The Day of the Lord (Zephaniah)

The Day of the Lord (Zephaniah)

Scripture: Zephaniah 2:11, Zephaniah 1:14-18
Date: 06/01/2013  Lesson: 9
"Judgment is coming, but grace and mercy are still available for those who earnestly seek for it."

Is the Devil in Charge of Hell? by Bill May

Is the Devil in Charge of Hell? by Bill May
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church right here in Sacramento, California. Wherever you are joining us from across the country and around the world, a very big welcome. Some of you are listening on the radio, some live on our website at 'saccentral.org' and some on the various television networks. So however you are joining us, welcome. And we are so excited that we get to sing your favorite songs like we do every week.

If this is your first time tuning in, you get to sing with us and we get to sing songs from requests that have come in from our viewers all over the place and, of course, that's what we're going to do right now. #468 Is our first request and I will tell you, we have definitely some songs that are really, really popular - 'amazing grace' being one of them - but 'a child of the King', I think, is right up there with #2 and we had probably - I'm going to say at least 60 requests for this song - so clearly I'm not going to be reading all of those names. So I just randomly picked some. Alexi and martina in argentina, aaron, gloria, irene, lynton, reanna, and richard in australia, dieuwke in belgium, hezron and renata in brazil, luis in costa rica, betina in denmark, erisnely in the dominican republic, audrey, Georgia, hyacinth, kaylia, sherace, and paige in england, David and guerrier in France, dinagar and ramay in india, diana in nicaragua, johan in norway, ernesto in panama, perla in saudi arabia, francis in sri lanka, and John and Peter in vanuatu. So those are just a few.

Thank you to everyone else that sent in your favorite song - you know who you are - and we're going to sing the first, third, and fourth stanzas. #468 - 'A child of the King'. It doesn't matter what you live in on this earth or your circumstances, because if you keep in your mind that you are a child of the King, you have something to look forward to. Something - you are a child of the King of the universe. It is an exciting thought.

Our next song is #57 as we are working our way through the hymnal, singing The Songs that we don't know. We're getting messages coming in from those of you who are singing along with us every week and you actually are enjoying this with us so we're not here on our own singing songs that we don't know. So we're all learning these together and I think it's exciting because, for several years, I have looked through the hymnal and I have seen this song - 'now all the woods are sleeping' - and I thought to myself, 'I wonder what that song sounds like.' But I don't know it so we learned it this week and we're all going to learn it together right now. You'll notice we're almost done with 'evening worship'. Next week is the last song and then we're going to be singing more happy songs of the opening of worship.

So we're - we're getting along here. # 57 - This is a request from immanuel in malaysia and I will give you a little history on this song so you can think about it while you sing. The man that wrote this had a very interesting - actually, I should say very sad life. He was born in the 1600s and he had five children - six children and five of them - four of his five children died in infancy and his wife died following a long illness after only 13 years of marriage. And he was a prolific songwriter and this is a very popular song in germany where he was from.

And he wrote this with, originally, nine stanzas and it would probably take 20 minutes to sing all nine stanzas, but the adventist hymnal put in three so that's what we're going to do this morning - we're going to sing all three stanzas of #57 - 'now all the woods are sleeping'. If you have a favorite song that you want to sing with us on an upcoming program, it's very simple. You just go to our website at 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite hymn request and we will sing that for you on an upcoming program. At this time, though, let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in heaven, thank you so much that we are a child of the King.

You are the King of the universe. You love us and you even know how many hairs are on our heads. You know if a sparrow falls from the tree and if you know that, you definitely love us and know what we're doing. Father please come and live in our hearts as we open up your word and we study together right now. Be with our speaker.

Be with our extended Sabbath school family around the world. Some are struggling, some are rejoicing, some are in pain. But father, I just pray that you will be with each one. You know individual needs. You know us here at Sacramento central and I pray that we will each be ready for that day when you come in the clouds.

In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor. He is our senior pastor here at Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church. Thank you debbie and our singers. Appreciate it - musicians.

The Bible says, 'sing a new song unto the Lord' and I found whenever you sing a new song the first time you sing a new song it takes a while to catch and then you hear it a couple more times and you say, 'oh yeah, I like that song now.' When you sing some of those old songs in the hymnal, it almost transports you to another time when they were using those words. You know, our vocabulary's changed. Well, welcome friends. We're glad that you're joining us for Sabbath school at central church and we're going to be continuing in just a moment with our study from the big lessons from the - 'major lessons', I should say, 'from the minor prophets'. And, as always, we have a special offer.

