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©Michael Player

Chapter 1:7-9 (ESV)

Posted on May 26, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:7-9 (ESV) - Be silent before the LORD God!
    For the day of the LORD is near;
the LORD has prepared a sacrifice
    and consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the LORD's sacrifice—
“I will punish the officials and the king's sons
    and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
On that day I will punish
    everyone who leaps over the threshold,
and those who fill their master's house
    with violence and fraud.

Question to consider: What does scripture mean by the phrase “the day of the LORD”?

I think a common mistake people make in trying to understand the prophetic texts in scripture is that they attribute the day of the LORD to a single event at the end of time. Since we live in time and space, we tend to order things chronologically and spatially. Scripture doesn’t always work that way. If you have been through my studies of the gospel accounts, you may have noticed that the only one who gave a well-ordered account of the events from the conception of John the Baptist through the resurrection of Christ was Luke. Matthew and Mark may have referred to the same events as Luke, but they organized them according to their commentary on aspects of Christ’s ministry. John covered the same period of time, but focused his narrative around specific signs that revealed Jesus as the Son of God.

With that said, I would argue that everyone has an encounter with the day of the LORD. The day of the LORD is a blessing to those who have been given the righteousness of Christ by faith. We even refer to the first day of the week as “the LORD’s day” to remember His resurrection and gather together in faith to receive from Christ through word and sacrament. For us, the day of the LORD marks our eternal rest from works of the Law, and we look forward to a point in time in which we go to be with Him and are no longer at war with the flesh, the world, and the devil.

The reason we have been given this righteousness and can enter that rest is because Jesus experienced "the day of the LORD" on the cross in our stead. On this day, God poured out the full cup of His wrath on Jesus who took upon Himself the sins of the whole world. When Jesus forgave people their sins or healed their bodies, He was not ignoring their sins but paying the penalty for them. He even paid for the sin of those who “knew not what they were doing” as the nails were being pounded into His flesh.

The LORD is holy and just, and justice is satisfied by two measures: mercy and judgment. Those who refuse the mercy of God offered to them by faith, face the day of the LORD’s judgment when He returns at the Resurrection. Today’s passage marked God’s warning to Judah through Zephaniah that their time of judgment was near. People who don’t recognize the day of the LORD as anything but the final eschaton try to play around with the word near, rendering it meaningless. If near could refer to thousands of years, the prophecy from Zephaniah would have no effect on king Josiah.

Instead, Josiah was silenced with the knowledge that the LORD had already prepared a sacrifice of the officials, royals, and anyone who arrayed themselves in foreign attire. The Babylonians were the guests the LORD consecrated to be His holy sword against them.

Foreign attire referred to the vestments or talismans for gods like Baal. Leaping over the threshold was a reference to the custom of the Philistines who did not tread on the threshold of their temple because that is where the hands and head of Dagon were when their idol had fallen before the ark of the covenant (see 1 Samuel 5:1-5) These religious frauds of Israel would be destroyed along with the holy city of Jerusalem, and those who survived this judgment were to be exiled to Babylon.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for preparing Christ as the perfect sacrifice who paid for the sins of every tribe and nation. May we receive the benefits of that sacrifice by faith and find our rest in the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.