and nothing has happened yet." But יְהוָהsays that the Day of the LORD, this terrible calamitous day, is NEAR! (note the emphasis). It is a great day, and it is coming FAST! [cf. Habakkuk 2:3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.]. The sound of its approach can already be discerned by those who care to listen. It is imminent! The cry is close! The day is near! Jesus said 3x in Revelation 22, “Behold I come quickly” – but it’s been 2000 years and still He has not come, perhaps it is going to be a long time yet. But there are signs when something is about to happen. I still remember when Rhoda was pregnant with Hannah – the test from the Doctor said that a baby was coming but you couldn’t see anything. Later the midwife let us hear a heart beat – there was definitely something alive in there! Rhoda got bigger, and it wasn’t my good cooking! The signs were mounting; there was no doubt that she was gong to have a baby. Rhoda likes walking in the hills and we did so even though she was carrying quite a load. It was the day before she was due and we were walking in Victoria Park, and she felt a twinge – the first labour pain – it tells you something is imminent! The pains got more severe and closer together – it was time to ring the midwife – it was about to happen! So it is with the Day of יְהוָה – there are signs – Jesus told us in Matthew 24 what to expect, what the birth pangs are. We have seen the establishment of the state of Israel in the land, the fig tree. Wars and rumours of wars – there hasn’t been a century like the 20th for world war and nationalistic uprisings. Earthquakes – a woman at work called Lesley has a great interest in geology, but not God; she keeps track of earthquakes – a dispassionate observer – she remarks about the increase in seismic activity – the birth pangs are happening! The signs are there – Jesus’ return is near! [Romans 13:11-12 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.].
- It is a day of wrath [P] (Zeph 1:15) says that that day is a day of wrath! A bitter cry goes up! (Zeph 1:14) Even the courageous warrior will cry out in that day, in anguish and bitterness as he is overcome, powerless in that day. The cry will go up because it is a terrible day, a day of wrath, not of peace. What an awesome, dreadful DAY it will be! Note the emphasis on this DAY (6x in one verse) – it is like repeated blows from a boxer until the opponent is knocked senseless, the wicked utterly destroyed. יְהוָה’s accumulated wrath is unleashed! It overflows in all consuming fury! Earlier, some in Israel had an idealized view of the Day of the LORD, and Amos had to show them that, for those living in sin, that day was to be dreaded in horror – not as they imagined [cf. Amos 5:18-20 Alas, you who are longing for the day of יְהוָה, for what purpose will the day of יְהוָה be to you? It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him. Will not the day of יְהוָה be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?]. Have we come to terms with the reality of its coming? Do we appreciate its imminence? Do we have any idea of what it will be like? We long for Jesus to return, for the day when He will come back – [cf. Malachi 3:1-3 The Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says יְהוָה of armies. (there they are delighting in the Lord, seeking Him) But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to יְהוָה offerings in righteousness.] We long for that day – but that is a day of when He comes as judge. He is coming in wrath! When He establishes righteousness and justice – but to do so His wrath is released against all unrighteousness – evil will be judged. The NT talks of this day: [Acts 17:31 He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.] The Bible is absolutely consistent: [Romans 2:16 the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.]
- It is a day of distress – desolation and destruction [P] As Jesus’ judgement is unleashed, it bring distress to men (Zeph 1:17). Verse (Zeph 1:15) tells us it is a day of trouble and distress, of destruction and desolation, of darkness and deep darkness, clouds and dark clouds. Each build on the former - it is a day of terrible anguish, destruction and desolation as has never been know before in the dark history of man. It is a black day – it is a day of gloom and deepest darkness. For the seventh time in a row (in Zeph 1:16) that "Day" is mentioned. It is a day of trumpet blast – calling men to war. Perhaps also the trumpet that sounds at the Lord’s return. The trumpet summons the people. This is the call to war – a battle against the cities and against man-made fortifications. They may think that they have made themselves impregnable but YHWH will destroy them all.YHWH will destroy man who has put his trust in himself, his man-made security rather than trusting יְהוָה to be his defence. [Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says יְהוָה, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from יְהוָה.]. יְהוָה will bring to an end all whose trust is in man, whose security is in the things that man has made. יְהוָה Himself will act - He Himself will do it! "I will bring disaster on all man!" The judgement is on "man", on "Adam" – the old unregenerate nature epitomized in Babylon which is destroyed at the end. There are only two men – Adam and Christ – Adam will be destroyed. Only those whose life is Christ will remain. Man, for all his pride, plans, organisation, technology, will not remain – they will go like the blind, not knowing where are going; wandering refugees without hope, direction or purpose. Man will be destroyed! Their blood poured out like dust (cf. Revelation 14:14-20 Sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud (that is Jesus) swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. …… So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.) – Millions and millions of dead! Their flesh will be thrown out like dung (or their intestines spilled out) – to rot away. יְהוָה has determined to destroy them Why? Because they have sinned against יְהוָה !יְהוָה is not capricious; His wrath is not without cause. He is not unjust – this terrible punishment and judgement is fully deserved. Some have a theology that avoids all unpleasantness – but it is a day of distress!
