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The book of Zephaniah begins with a prophetic warning of judgment against sin. The "great day of the Lord" (verse 1:14) will be a terrifying day of judgment for the whole earth.
"I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the LORD. "I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth," declares the LORD. (Zephaniah 1:2-3)
Even Judah will not escape, because of her sin. Jerusalem itself will be destroyed (3:7). Will there be any hope for survival?
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)
Yes, in all this horror and well deserved judgment, there is a hope! The same God who must judge sin will also bring repentance to some! Some will "seek the LORD"; they will "seek righteousness, seek humility." Some will be "sheltered on the day of the LORD'S anger"!
The day of restoration will come. And though the day of judgment must come first, the day of righteousness and rejoicing is "just around the corner."
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:16-17)
In this passage, we see that the "mighty God" is the "mighty-to-save God"!
Many prophets make reference to this day of vengeance and redemption.
Isaiah makes mention of the One who is "mighty-to-save" (a
different Hebrew word for "mighty," perhaps indicating the
greatness of his ability to do so):
- Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?
- "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
- Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
- "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." (Isaiah 63:1-6)
The apostle John speaks of this same day, and even alludes to this Isaiah passage several times, in the book of Revelation. One such example is:
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [kingly crowns]; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:11-16)
Yet we do not have to fear this approaching day. If we humble ourselves and submit ourselves to the God who is "mighty-to-save," accepting him for who he is, we, too, will be among those to whom it can be said, "he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away."
He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true."
He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son. But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:2-8)
What is your reaction to all this? Do you know the "mighty-to-save" God? Does he know you? (Obviously, God knows everything. But there is a special sense in which the word "know" is reserved for those who have a special relationship with him - John 17:3; Galatians 4:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Titus 1:16; 1 John 4:8.) Being merely "religious" will not do, for Jesus warns us:
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.' (Matthew 7:21-23)
You will meet this mighty God someday. The way you respond to him now will determine the relationship you have with him then.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; ... (Isaiah 55:6)
If you wait until that future day arrives, it will be too late.
What does this passage tell us about "the mighty God"?
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Dennis Hinks © 1993, 2004
Scripture quoted from ... ESV (Isaiah 63:1-6); NIV (Zephaniah 1:2-3; 2:3; 3:16-17); NRS (Isaiah 55:6; Revelation 19:11-16);
WEB (Matthew 7:21-23; Revelation 21:2-8). Words in some verses have been put in italics for emphasis; words in brackets are added.
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