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Finding Jesus in Zephaniah

There are special days in our lives that hold particular expectations: Christmas Day, birthday, wedding day, or graduation day. We anticipate, eagerly prepare, and await its arrival. We don’t know for sure how it’ll look or turn out but our hope is peaked for the best day ever. Our last prophet before the Babylonian conquest is Zephaniah and he gave us a message about a day, unlike any other prophet: The Day of the LORD.

Zephaniah’s focus, the Day of the LORD, has two references. Stay with me. When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon rode into Jerusalem it was the fulfillment of many prophecies, including Zephaniah’s, that judgment would fall. In other words, Babylon would be God’s instrument of temporary punishment to His chosen people. However, this would only be a forerunner to the final Day of the LORD. As you read this book you can identify which coming event, Babylon or Christ, by the context. Zephaniah used words like ‘everything’, ‘face of the earth’, or ‘mankind’. These indicate the final Day of the LORD. When he refers to Judah and Jerusalem it alerts us to the coming, temporary conquest of the Babylonians.

The description of the great Day of the LORD (used 23 times) is similar to the prophet Joel but more importantly, to Jesus’ own description in Matt. 24:29-31. It will be a day unlike any other when there are sounds of grief, ruin and desolation, darkness and gloom, and a trumpet blowing the war cry (1:14-16). It’s the day of God’s wrath.

This doesn’t sound like a book we’d enjoy reading, does it? Yet Zephaniah writes that it will also be a time of singing and dancing (3:14-17). How can it be both? That’s where we find Jesus.

When a person seeks forgiveness for their sin and desires a new life in Christ, they are, as Jesus said in John 3, born again. Their sins are literally washed away and they are in right standing with God. The judgment, punishment, was placed on Jesus and they have no fear of God’s wrath anymore. The Day of the LORD that Zephaniah described brings no fear to a believer. Even if we are physically present on that Day, God will protect us, even hide us, from the judgments on the earth. Interestingly, Zephaniah’s name means hidden by or for God. That is great comfort.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

God’s desire is for all mankind to be saved but we know that all mankind will not bow their knee voluntarily, remaining in rebellion. He has a remnant though, a smaller part of mankind, Jew and Gentile, that will humble themselves, submit to Him, and willingly follow Him. That’s my family and I hope it’s yours.

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