Our lesson today is primarily from the book of Zephaniah where it talks a lot about the day of the Lord and judgment coming and we have a book talking about the great judgment day and it's called, 'pending: your case in court'. The Bible has a lot to say about the judgment. If you'd like a free copy of this then you just call the number on the screen. Ask for offer #192 and that number is 866-study-more - -788-3966. I have to remember that some of the people are hearing this program.

They're not watching it on tv, but some capture the audio and they broadcast it for free - different parts of the country - on radio and so I have to say the phone number. One more time, ask for offer #192 and the phone number is 866-study-more, that's 866-788-3966. Today we're on lesson #9 in the book of Zephaniah and not only really Zephaniah, but we're also, you know, we're talking about the minor prophets. Some of these lessons you take two lessons for one minor prophet and some of the minor prophets are small and so you're taking two prophets for one lesson and today's a case of that. And so I hope I can also get to the book of Nahum.

And so we're doing Zephaniah, primarily, and then the last day we're going to try and cover the book of Nahum. There's both - both books have three chapters, but the chapters are longer in Zephaniah. And we have a memory verse. Memory verse is from Zephaniah chapter 2, verse 11 and it's the new king James version if you have that. I always appreciate if you can say it along with me.

Are you ready? Zephaniah chapter 2, verse 11. "the Lord will be awesome to them, for he will reduce to nothing all the Gods of the earth; people shall worship him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations. Now Zephaniah is a very important prophet. If you were to put the book of Zephaniah chronologically where it would go, he would fall between Isaiah and Jeremiah. Zephaniah was the prophet who really prophesied just before the Babylonian captivity and he dealt with what had happened because of the evil reign of king manasseh.

If you - you look in your Bibles, you can see that even though manasseh repented and God forgave him, the Bible tells us that he kind of went a little too far. Look in 2 Kings - you got your Bibles there? Just to get the background. Kings chapter 24, verse 3 and this is after the book tells us that Babylonia - the King of Babylon was coming to destroy Jerusalem because of their sins. It says, "surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon judah," - when Nebuchadnezzar came to destroy the city - "to remove them from his sight because of the sins of manasseh," - now, when Nebuchadnezzar comes, manasseh was long gone. You had had manasseh, and then after you had manasseh you had ammon, you had josiah, and there were three different sons of josiah and then Nebuchadnezzar came.

But it's like God said, 'I haven't forgotten the sins of manasseh because he was king for years. He offered his children in the fire. He set up pagan Gods in the temple. I mean, he just filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, killed Isaiah the prophet - manasseh did a lot of wicked things. And even though he repented - God said, 'I'll forgive you but you have shed so much innocent blood that there is a sword hanging above the city and judgment is going to come.

Sometimes God's patient and judgment will come years after the actual offense and so this was a case of that. And oh, by the way, I didn't finish reading that verse. "Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon judah, to remove them from his sight because of the sins of manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon." Now how often do you find that in the Bible? Not too often where it says, 'God will not pardon.' There is certain cause and effect and there was a judgment that was coming on the nation. Now, this is why the book of Zephaniah is very important, because the first two chapters of Zephaniah talk about the day of the Lord and the judgment is pronounced on the various cities - primarily Jerusalem. The last chapter talks about God's promise and protection and it's very relevant for us because - do we know a day of the Lord is coming? Even if we all repent as a church, is the day of the Lord coming? So we want to know 'how do we survive that day?' And that's what happened to Jerusalem with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction that came and being carried off to Babylon.

The history of Israel is going to be repeated. Not only is it repeated from the time of Zephaniah with the destruction of Jerusalem, Jerusalem was destroyed again during the time - or following the time of Christ in ad 70 and Jesus said - Jesus is similar to Zephaniah in that he made a parallel between the destruction of Jerusalem and what would happen at the end of the world. When Jesus described the end of the world in Matthew 24, he was talking about the end of the world coming for the nation of Israel and what was happening to them, and that was going to be an echo or a parallel or a shadow of what would happen to the world at the end of time. Zephaniah was saying the same thing. He was saying the destruction that was going to come on Jerusalem was sort of a harbinger of what was going to happen on the whole world and so there's some parallels here as well.