- It is inescapable – money will not buy you a way out [P] Man thinks that he is secure in his fortified cities (cf. Zeph 1:16); but they will not, they cannot, escape יְהוָה. Wherever they go He will pursue them to destroy them. When יְהוָה acts no one can resist or withstand Him nor stay His hand! Nothing that man can do, will be able to save him! [cf. Daniel 4:35 He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’; Isaiah 43:13 “Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”] Man trusts in his wealth – there is security. But all the money they have amassed and delighted in will prove futile (Zeph 1:18). All their riches will not be able to save them. When it comes to the crunch they will prove to be of no value whatsoever Man has invested in this world, that is where he has amassed his resources, he relies on his wealth – you pay enough you buy your way out of anything – not in that day! [Psalm 49:7-9 No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever— that he should live on eternally, that he should not undergo decay.] In that day, all their money will prove useless, on no worth. [Ezekiel 7:19 They will fling their silver into the streets and their gold will become an abhorrent thing; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of יְהוָה.]. Neither defensive strength nor money will be of any use. You cannot escape that day. Some hold to a theology that conveniently removes them from that day – but it is inescapable!
- It is the END! [P] (Zeph 1:18) יְהוָה has determined a day of wrath! – appointed a day when His fury will overflow and consume all that is of Adam, man. The whole earth will be completely consumed! Destroyed entirely in sudden destruction! [cf. Revelation 18:10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’]. Despite man’s great wealth, enterprise and organisation, his destruction will come swiftly - in just one hour! [Ezekiel 7:5-9 “Thus says the Lord יְהוָה, ‘A disaster, unique disaster, behold it is coming! ‘An end is coming; the end has come! It has awakened against you; behold, it has come! ‘Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near—tumult rather than joyful shouting on the mountains. ‘Now I will shortly pour out My wrath on you and spend My anger against you; judge you according to your ways and bring on you all your abominations. ‘My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, יְהוָה, do the smiting.]. Total destruction will come upon man from YHWH because He is a jealous God! He will tolerate no rivals. Man rejected Him for "no-gods" [cf. Deuteronomy 4:24 “For יְהוָה your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. Deuteronomy 6:15 for יְהוָה your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of יְהוָה your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.]. YHWH’s jealousy is a consuming fire, devouring all those who dare to worship another – who give His due, what is His alone, to another [cf. Isaiah 48:11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.] All the inhabitants of the earth, earthly man, men of the dust, "Adam" – all whose home is this world, יְהוָה will bring to a complete end! Hallelujah! Where is your home?!
- What should be our response in light of this? [P]
- Reverence [P] Look back to (v.7). Be silent before the Lord יְהוָה! [Psalm 76:8 You made your judgement known from heaven; the world was afraid and kept silent,] What can one say before יְהוָה when He comes in burning anger?! When the Righteous One comes in judgement?! Every voice is silenced before Him in that day! [cf. Habakkuk 2:20 “But יְהוָה is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”] God judges and every mouth is stopped. [Romans 3:4 Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.”, Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;] What excuse, what defence will you dare utter before the all knowing One who is absolutely just? No answering back, giving excuses and explanations, no self-justifying. Reverent fear before His holiness and absolute righteous judgement. When will the clamour stop and YHWH be allowed His voice? When will He be reverenced for who He is? [ Zechariah 2:13 “Be silent, all flesh, before יְהוָה; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”]. We need to fear יְהוָה!
