The Day of the Lord―Zephaniah

Sermon 2017.03.12
The Day of the Lord―Zephaniah

Judgment. How does that word make you feel? What kind of thoughts and images pop into your head? (ask the audience)
Now, how about if I told you, “Judgment is upon you. The Day of the Lord is near.” How does that make you feel? What kind of thoughts and images pop into your head now? (ask the audience again)
では、もし私が ”あなたを裁きます”主の日が近づいている”と言ったらどうでしょう。

Well, please hold onto those thoughts for now as I introduce today’s message. We’re going to look at the book of Zephaniah today as we continue through our six-year journey through the entire Bible. We’re almost finished with the Old Testament, finishing up the last leg through the Minor Prophets.

Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah, who was actually one of the few good and faithful kings of the nation of Judah, long after the fall of the nation of Israel and before the fall of Judah itself, which puts us at a date of around 640-610BC. His name means, “God hides,” or “God protects,” which is very appropriate with his prophetic message:

Judgment, or the Day of the Lord, is coming! But God will be faithful to “hide” and “protect” his faithful people when the day of his anger and wrath arrives. And that is also the topic of our message today. The Day of the Lord, the day of judgment, but “those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Now, I’m not going to get into trying to explain prophecies and how they do or don’t apply to us today. But what I do believe with certainty is that “all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching and preaching,” as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16. And I do believe with certainty that even if the prophecy contained in Zephaniah were not intended at its given time for us today, we can still learn about God from it.
預言を説明したり又どのように今日の私達の学びに当てはまるのか当てはまらないのか今は説明しません。しかしティモテへの手紙第 二3:16で語られているように私は神の霊感によって書かれてた聖書は、何が真理であり、何が悪であるかをよく教えてくれる。と私は確信しています。
I. The Day of the Lord 主の日

First, let’s talk about this “Day of the Lord.” It is referred to many times throughout the Bible to indicate the time of God’s judgment on the people and on the earth.
The great day of the Lord is near―near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath―a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. (Zephaniah 1:14,15)

As you can understand, no one really likes to talk about the Day of the Lord. But it’s an important Biblical concept that we must take seriously and try to understand and learn from. God warns the world that judgment is coming, and it’s foolish for anybody to be unprepared. As Christians and as a church, we need to talk about and understand judgment, even if it’s not fun.

It’s like talking about punishment with our kids. As parents, of course, we love our kids and want our kids to know that we love them no matter what. But if our kids don’t take seriously and don’t understand the concept that bad behavior and wrong decisions result in punishment and negative consequences, they will grow up to be spoiled and irresponsible, and to their detriment.
I had a co-worker who was recently fired from my company, and I was not surprised. Having worked with him over the last couple years and seen his attitude toward his work and position, I couldn’t believe how unprofessional he was. He would show up late and without notifying our boss. And on top of that, he had the audacity to complain about how our boss was mean and unyielding when he was late.
Kids, don’t grow up to be like this guy. Know that your bad behavior and wrong decisions will result in punishment and negative consequences. And if you do make a mistake, simply own up to it. Take responsibility for your actions, and learn from the punishment and negative consequences so as to not repeat them unto yourself.

As parents, believe it or not, we don’t enjoy punishing you. What we are doing is giving you a taste of what the real world is like, so that you will be prepared when you go out on your own. As parents, our hope for you is that you will grow up to be responsible and caring members of society who will be successful in everything you do, thereby bringing glory to God through your faith being diligently lived out.

And not just to the kids, but to all of us as a church.
That’s what God is doing with us through his Word regarding judgment and the Day of the Lord. He’s not threatening us. He doesn’t enjoy scaring us. God is simply, bluntly, and honestly stating where things are going and how things are going to end. And the big question is, “Where will you hide on that great day?”

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)
II. Zephaniah ゼパニヤ

Do you all remember what his name means? (ask the audience)

Yes, Zephaniah means “God hides” or “God protects.” Will you be hidden under God’s protection when the Day of the Lord comes? Words like “hide” and “protect” sound like the Witness Protection Program, doesn’t it? Are you in God’s Witness Protection Program?
Now, I’m not saying this as some typical doomsday pronouncement to scare you into readiness. We all know that the Scriptures say that “no one knows the day or hour” of God’s coming judgment (Matthew 24:36). その日、その時がいつであるかは、だれも知りません。(マタイの福音書24:36)

I say this as a statement of fact, that we, if we are believers, are absolutely safe. Because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and bear his name, we are what Zephaniah refers to as “the remnant”, the faithful few who seek God and obey his commands.

God says this about “the remnant”: 神はこの“残り者”について言っておられます。

Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Cush, my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. (Zephaniah 3:9,10)

And God says this about the final verdict of “the remnant”: そして神はこの“残り者”の最後の裁きにつて言っておられます。

“At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:19,20)

If you have faith in Jesus Christ, you are safe! You’re safe from his wrath. You’re safe from his anger. You’re safe from his judgment on the Day of the Lord. And that’s only because Jesus Christ stands next to you as your and pleads your case as “not guilty”. Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace! Amen!

At the beginning of this message, we talked about judgment. I think you would agree with me that nothing but negative and scary thoughts were swirling around.

Well, I wanted us to have a correct, more well rounded view about judgment.

God’s judgment is not only about anger and punishment. God’s judgment is also about mercy and deliverance. And when the Day of the Lord is finally upon us, we can ultimately look forward to favor and blessing, because we stand on the side of salvation with Jesus Christ.

I stand before you today, and with Pastor Andrew, we stand before you every Sunday, to preach the Good News. That’s what we do. Every week, on this pulpit, as pastors and preachers, we teach you the Good News or some correlation to it. Spoiler alert! We teach the same thing every week, and it’s this:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is the Good News, and it’s the same message that comes to us from the book of Zephaniah.