And that's why his name is important. Now it's in your lesson - what does the name Zephaniah mean? Someone look up for me psalm :5. I gave that to somebody or our attendants - who had that one? Did our Scriptures go out? Psalm 27:5 - if you've got that, hold your hand up. Okay. And we'll get ready for that.

Now I'm going back to my question, 'what does the name Zephaniah mean?' Zephaniah means 'hidden by' - you heard of a zephyr? 'Hidden by yah' - jehovah. Zephaniah - 'hidden by yahweh' or jehovah. This is important because there's a judgment coming but we can be hidden in the day of God's wrath. You remember when the Lord said to Moses - he said, 'no man can see my face and live but I will let you see me - I'll let you see my hind parts. I'm going to put you in the cleft of the rock and then I'll cover you with my hand so you are hidden.

' How many of you remember singing that song, 'hiding in thee' - 'hiding in thee'? Alright, go ahead. Read this - read that verse for us. "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret place of his tabernacle he shall hide me; he shall set me high upon a rock." Alright, so this is the central message in the book of Zephaniah is there is an impending judgment - the day of the Lord is coming. Good news is if we humble ourselves, if we submit to God, when that time comes we can survive it. Have you read psalm 91? A thousand may fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand, but only with your eyes will you see and behold the destruction of the wicked.

No plague will come nigh your dwelling.' And so things could be just imploding all around you, like when the walls of Jericho fell and somehow rahab survived and that's what it's going to be like in the last days. We want to be hiding in the Lord at that time and so Zephaniah is talking about that. Frightening judgment at the beginning but promise in the last chapter there. Matter of fact, you know what I'd like to do? Last night I just read through - and I've done it many times before but I just wanted to read through it again - the book of Zephaniah and I also read through the book of Nahum and - why don't you turn to the book of Zephaniah with me and let's read a few verses and talk about it. I like this kind of just verse-by-verse Bible study.

"The word of the Lord" - I'm in verse 1 of Zephaniah - "the word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah The Son of cushi, the son of gedaliah, The Son of amariah, The Son of hezekiah," - I'll tell you one thing right there, he has the longest genealogy of any Bible prophet. It gives more genealogy of him. And one reason they believe that is manasseh reigned longer and it's just telling you that he can track all the way back to the time of hezekiah, who was a good king and The Father of manasseh - isn't that right? You remember when king hezekiah got sick and he was going to die? And he prayed and God heard his prayer and he healed him and he said, 'I'm giving you 15 more years.' Actually, you could say hezekiah was still terminal but the doctor said you're going to last years. And during that 15 years you kind of wonder whether he should have lived because he had a boy - because the Bible says manasseh was 12 years old when he began to reign, which means three years into - or two and a half years into hezekiah's last years he had The Son that would follow him. And he didn't turn out to be a very good king.

And so he's tracking all the way back to the good time of hezekiah and Zephaniah is also prophesying during the time of a good king or a bad king? What's it say here? Josiah. Good king? Bad king? Good king. He's tracking from hezekiah - good king - to the last good king of judah. Matter of fact, josiah was among the very best of the Kings, right up there with David. Good king.

Godly king. But even during the times of a good king, the people might go through a counterfeit revival and he talks about that. He says, 'you're praying to the lord but you're also going up on your roof at night and praying to the moon and the sun and the stars.' He says, 'there's hypocrisy.' And so even during the time of a good king it didn't always guarantee that he could turn everybody's hearts around. "Hezekiah, in the days of josiah, The Son of ammon, king of judah. 'I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,' says the Lord, 'I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea,'" - now wait a second, is he talking about when Nebuchadnezzar is about to come and destroy Judea or is he going beyond that? When all the fish of the sea are gone - yeah, he's talking about the ultimate day of the Lord here, isn't he? "I will consume all things" - where does it say all things are consumed? Peter chapter 3, verse 10, "but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

" Malachi chapter 4, 'behold the day comes that will burn as an oven and all the proud and all that do wickedly will be stubble. The day that comes will burn them up.' Is there fire coming when the lord comes? Some of you - any of you my friends on Facebook? I wrote a - you're not my friends on Facebook? Well, you're all excommunicated. Now what are you going to do? We're going to have a business meeting. But I posted something on Facebook and I put out a scenario - I did a little survey and I said, 'alright, you're at work and you hear over the radio that a fire's coming - now we've entered fire season here now in California, which is always a little unnerving, and a fire is coming and it's heading towards your suburban neighborhood that's on the outskirts of town and you get permission, you leave work, you race home, and before you get to your neighborhood you run into a blockade of emergency vehicles and you talk to one of the policemen and he said, 'look, alright if you live here the fire's going to be in this neighborhood in a half hour - minutes. You have 20 minutes to go to your house and get whatever you want, but you've got to get out in 20 minutes - that's it.

