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June 5, 2016
“The Day of the Lord”
Zephaniah 1:4-6, 14-16; 2:3
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. As always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
God is a God of second and more chances. But, sooner or later, the time will come to count up the cost for decisions and choices made, be it for good or bad. Judgment will not be held off forever. There will come a time of reckoning for those who refuse God and His ways. There will come a day when God will deal with all unrepentant sin.
Using this analogy before, I once wrote:
“One of my favorite stories to read to my children when they were younger was ‘The Gingerbread Man.’ My youngest would especially get a kick out of it because of the voices and actions I performed when reading it. She literally requested this book at almost every night’s reading before bedtime.
Many are familiar with the story of the little prideful and brash gingerbread man who jumped out of the oven too soon, running through the town and fields attempting to get away from those who sought to eat him up. In his running he would mockingly sing and taunt, “Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me! I’m the gingerbread man!” exasperating those in pursuit (resource information: Wikipedia). With that, he proceeded to dodge and avoid all who tried to capture him.
He was confident in his abilities. He was witty, though it seemed, until one moment changed everything for him forever. That moment was when he put his confidence in the wrong thing: the fox. Posing as someone to help him across the water, when the fox got him to the place of no return, he swallowed him whole thereby ending the running of the Gingerbread Man for good. His taunting song to be heard no more for now he reaped the fruit of his doings.
A good lesson we can take away from this childhood favorite is that one can run and think they are avoiding the consequences of their actions, but eventually the jaws of justice will clamp down on them bringing them to the point of utter destruction (No Rest for the Wicked/Word For Life Says).
And, this is where the lesson is leading us to study today. Under the prophet Zephaniah, God was sounding out a warning once again for His people to turn from their wicked ways before the day of reckoning comes; before they are at the point of no return and they feel the judgment of their actions come crashing down on their heads.
Zephaniah, who is a descendant of King Hezekiah (Zeph. 1:1), was God’s mouthpiece telling them of the impending danger up ahead.
Zephaniah 1:4-6 “I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.”
Reading from the beginning of Zephaniah’s self-named book, we see that his particular point of prophesying was during the “days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah,” (Zeph. 1:1). Josiah, who became king at the tender age of 8, made great reformations for God’s people in turning them back to true worship (2 Chr. 34-35). Unfortunately, these reforms didn’t penetrate the hearts of the people enough to last past his time of his death leading to the prediction and follow through of the nation’s demise (2 Chr. 36).
But, before we get to the end of the story we have to deal with its beginning and in the beginning of this chapter God said, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD,” (Zeph. 1:2-3).
This kind of prophesy often brings with it two sides: a current prediction to deal with the situation at hand for the nation and an upcoming final prediction usually related to the end times. Though Zephaniah prophesied of what God was about to do right now with His people due to their present sin circumstance, it is wise for all mankind to heed the warnings that could easily be applied to that coming great day. There will come a day when it will all be over and the King of kings will come in all His glory to render judgment and no one will be exempt from His just proceedings.
Not even those who considered themselves as His separated people and nation. “I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” the word of the LORD spoke. Being a people of God does not exonerate one from the consequences of sin. Any kingdom or people (even if they are God’s chosen) living an errant lifestyle are subject to succumb to the same wrath of God as anyone else.
God has every right to prophesy such to His people. God had already done everything possible to secure a relationship with His people. Look back through history and review their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. It was with a mighty hand and a mighty plan that they crossed the Red Sea to the other side on dry land. Shortly after the people indulged in idol worship then and such have they been in their continuing relationship with God.
In His righteousness God must judge all sin and transgression. All consequences of their corrupt lifestyle will come back on their own heads. God will not overlook or brush under a rug atrocities committed. Devastation was on the horizon!
“I will cut off.” Those things and people that are not like God and of His true worship, God will put an end to. He said, “I will . . .” The Bible explicitly tells us, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” (Rom. 12:19). This is not just a reference in regard to dealing with enemies. This is for all who choose to walk in the path of disobedience and defile God’s commands.
Even to His own people, who have chosen to bow down and worship idols, God will have the final say. The impact of their actions will be fully realized in that coming day. If they didn’t heed the prophet’s warning and their hearts were insistent on following the path of wickedness then a gloomy picture of doom would be their future.
God opposes “them.” The word “them” is used three times and the word “those” is used once to show there are some who refuse to live and worship a life of total allegiance to Him; as a covenant people set apart. Rather, they have gone after “Baal” and “Chemarims” and worshipped the “host of heaven” and “swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham.” They have chosen to live in opposition of God.
Following after and serving false gods or trying to mix the worship of God with the worship of others will bring a person and a nation to its demise. Idol worship will not only rob you of a genuine relationship with God, but it will lead you on a downward spiral toward the gate of hell (read Hosea 8). God made it clear in Exodus, “Thou shalt have no others gods before me,” (20:3). God will not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8). He is a jealous God and wants His people all to Himself (Ex. 20:5, 34:14).
God’s goal in sending Zephaniah is to warn the people once again that the path they are choosing will lead to destruction. If they continue to revel in sin God will require a time of retribution. God will repay every wrong of the unrepentant. Weight for weight and measure for measure sin will receive its just desserts. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” (Gal. 6:7).
We have to compare and examine our lives that we don’t fall on the side of God’s wrath and judgment such as these to whom this prophesy was going out.
