2 Corinthians 13; 1 Chronicles 3-4; Zephaniah 1
There seems to be a universal sentiment among all peoples and all religions that believe that there will be an end of time. That sentiment is that somehow the end will be a time when “they” are vindicated and upheld while the other folks will get the punishment they deserve. Sometimes, that belief was not just an end of times belief, but any intervention of God. The Israelites, especially as their society devolved from their faith and commitment towards God into a secular society that paid God lip service, saw God as the one who would deliver them from all their troubles and set things right again – because, after all, they were God’s people. They probably didn’t like Zephaniah’s message! “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.” (Zephaniah 1:7) As Zephaniah expounded on the word that God gave him, the day of the Lord was not what they had imagined. It was not to be a day of vindication but a day of ultimate judgment. Zephaniah refers to the judgment on Judah that took place not long after Josiah died. Those who claimed to be God’s people were to be judged and found guilty because they had failed to live lives that reflected their claim of a relationship with God. The judgment was especially harsh upon the upper crust of society. Even today as followers of Christ we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ. We expect a final judgment that vindicates us and destroys the other guys. Are we really ready for the day of the Lord, though? Do our lives reflect a restored relationship with God as shown by our obedience to Him in our purity, our compassion and our grace or do they reflect a lifestyle that acknowledges God’s existence without letting Him get too involved in our lives. The certainty of an end of days and of a final judgment of God should remind us that a relationship with God should change us so that our lives make a difference for others. Instead of looking forward to that eventual end, though, perhaps we should seek a life that is changed by God and live obediently for Him each day.
Lord, how easily I justify myself and my actions. I know that there is a day when You will come back. Let me live each day until that time in such a way that others will see and experience Your grace. Help me not to think of my own needs, but find ways to care for the people You love and died for.