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The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast! (Zephaniah 1:14 ESV) Our biblical understanding of the End Times has a direct impact on our everyday living. Today, we hear how The Day of the LORD is coming soon. The imminent nature of this day is what encourages us to live with eager expectation of our Lord’s return in service to our neighbor to the glory of God.

Can it be? Thanksgiving is this week. Monday we will start to thaw the turkeys! Advent starts on December 3rd and its time for the Hanging of the Greens. How time flies! As each day passes so quickly, one can hardly remember one day from another. To mark these days with sober contemplation, we continue our focus on the Bible’s view of The Day of the LORD.

Zephaniah was a 7th century prophet sent to warn the people of Judah and Jerusalem of the coming destruction that would come upon the nation of Israel on account of their sin. Zephaniah is not light reading. “A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zephaniah 1:14 ESV). By the end of the first chapter we may be ready to close the book. But his poetic style repeats again and again the imminent nature The Day of the LORD. “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near” and “The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast! (Zephaniah 1:7, 14 ESV) Like Amos, Zephaniah is clear that God’s judgement is coming upon His people and all nations, and soon!

But what happens when things seem delayed? There were probably some fifty years between Zephaniah’s oracle and the destruction of Jerusalem. While it is possible that Josiah’s reforms did come about the time of Zephaniah, we know they didn’t last long, and things went back to the way it was. You can maybe think of a few situations where a predicted outcome, or an anticipated event was long in coming. Jesus tells His disciples just such a parable in Matthew 25:14-30. A certain master was going on a trip and he gave different portions of all his possessions to each of his three servants to manage while he was away. But the master’s long delay led one of these three servants to exhibit a slothful attitude, while the other two used their talents to reap a benefit for the master. Let’s be honest, there are some things that are just naturally easy for us all to put off until the last possible moment. Either the urgency of other matters, or the lack of our own discipline and time management can really catch us off guard. Sometimes, though, there is an underlying fear of getting it wrong. Doing nothing seems like the safest bet. Whatever the reason, though, we will in the end need to take responsibility for the outcome and our list of reasons and complaints will not change that outcome at all.

So, what can change the outcome? If the Day is coming and we don’t know when, then what can we do? Here the Prophet Zephaniah gives us a hint. With his reference to what the LORD has done at the very beginning! “The LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated His guests” (Zephaniah 1: 7 ESV). Who will hear the commendation, “Well done good and faithful servant?” The one clothed with God’s own “talent.” This “talent” was won for us by God’s own sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross. In Him, we are made ready for this day of gloom and darkness by being changed into the people of light. We now live as people of light with a sober attitude – recognizing our own weaknesses and sins, our need for a Savior, and a passion for all for whom He died. We are urged by the Hastening Day to make ready ourselves with eager expectation.

As we wait for The Day of the LORD and His appearing with this eager expectation, even now we live with faith and hope as we use the gift that He has given us to serve our neighbor in the Holy Spirit that comes from Him to His glory.

Pastor Carl