- Repentance [P] (2:1) יְהוָה issues a call to the nation to gather themselves – calling them together as a nation to come in solemn assembly to seek the LORD – to come in repentance before Him acknowledging their shameless pursuit of other gods, their rejection of Him – their lack of longing, their failure to seek יְהוָה. It is a call to make up their mind – who are they going to serve? – they either serve יְהוָה or idols, you cannot have it both ways. The time of the end will be one where it will not be possible to sit on the fence – both extremes will be exaggerated – It is a time of decision - who is really your god? It is show down time [cf. Joel 3:11-14 Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down, O יְהוָה, Your mighty ones. Let the nations be aroused and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of YHWH is near in the valley of decision.] We need to decide who we are going to serve – turn from living our own lives and live for the King. [Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve יְהוָה, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve יְהוָה.”] Remember Elijah on Mount Carmel? [1 Kings 18:21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If יְהוָה is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word]. Israel had rejected יְהוָה and followed idols, pursued the world’s way, yet thought that they had done nothing wrong! They knew no shame (2:1). The call for national, collective repentance is URGENT! The Day of the LORD is fast approaching (cf. 1:14) – they must gather before יְהוָה before it is too late, while there is still time to repent, while grace is still available. Because there will come a time when God’s wrath is poured out and then it will be too late! When YHWH’s anger is poured out, mercy will not be able to be found. YHWH relented time and again in Ch.7 of Amos but then in [Amos 8:2 they were too rotten, like fruit: He said, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then יְהוָה to me, “The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.] There will come a time when you can no longer repent. יְהוָה’s judgement will be carried out rapidly – scarcely has the order been given before it takes effect. The anger of יְהוָה consumes all before it – like chaff it is rapidly burnt in the fire. יְהוָה’s anger is BURNING – It consumes. The grain is what is good; the chaff is the rubbish that is blown away in judgement, consumed in the fire. [Isaiah 17:13 The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters, but He will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like chaff in the mountains before the wind, or like whirling dust before a gale.] Chaff has no substance – as soon as flame is set to it, it is burnt up – there being no wood to sustain it. So too will evil be before the LORD in His consuming wrath – It will be rapidly burnt up, totally consumed in a moment. John the Baptist said that Jesus would winnow the grain and burn the chaff. The burning, consuming anger of יְהוָה’s jealousy is emphasized by repetition. We play it down or try to ignore it - but the Scripture emphasizes יְהוָה’s BURNING ANGER! [cf. Zeph 1:15 Hebrews 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.] [2 Thessalonians 1:7 the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus]. There is coming a Day when יְהוָה’s anger will come upon you. The message is: repent, humble yourself before the LORD before it is too late! (2:3) A final desperate call for repentance before it is too late, before the day of יְהוָה’s wrath comes.
- Seek יְהוָה [P] We are to repent from our own ways and instead seek יְהוָה. [cf. Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek יְהוָה your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Amos 5:6 “Seek יְהוָה that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, and it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel; Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Isaiah 55:6 Seek יְהוָה while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.). Now is the time to seek יְהוָה, before that day comes. The way to be safe in that day is to be hid in יְהוָה – it is urgent that we seek Him with all our heart. Often we are absorbed with the things of this world – we need to seek יְהוָה and His ….
- Seek righteousness [P] We seek יְהוָה by seeking righteousness and justice, not by relying on our self and our own goodness but depending on Jesus’ perfect righteousness. Instead of pursuing our own desires and ambitions we seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.
- Seek humility [P] The way back to יְהוָה is by humbling yourself, acknowledging sin (confession) – being contrite, broken, ashamed. The self-righteous, those justifying themselves, protesting their innocence – will find no mercy; but the one who humbly confesses his sin – like David in Psalm 51 [cf. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.; Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.; Luke 18:9-14 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”] The call is to humble ourselves. Humility is the key to avoiding God’s wrath - humility is the way to access God’s grace [cf. James 4:6-10 “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.]. Instead of pride, trusting in ourself and our own righteousness, strength, innocence and security; it is making oneself low – acknowledging your utter helplessness, hopelessness and failure. Instead of depending on ourself, it is depending on the LORD – His righteousness, His mercy. The essential quality is HUMILITY. It is the poor, the oppressed, those patiently humbly submitting under suffering, looking to the LORD alone for deliverance; that will find escape on that dreadful day. It is the lowly who are delivered by יְהוָה [cf. Psalm 76:9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the humble of the earth.]. It is to them that the Good News is directed [cf. Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord יְהוָה is upon me, because יְהוָה has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted]. Humility is the only way to escape יְהוָה’s wrath – that is why it is to be actively sought. Yet we encourage self-assertiveness and self-esteem, ambition and achievement, wealth and greatness. Humbly depending upon Him. We seek יְהוָה through HUMILITY – coming in repentance, on our face in contrition before Him. It is the only way – the narrow gate that few find. SEEK the LORD and live!
- There is a hope of escape [P] Being spared is not guaranteed (“Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of יְהוָה’s anger”), but by seeking יְהוָה in humility there is hope of avoiding destruction -"perhaps" you will find grace and be hid from the dreadful terror that is coming – יְהוָה’s burning fury. The day of יְהוָה is a dreadful day but there is hope of deliverance (cf. Joel 2:12-14 “Yet even now,” declares יְהוָה, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to יְהוָה your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him? Amos 5:14-15 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may יְהוָה God of armies be with you, just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps יְהוָה God of armies may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.; Isaiah 26:20-21 Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. For behold, יְהוָה is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain.). We need to hide in the shadow of the Almighty till that day has run its course – looking to Him alone for deliverance. There is the possibility of escape if we humble ourselves and seek יְהוָה.