' So you pull up to your house and you can see the sky is black with clouds and you can hear the wail of the sirens everywhere around and all your other neighbors are scurrying in and out of their houses and everything's frantic and you've got to think what do I get out of my house in 20 minutes? Your whole life's in the house, what do you get? Well, I'm happy to say that some of you said family first because I never did say whether you had any family - but I'm glad you thought about that because I would hope that you wouldn't pull out of your neighborhood and then think, 'how come the car seat's empty?' That'd be pretty sad. So let's assume you get your family. Then what do you get? I was surprised how many people said their Bibles. You know, I did this survey and we had like, I don't know, 400 people responded and a lot of them said, 'my Bible.' And I'll be honest with you, I didn't think that. And it's not because I don't love my Bible, it's because I've got a lot of Bibles and most of my Bible study information is on my hard drive.

And this is a precious Bible. I've had this since I came - 20 years now at central church I've used this Bible, but I just went to the Philippines and used a different Bible. It was a little awkward because it's hard to find your way around - and I've got a lot of precious notes in here that are very important, but a lot of them are on my computer. So I thought hard drive - I'd be in trouble if I didn't have - boy, I've got a lot of studies and material - years of work - on the hard drive. And others said important documents.

Some people said musical instruments. A lot of people - you know what was #2 on the list? Pets. Pets. Yeah, Americans spend more on dog food than a lot of nations spend on their people - and their cat food. And so - oh, you know, some people said clothes and other people said, you know, valuable paintings.

Basically, it was those things that are irreplaceable, right? You get the things - I mean, who's going to say, 'I got my laundry detergent?' You just get more, you know. You go to the store - you don't need those things, you can just buy more, right? You're not going to haul your bed out of the house or things like that. You're going to get the stuff that's precious and irreplaceable. Well, the whole moral of the story is, 'is there a fire coming?' You know, there's a picture of a fire that was approaching the san diego neighborhood where you can see this terrible brush fire and you remember all those homes burned down in san diego? I forget how many, but it was one of the worst fires as far as the loss of homes. And then there was the one in san francisco - marin county - in oakland.

That fire swept through and took out a hillside of homes and it does happen. And it's going to happen to everybody. The day is going to come that will burn as an oven. So what can you escape with? What can we take out of this world? What do you get to keep? There are just two things: your character and other people that are influenced by your life to come to Jesus. That's your treasure in heaven.

Nothing else. You can't take your paintings, you can't take your hard drive. This is the only hard drive you can take. That's right. It's characters and so that day is coming.

And so Zephaniah is really talking about getting their priorities straight.' I'll consume all things from the land, man and beast, birds of the heavens, fish of the sea.' Now, you notice, he's talking about creation in reverse. Have you read the days of creation? He made the birds, he made the fish, he made the man - and here he's talking about undoing creation. You see that? "'I will cut off man from the face of the land,' says the Lord. 'I will stretch out my hand against judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.'" - The capital of judah. This is the southern kingdom.

Now, when he's prophesying, what had happened to the northern kingdom? They were carried off - the ten tribes had been carried off by the assyrians and the assyrians - their capital was what city? Nineveh. And so when you get to the end of Zephaniah and when you get to the prophecies of Nahum he's talking about the judgments on assyria - the ones who carried away the other tribes - their brethren, so to speak. "'I will stretch out my hand against judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of baal from this place,'" - most of baal had been eliminated, but not every trace. Most of baal had been eliminated during the time of king jehu, but not completely.

- "'The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests - those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by milcom;'' - now notice, it talks about them - they're worshiping the stars and the sun and moon on their housetops. They're also vowing by the Lord - the word 'lord' there is talking about our lord - but then it goes on, it says, "'who also swear by milcom;'" - milcom was the God of the ammonites. By the way, you remember when Solomon married one of the daughters of ammon? She talked him into, 'I miss my God from my home.' And he brought an idol of milcom into the temple and so he introduced - Solomon in his old age, when his scruples lowered because of his strange wives - introduced the worship of milcom and it never completely left because here you are, hundreds of years later and they're still doing it. "'And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of him.' Be silent in the presence of the lord God; for the day of the lord is at hand, for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; he has invited his guests. 'And it shall be, in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king's children,'" - who are the guests at the Lord's sacrifice? Have you read about the feast in Revelation of the birds? I know that sounds pretty ominous, but it talks about the animals of carrion that come to the feast of the Lord.

