Facing the Judgment Day
Zephaniah also speaks about the day of the Lord, which anticipates the day of judgment that falls upon a nation within history and the final judgment day. Zephaniah emphasizes the nearness of that day. “The day of the LORD is at hand” (1:7) and “The great day of the LORD is near” (v. 14). We do not know when the final judgment will come. But there is a judgment at death which will come to each of us within the relatively few years of our lives.
How can we be ready? Zephaniah tells us how not to be ready. “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are thickening upon their lees, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill’” (1:12). What is “thickening upon their lees”? In wine making, the lees was the solid matter at the bottom of the container. If the wine stayed in contact with it too long, it would have a bad taste. The Israelites tasted bad to God because they were complacent. They said that since God does not judge, it doesn’t matter how you live.
Zephaniah also tells us how to prepare. “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of the LORD” (2:3). How thankful we can be that the “perhaps” is turned to certainty through Christ. Trusting in him we can be sure we will be accepted by God.