Then, he speaks against “them that are turned back from the LORD; those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.” Previously I wrote:
“Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to look after their own pursuits.” (Return to Me/Word For Life Says).
It’s those ungodly pursuits that keep mankind on the path of wickedness and from the very best that God has in store for them. Going after such categorizes them under this impending judgment that is to come because they refuse to seek God and have “turned back from the LORD.”
Going our own way isn’t worth it. The Bible admonishes us to, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isa. 55:6). One’s reliance on their own intellect and skill often leads to the wider path marked with sin and rebellion (see again, Mt. 7:13-14) but God says look to Me while I am near before devastation overtakes you (more on this in Zephaniah 2:3).
Zephaniah 1:14-16 “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.”
Not only is the day coming, but it’s coming quickly! Despite the warnings, it will happen when you least expect it! Get ready was his warning!
Today, we are encouraged when traveling in any moving vehicle to wear seat belts. Why? Simply put, an accident can come out of nowhere and happen at any time. When it does there is no time to search for the seatbelt to strap yourself in against the impending collision. No time to prepare. When you get hit, you get hit whether you’re ready or not.
The prophet is warning “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly,” (see also Isaiah 13:6, Ezekiel 30:3, and Joel 1:15) so now is the time to change your life. When that day comes there will be no more time. Ready or not, here He comes!
The urgency is real! Judgement is coming! For the people whom Zephaniah was directly prophesying the Babylonian invasion would come as God’s righteousness punishment on this stiff-necked, wayward people who refuse to heed His word. But, for mankind as a whole, Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day,” (John 12:48). The warnings have gone out. There will be a final judgment for all (see Revelation 20:12-15). Hear and heed the Word of God before it’s too late.
For the people, the day of their prosperity will come to an end and they will now know a time of desperation. Wrath in the form of trouble and distress, darkness and desolation will overshadow the people like heavy storm clouds (compare Zephaniah 1:15 with Amos 5:18, 20).
They have trusted in false deities but the one and only true God will have the final say. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Hebrews 10:10) we read. But, His day is coming. “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand,” (Joel 2:1).
“A day of trumpet and alarm” has been blown. The ram’s horns are raised and blasting its warning siren. The Bible tells us that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9). From the beginning of time all the way to the prophesied end, God is trying to get people to heaven and spare them from impending doom! He gives man chance after chance to change their course.
Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.”
This is what is advised to prepare against that coming day of judgment: “Seek ye the LORD!” “Seek” speaks of diligent activity. It is purposely going after the things of God and what pleases Him. It is humbly coming to Him with a true heart of repentance.
God is seen here as extending another chance, a measure of mercy, before His final judgment. Reading in Zephaniah 2:2 we see the word “before” four times. God is pleading through the prophet for the people to gather themselves and turn from their evil ways “before” these things come to pass: “Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger come upon you,” (emphasis mine).
God is in the serious saving business, but His judgment will not hold off forever. Don’t let the world and all its offerings, false gods and false ways, give you a false sense of security. Jesus once wisely said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The only place of true safety and security is found in the will of God. Staying in and holding on to His will; His law; “His judgement,” is our best and only defense against the horrors of that coming day. God will keep those who cleave unto Him; who hold fast to His Word. Corrie ten Boom is quoted as saying, “There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!” (Quote Source: Goodreads).
Those who love God are encouraged to hold on through the press and hard times; continue to stand for Him and His ways; to “seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.” God’s word tells us, “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor,” Proverbs 21:21, NKJV. Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,” (Matthew 5:6) and “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:33).
The things of the world will never satisfy, nor will they lead you in the right path for that coming day. We are to continue in our sincere yearning for Him and what is right according to Him.
There will come a time that God will deal with all unrepentant sin. There will come an end time that everyone will have to answer for. What will that day hold for us? The day of the Lord will come! There is no getting around it. Will we face judgment or be rewarded for a life well lived? Don’t let it be said, too late. You have this moment right now, but tomorrow IS NOT promised.
(Click here for PDF: The Day of the Lord Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Please note: If you have followed me for a while you will notice this Draw the Scene and Clock Craft below are from previous lessons. They are perfect companions to this lesson as well and have been reworked to include verses and titles to match our current lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: The Day of the Lord Draw the Scene (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Another option, instead of the printables in the clock craft below, students can just cut this one out and glue to paper plate or construction paper. Enjoy!
The Day of the Lord Clock Craft: The Day of the Lord Clock Craft (Use this PDF for accurate printing) In keeping with theme from Draw the Scene, students can easily assemble and decorate one of these clocks out of paper plates as a gentle reminder of today’s lesson. Cardstock works best. Enjoy!
Memory Verse (A good exercise with memory verses are have students keep a memory verse journal. Just print out and staple or glue into any notebook of your choice. They have all their memory verses in one area for easy reference): The Day of the Lord Memory Verse (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)
Below are Activities/Resources/Links to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Prophets” (Old Testament prophets in review for reading age children to understand. Enjoy!)
“The Bible” (A 5-series lesson that share the importance of God’s Word. Jesus used the Word as a weapon and it’s just as important for our students to learn it. Here you will find object talks, lesson ideas and activities. Enjoy!)
“Bible Verse Balloon Batting” (A great memory verse game. Enjoy!)