So when God talks about, 'I've prepared a sacrifice and there's great judgment coming on the land.' Well, they used to have a sacrifice for the people and were eating the animals. This is a sacrifice where the animals are eating the people. It's a terrible judgment. And when Nebuchadnezzar got done with Jerusalem - have you read where it talks about 'the slain of the Lord in that day will be from one end of the earth to the other and there will be no one to mourn or to bury or lament for them'? That's talking about what happened around Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar and it's talking about the condition of the world in the last days. It was a parallel for that where there will be nobody to mourn.

So this is a pretty fierce prophecy of judgment. You probably want me to skip this and just go to talking about heaven and things like that, but before you get to heaven there's a time of judgment coming and it's in the prophecies, friends. "'And it will be says the Lord, 'I'll punish the princes and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.'" - Those that had the designer clothes from other countries - "'in the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold, who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.'" You remember in the story of - what was it? Samuel, yes - when they captured the ark of God and it talked about how the God dagon fell down and his hands and his head broke off. Interesting, Mark in the head and in the hands. The hands and the head of dagon fell down - they broke off there by the threshold of dagon in the temple of dagon and from that day on the priests never stepped on the threshold when they entered the temple.

It became a custom then to leap over the threshold when you went to worship dagon. Now you'll notice in Zephaniah it talks about judgment against the philistines and the cities of the philistines. They were worshiping the God of the philistines. That's when it talks about leaping over the threshold and - you know, even in Christian churches sometimes you find they mix up good - you ever see a Christian throwing a pinch of salt over their shoulder when they knock over the salt? Or stepping out of the way when they see a black cat and you wonder, 'what's wrong with them?' We've got these pagan superstitions. We don't want to have a church function on Friday the 13th.

It's paganism. We don't need to worry about that stuff, right? "They leap over the threshold, who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. 'And'" - you know, it talks about the judgment coming on the princes? They couldn't hire the best attorneys to get them out of this one. Sometimes it seems the rich escape because they are able to pay their way out. God says, 'this judgment is going to be indiscriminate.

' By the way, it went all the way from the King, zedekiah, all the way down to the poorest of the people. Matter of fact, the poorest of the people did better when this judgment came. Nebuchadnezzar left many of the poorest and the uneducated of the land - he took the educated with him in his first attack - that's when Daniel went back to Babylon. He came back the second time, he left some of the poorest and the illiterate in the land to make sure someone was there to take care of the vineyards and the olive groves and stuff - to just keep the wild beasts out. The poor were spared.

It was Jesus who said, 'it's the poor and the meek who are going to survive in the last days. "And there shall be" - verse 10 - "and there shall be on that day" - I'm still in Zephaniah chapter 1, verse 10 - "says the Lord, 'the sound of a mournful cry from the fish gate, a wailing from the second quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills.'" He's saying, 'in the best part of the city, in the poor part of the city, and in the suburbs' - "'wail you inhabitants of maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down'" - the economic or the business people - "'all those who handle money are cut off. And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, 'the Lord will not do good, nor will he do evil.''" - 'All things continue as they were from the beginning. We have nothing to worry about, God's not going to do anything' - "'therefore their goods shall become booty,'" they'll be carried off by the enemy - "'and their houses a desolation; they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.'" - Deuteronomy 28, verse 29, "and you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you." You know, all these blessings were promised if they followed God. He said, 'you'll be blessed when you go out, you'll be blessed when you come in.

You'll be blessed in the field, you'll be blessed in the city. You'll be blessed in your house, you'll be blessed in your womb. You'll be - everything'll be blessed but, if you turn from me and you refuse to obey, these curses will catch up with you. And so now Zephaniah is saying, 'the curse has caught up with the ten tribes in the north, now these curses are going to catch up with Jerusalem and Judea.' And he begins to quote from Moses. You see what he's doing here? Exactly what Moses said would happen.

And we just read - Moses talked about darkness. You can look in Zephaniah 1:14, "the great day of the Lord is near;" - tell you what, someone look up for me - just get you ready - Amos 5:18. Who's got that? We gave - yeah, I think we gave that out to someone. Amos - you got it over here? Hold your hand up so we can get you a microphone. Amos 5:18 and let me read Zephaniah 1:14, "the great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly.

