Zephaniah is the bearer of bad news. To Israel and Judah he declares the unrelenting wrath of God. God will utterly consume everything. (1:1) Those who seek to worship other gods, they will be wiped out. (1:4) Those who seek to worship the true God along with false idols, they too will be devastated. (1:5) To their number, add those who once sought the Lord and inquired of him but have turned away from following after him with their whole hearts. (1:6) God will punish those who are relationally complacent. (1:12) He has determined, he will make a speedy riddance of all who dwell in the land. (1:18)
The prophet then presents some hope; mercy may yet be found. Before the decree of judgment is executed, those who are meek may seek the Lord. There is the promise of being hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. (2:1-3) In addition, to those shown mercy and grace, “The Lord will be awesome to them, for he will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth, and people shall worship him, each one from his place; indeed, all the shores of the nations.” (2:11)
Zephaniah then turns again to express some more bad news. In order to encourage repentance, the full weight of God’s wrath must be proclaimed. He begins with “Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted.” (3:1) In God’s name, the preacher presents God’s determination to gather the nations, to assemble the kingdoms, and then to pour out on them his fierce anger and indignation. (3:8)
Zephaniah then ends with the proclamation of God’s undeserved grace. His sermon concludes with Gospel benefits:
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering. “On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:9-20)
Oh Christian, look at that which you have done. It is not pretty. It is vile and offensive to a holy God. You are a rank compromiser who deserves nothing but his wrath.
Look at what you deserve. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, you deserve the hell-fire of the Great Judge. You deserved this yesterday. You are on borrowed time. It is around the bend and before you. It is your deserved eternal inheritance.
Now, recall that which has been performed for you by the Beloved Son of God. He who was righteous was tormented on your behalf. He took all the Father’s blows in order that there might be none left for you. In addition, he worshiped with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and passed on to you his saintly record. He did this for you because he wanted to. He did this for you because the Father, Son, and Spirit covenanted in love over you. He did this for you perfectly; there are no gaps in his coverage. You who were hellish are now declared to be holy, and this is only due to the substitutionary work of the Beloved Son of God.
Next, consider that which is before you. Look again at Zephaniah 3:9-20. You will be gathered in the heavenly assembly with all the saints triumphant. You will be ridded of any who afflict you. You will be saved, healed, and appointed for praise and fame. You will call on the name of the Lord, and he will be oh so near. No more shall you do unrighteousness. No more shall you fear. You will be a meek people, a humble people; you will be God’s people.
So, how should you walk today? You shouldn’t! What do I mean? Instead of walking you should fall on your knees in worship, and then you should skip like a little school girl. After reverent confession and thanksgiving, you should engage in reverent singing, shouting, and rejoicing. The Lord has taken away your judgments. He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst. The Mighty One saves you. He rejoices over you with gladness. He quiets you with his love. He rejoices over you with singing. How can you not respond towards in him in like manner?
Oh, get off your sofa of depression and realize the compassion of God for you who believe. Look not around you at the chaos and fret over temporary woes; you have been saved from eternal woes. Look ahead. Look above. Look within. Look at the cross. Rejoice today, and get ready to have a fantastic Lord’s Day tomorrow.