Zephaniah 1:14-18 – This Day

Read Zephaniah 1:14-18

Zephaniah’s oracle now shifts focus to “all” people, not just rebellious Judah. Churches today have coupled this passage with New Testament passages speaking of the final judgment. You may even recognize some of these images have become the lyrics in hymns and worship songs.

This day will be a day of bitter tears, men crying out, all while the Lord’s anger is poured out on all people. It’s not a pleasant picture at all. Yet, it is destruction we can anticipate will happen when the Lord’s Day finally arrives. Will we see it in our lifetime? Only God knows.

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Zephaniah 1:7-13 – A Moment of Silence

Read Zephaniah 1:7-13

Zephaniah asserts that judgment day is coming soon, and he is not referring to the end times here but to a specific time in history yet to come for those first hearing his words. Zephaniah is not the only prophet talking about it either. God is using many “mouthpieces” to get the message out that he is not happy with his people.

It’s good to take a moment of silence in our own day to take an account of what’s going on in our lives. Do our actions glorify God or disappoint him? Do we see chaos, worry, doubt, thrill, busyness, fear, loneliness, great success, embarrassing failures? What is happening in your life right now? Is God part of the picture? If not, invite him in!

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Joel 2:1-11 – Day of the LORD

Read Joel 2:1-11

The locust theme continues as Joel describes for us in more detail the path of destruction and what the “day of the LORD” will look like. This fearsome day will involve a terrible invasion. No wonder he ended our last reading by saying it was horrible! Today’s reading ends in similar fashion. “The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?”

The locusts from our last reading are now personified into an army with strict marching orders. We get a clue to the locust’s target when Joel tells us Jerusalem is involved. From spending time reflecting on prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, we know Jerusalem’s fate is precarious.

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Joel 1:1-20 – It’s More Than Locusts

Read Joel 1:1-20

Welcome to the book of Joel, another one of the twelve minor prophets. You may have noticed that Joel, compared to other prophets, started with a strikingly abbreviated “editorial heading.”  That’s what opens the book and sets forth the time frame and sometimes location where the prophet received the message from God. That being absent in Joel’s prophecy leads to much speculation among scholars. It’s good to keep in mind the timeless message given by Joel that sin brings God’s judgment, yet with God’s justice there is great mercy as well.

As you read through Joel, focus on the Holy Spirit’s message for you today regarding the contents. You may be also asking, is the prophecy about locusts? That’s part of it, but the questions should be, what’s the “real” message behind the locusts, and who do the locusts represent?

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