The Great Day of the Lord
Open Your Bible
Zephaniah 1:1-18, Romans 9:19-24, 2 Peter 3:8-10
Scripture Reading: Zephaniah 1:1-18, Romans 9:19-24, 2 Peter 3:8-10
“The day of the Lord…”
There are lots of passages throughout Scripture pointing to “the day of the Lord” as judgment, like Isaiah 13:6, which instructs the reader to “Wail! For the day of the LORD is near.” The instruction to “wail” suggests some sort of reckoning. But there are other passages that speak of a joyous day: “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous” (Revelation 19:1–2).
The day of the Lord seems to be a culmination of things, when God will set all things aright. It is a day of judgment against wickedness—those who will not humble themselves will be humbled—and a day of salvation for those who love God. So our understanding of this event really depends on which camp we’re in; it all comes back to the saving grace of Jesus.
The prophecy we read in Zephaniah 1 is deeply troubling, thick with wrath, destruction, and a distressing commentary on our inability to save ourselves. The prophet’s words remind us of the great and awesome nature of God; He is not to be trifled with, and He will not be mocked. He will not leave sin unpunished, nor will He be placated with cheap offerings or empty lip service. He is a holy God, and He will purify all creation from the stain of wickedness. When the day of the Lord comes, those who have given their hearts over to the things of this world will be brought low.
That’s an uncomfortable idea. It requires us to examine our own hearts and ask ourselves, Am I like those who pledge loyalty to the Lord, while at the same time pledging loyalty to the world? Do I really long to see the goodness of the Lord above all else? We simply cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). When we consider the day of the Lord, we ought to be driven to repentance.
I am struck by these words in Zephaniah 1:7: “The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated his guests.” This would have been a familiar image to the Jews, because they understood what regular sacrifices in the temple entailed. Each sacrifice was a twofold sign: an image of God’s holy burning wrath against sin, and a reminder that God would provide a substitute payment for His people. Here, even in the midst of Zephaniah’s terrible warning, is a reminder of God’s just wrath poured out on Christ.
That was a day of judgment, of wrath and distress, of darkness and gloom, when Christ’s blood was poured out on our behalf. Even now, “the great day of the LORD is near, near and rapidly approaching” (Zephaniah 1:14). May knowing this truth lead us to repentance. May it lead us to Christ.
Rebecca Faires loves the gospel story and needs it every morning when she wakes up to her five little people. Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in German from Hillsdale College, and most recently worked as the managing editor and writer at She Reads Truth. She now works from her log cabin in the hills of Tennessee, writing and illustrating books with her favorite mountain man. There she enjoys porch-sitting as it rains, reading the Oxford English Dictionary, and getting in way over her head. She is expecting her sixth baby and her first book in February of 2019.