The great day of the Lord is near, And hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord; The mighty man shall cry there bitterly (Zep. 1:14)
The great day of the Lord is a recurrent theme in the Bible. It is a day the Israelites longed for, as they in their narrow conception of the day, thought it to be a day of God’s vengeance on their enemies. But God in his impartiality does not see his great day in that light. As far as God is concerned, his great day is a day of judgment on the ungodly, and a day of reward for the righteous. God’s judgment comes to the wicked and the ungodly from time to time for their failure to repent (2 Chr. 7:14). It comes to the individuals as well as to the group in their sinfulness. It came to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18). It fell upon Cain for the shed blood of his brother (Gen. 4). Ahab, his wife and family experienced God’s Judgment for their evil deeds (1Kgs 22:29ff; 2 Kgs 9:30-37; 10) It is a fearful thing to fall under God’s Judgment (Heb. 10:31). But His blessings and favour are upon those who fear him and obey Him even up to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:6). To the Israelites of Prophet Zephaniah’s day, God’s Judgment came when they were invaded by the Babylonians and carried into slavery as a result of their failure to turn away from their ungodliness.
Prophet Zephaniah’s prophecy had a double dimension- the immediate and the future. The invasion of Israel by the Babylonians was the immediate fulfillment of the prophecy. The future fulfillment of the prophecy has to do with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to Judge the living and the dead for what each of us has done (I Thess. 5:2; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12)
This is then a call to us to turn away from our evil and wicked ways in order to be true to our Christian Calling. Let us not assume that God does not see or know what each of us is doing in the dark corner, unseen by anyone. Everything stands naked before God and there is no way we can hide; to this end, let us “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness knowledge; and to knowledge self control; and to self control perseverance and to perseverance godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness and love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffectual and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:5-9). In this way we will not be found wanting in the day of the Lord.
The Very Revd Adewale Adebiyi Ph.D