The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation," - have you heard about the abomination of what? Desolation. "A day of darkness and gloominess" - Moses just talked about you'd be groping like in the dark. What was one of the plagues that came on the Egyptians because of their sin? Darkness. Alright, go ahead, read for us Amos 5;18.

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light." You know, we're in - we're living in a time right now when there is more artificial light than any other time in history. You know when thomas edison finally invented - well, he didn't totally invent the light bulb, but he invented the vacuum bulb with the carbon element that made it burn a long time and made it possible for people - people used to go to bed with the chickens. And with artificial light, you know, and then they'd burn whale oil, which was really expensive, and candles and it was dangerous and they had a lot of fires back then. The light bulb changed everything. People were able to stay up and it kind of created artificial light.

We have more artificial light - here it is daytime and we've got artificial light. That was unheard of a hundred years ago. Why would you have light on during the day? They just had big windows. But we're used to it. We have more artificial light and we have more darkness, spiritually, now.

People somehow think that if you've got artificial light it compensates and you don't need spiritual light. The time of the greatest spiritual darkness. Joel - another minor prophet. We've already had a lesson on Joel, but let me just review this: Joel 2, verse 1, "blow 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 is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess," - that's what we just read in Amos - "a day of clouds and thick darkness." 'Darkness covers the land and gross darkness the people' and this is one of the signs. I - let me see here, 2 Peter 2 - just going to talk about darkness for a second - 2 Peter chapter 2, verse 17, speaking of the lost it says, "these are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

" Jude 1:13 - Jude is quoting Peter - "raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for who is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." And where are the fallen angels kept? Everlasting chains of darkness. And so darkness - you know Jesus said we're the light of the world. It's the opposite of spiritual light. You know, I - I think I shared this with you before - that the longest burning bulb in the world is in California hanging in a firehouse in livermore and it's still there today as far as I know. From a single electrical wire is a light bulb.

It's supplied by 120 volts. It only puts out four watts of kind of amber light and it was burning when the wright brothers made their historic flight in 1903. This light bulb has continued to consistently burn through world war i, the crash of the stock Market in 1929, it's burned all the way through world war ii, and it's still hanging in the livermore firehouse, burning today. It was made, originally, by the shelby electric company in Ohio. It had a legendary reputation for making long-lasting bulbs but they eventually went out of business because they just weren't very bright.

But boy did their bulbs last! Isn't that something? It's been declared by the guinness book of world records as the oldest known working light bulb in the world. But God's got a light that's never supposed to - you know they kept a light burning in the temple how often? They were never supposed to let that - one of the jobs of the priest was - you know, we sort of - we mock - I shouldn't say 'mock' - we imitate that by having eternal flames at various cemeteries. They're usually gas supplied and we call it the eternal flame. The whole idea of an eternal flame dates back originally to the temple of God where they were to continually keep the oil in those lamps and never let it go out and from - it's believed that from the time of Solomon, when the glory of the Lord filled that temple, until the time of Nebuchadnezzar they had never let that lamp go out. For about 300 years that light kept burning.

This little light of mine. You know, the danger with darkness is you can get used to it. You can get adjusted to the dark. In fact, you ever been asleep in a dark room and someone comes in and turns on the light and it hurts? You can get so used to the dark that when someone finally does turn on a light it's painful. TRuth can be painful when it's first revealed to you.

And one of two things happen when people learn truth. They either adjust to the light and start to walk in the light or they turn away and go back to darkness. When you turn on a light cockroaches will run, moths will come. And that's how it will be when Jesus comes. Those that love the Lord are going to turn towards him and the lost, like cockroaches, are going to scurry and call for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face.

Alexander pope wrote a poem years ago - he's no relation to the pope that I know of - "vice is a monster of so frightful mien, as to be hated needs but to be seen; yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace." Vice - first endured, then pitied, then embraced. Could I suggest to you that the things that used to make Christians blush 50 years ago don't make us blush anymore. The darkness of the world that used to - people would change the channels when they saw things - doesn't even get a ripple of conscience anymore because it was tolerated and then endured and then embraced. And you've maybe heard me tell the story about when I first was living on the streets and I would eat - I had friends that were eating out of the dumpster and when I first saw my friends doing that I just thought that that was the grossest thing that I had ever seen - that people would climb into these - now, you know, they protect them and they close them and they lock them, but back then they were open and you - we called it dumpster diving and people would go find day-old food and stuff out of the supermarket in the dumpster - and when I first saw it - I grew up, you know, my mom was at least middle class, my dad was above that. I went back and forth between the two, but I never ate out of the garbage can.

