Zephaniah 2 has the prophet pressing God’s people to take action and gathering together in a solemn demonstration of national mourning and repentance. “Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect”. God is in the restoration business. He always wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him. Zephaniah warns the people to take action “before the day passes away like chaff—before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord”.
God has to deal with sin. It is in contrast with His nature, and He can’t turn His head and ignore it. The often-unwritten story behind most every prophecy of judgment isa description of what will happen if there is not repentance. God will take action. There needs to be a sense of urgency in that repentance. God is patient, but He won’t wait forever. Zephaniah tries to make that clear as he tells the people that they need to take action and repent. It is the first step in receiving forgiveness. We must confess, repent and believe. Jesus came to give us that avenue of forgiveness.
God gives a message to all of us. “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord”. No one will escape God’s judgment. In more than one place in scripture, God promises to hide His righteous in the day of great judgment. We will stand before Him and face His judgment based on how we have lived. No one will be exempt. No one will get a pass. Only those who have dealt with the sin of their life will be spared. That’s why Jesus came – to give us a way to cover our sin with His blood and take us through God’s judgment unscathed.
The rest of the chapter describes God’s judgment and action against a number of nations. “Woe to you inhabitants….the word of the Lord is against you”. I can think of no worse place to be than on the wrong side of God’s judgment. Nations will face God’s judgment and He will deal with each according to how they live. It is certainly not going to be a pretty site, and in many cases, God promises to wipe them off the face of the earth. God completes a circle of judgment against Israel’s neighbors for all they have done to His people.