And, you know, that was vile - and especially in New York city. In New York city in the apartment buildings, when you dealt with your trash, you walked to your landing - your back door that went down the emergency stairs and there was a chute and you'd open up this chute and you just dumped your garbage down and it went to an incinerator in the basement. And that was back when we had incinerators and all of the apartment buildings had black smoke coming out. Of course they've outlawed that now, but that's - any of you remember those days in New York city? You just dumped it in the incinerator. I'm sure we dumped stuff in there we should never have dumped in there.

But they - you open up that thing and oh, it was an awful stench. It was like the lake of fire coming up that chimney. So I didn't have a good idea about garbage and when I saw these people climbing over the edge of the dumpster and getting food out I thought, 'oh, that's gross.' But they were my friends and so I would stand at a distance at first, but I got where I got closer and closer. I thought, 'well, they're surviving. Somehow it's not killing them.

' So I got closer and closer and then when they'd go dumpster diving I started to look over the edge and then ultimately I'd get right up to the edge and I'd point and say 'grab that can for me. It's just got a dent in it.' Or something - or 'oh it looks like that bread's still got a good wrapper on it - those outside slices have a little mold but the inside looks good.' Come on. You ever done that before? 'Just the outside slice has mold on it.' And then I got where I was reaching over the edge and, you know, I started in an advisory capacity and then pretty soon I was in there with the rest of them and it happened in degrees. That's what happens with sin and you can get where it just doesn't bother you anymore. And someone on the outside of the dumpster will say, 'what in the world are you doing?' And you'll go 'what? Who me? I'm not doing anything wrong.

' And you're in the garbage. And that's how it is with darkness. People can get so used to the darkness that they don't think there's anything wrong with it. Alright, back to Zephaniah - I've sort of taken a side road here. It talks about the humble of the lord in chapter 2, "gather yourselves together, yes," - this is chapter 2, verse 1 - "yes, gather together, o undesirable nation, before the degree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the lord's fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the lord's anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld his justice.

Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden." - What does Zephaniah mean? Hidden by yahweh. And so here you find, in the middle of the book, a play on his own name where he's saying, 'I'm telling you about the terrible day of judgment." And it's like, when Peter got done preaching, at pentecost, he preached a pretty heavy sermon. He said, 'you've crucified the Messiah.' And he put the fear in them. And after he put the fear in them they said, 'men and brethren, what shall we do?' He said, 'I'm glad you asked.

There is hope.' So Zephaniah now, do you see he's offering hope? He's saying, 'seek the Lord. You may be hidden.' The judgment's coming. No escape. The day of the Lord will come. Babylon was going to come and destroy Jerusalem because they had lost - even during the time of Jeremiah, the King had several chances to go out and to surrender and they would have been spared.

But finally they reached a point of no return and like the unpardonable sin, is probation going to close for people in the last days? There was a close of probation for the city. Probation had closed and he said, 'but, there's hope for you if you'll repent.' Probation had closed for the city - for the nation - but there was hope for you. Well, even the nation still had hope beyond that, but the judgment of Nebuchadnezzar was coming. And who does he say will have hope? It says, 'the meek, the humble.' Yeah. Someone look up for me psalm :11 - who has that? You might have to check.

Okay, back here - we'll get to you in just a second. Of course, do we know Matthew 5:5? What does that say? In the beatitudes? "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Have you noticed that there's a lot of Scriptures in the Bible that tell us that if we humble ourselves - the humble find mercy. God is patient with the humble. He's forgiving with the humble. Even wicked Kings - when ahab humbled himself God showed him mercy.

And so, when we're meek and when we're humble God is often very patient and he lightens the judgement and he'll protect. Alright, go ahead and read for us psalm 37:11. "But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." So was there hope for those who would humble themselves and be meek? What's the opposite of meek? Do you know what one of the big sins was during the time of zedekiah, before the city was destroyed? He said, 'Nebuchadnezzar - he won't come here. We can take care of ourselves. We don't need the Lord.

' And they were just trusting in themselves and God said, 'alright, let's see how you do.' And because of their pride they were judged among other things. Matthew 11:28, Christ said - you know this one - this is called 'the great invitation'. There's two great greats - two great greats in Matthew. One is the great invitation - you come to Jesus and the other is the great commission - you go for Jesus. One is Matthew 18 - or Matthew 28:18 and 19 and the other is Matthew 11:28 and 29.

So it makes it easy for - one is you come to God the other is you go for God. It's like the cross. You come to God and you go for God. Love the Lord. Love your neighbor.

So you've got the great invitation and the great commission in Matthew. So this is the great invitation. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." So being Christ-like - being meek is one of the ways to find protection in that day of judgment that's coming. What are the fruits of the spirit? 'Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness' - we talked about this 'do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God' when we talked about Micah.

'Meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. But the unGodly are not so, but like the chaff of the wind that drives them away.' Zephaniah was talking about the chaff that would drive them away. And if you look in chapter 3 - chapter 3 of Zephaniah, verse 1. It says, "woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed his voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God." Because she's not doing these things - now, in the previous verse it says, 'seek, seek, seek.' In Zephaniah chapter 2, verse 1 through 3 - three times it says 'seek, seek, seek.' What does Jesus say about those who seek? They will find. the Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, "you will search for me and you'll find me when you search for me with all your heart.

" Here in Zephaniah chapter 3 it says, judgment is coming because they did not receive correction. They would not search when they had an opportunity to search. She's not drawn near. But then, finally, it tells us that there's hope. And going back to Zephaniah, if we look in chapter 3 there's a lot of promises there.

"Sing o daughter" - o let me see here - you can go to chapter 3, verse - oh, verse 9. I'm going to end up reading the whole chapter. Verse 9, "for then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones," - so it says they'd be dispersed - "shall bring my offering. In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds" - won't that be nice to not feel guilty and not to be shamed because they're forgiven? - "In which you transgress against me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.

" - Holy mountain is talking about, ultimately, the Kingdom - "I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the lord. The remnant" - there you've got the remnant again - "the remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak" - very few lies? - "No lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid." Ultimately, what is he talking about? When he says, 'they'll lie down, they'll feed their flock, no one will make them afraid'? He's talking about some of the same prophecies in Isaiah where he says, 'we have nothing to fear when we're in heaven.' He's talking about the ultimate promised land after that day of judgment that's coming in the future for us. Alright, got to the book of Nahum. I've got a minute. In Nahum chapter 1 it says, "the burden against nineveh.

The book of the vision of Nahum the elkoshite." Now, this vision against nineveh was also greatly judged and they were destroyed. You can read in oh, verse 5 for instance, "the mountains quake before him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at his presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it." Oh, we've got time. Somebody look up psalm 97, verses 3 to 5. Did somebody get that verse? Right up front here. Hold your hand up.

We'll get you a microphone. Where's the microphone? Okay. It talks about the judgment that was going to come. You know there's an interesting verse in Nahum - have you read that one? It says that 'their chariots rage in the street like lightning. Their torches blazing.

' And I remember when someone first showed me that they said, 'that's a prophecy of automobiles.' Have you ever seen that? It kind of sounds like that when you first read it. It's not. It's just talking about when there was a war raging that went on into the night when nineveh was destroyed and - alright, I think we're ready for that. Let's go ahead and let's read psalm 97, verse 3. "A fire goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about.

His lightnings light the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth." Thank you. You know, we've talked about a couple of prophecies and minor prophets that talk about days of judgment coming. Now, one was judah and Jerusalem through Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, the other one was on assyria because they had carried away - they had executed judgment on the ten tribes. The thing that I like in both books is that you find hope.

It says there's a judgment coming but God is going to have a people that will trust him. They'll do no lies, they're meek and humble in their hearts, they follow the Lord and he can hide them in the cleft of the rock, if you will, during that time of judgment so we don't need to be afraid. But we need to be aware of what's coming. Did those judgments come upon assyria? Did they come on Jerusalem? Yeah. Is the judgment coming on the world that Jesus spoke of? We need to be hidden in Christ.

That's the only place to hide. He's our Zephaniah, amen? Alright, we're out of time but I want to remind you we do have a free offer and it's 'pending: your case in court'. Just call the number on your screen and ask for offer #192. We'll be happy to send it to you. And, God willing, we look forward to studying together again next week.

In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed. Visit Sabbathtruth.com

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question

Back To Top