“I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the Lord will do nothing to them, either good or bad. So their property will be plundered, their homes will be ransacked. They will build new homes but never live in them. They will plant vineyards but never drink wine from them.
“That terrible day of the Lord is near. Swiftly it comes—a day of bitter tears, a day when even strong men will cry out. It will be a day when the Lord’s anger is poured out—a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet calls and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and the strongest battlements!
“Because you have sinned against the Lord, I will make you grope around like the blind. Your blood will be poured into the dust, and your bodies will lie rotting on the ground.”
Your silver and gold will not save you on that day of the Lord’s anger. For the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth. (Zephaniah 1:12-18)
Some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather—nice to have around, but not a real force in shaping modern life. They don’t believe in his power or his coming judgment. But God is holy, and therefore he will actively judge and justly punish everyone who is content to live in sin, is indifferent to him, or is unconcerned about justice. When people are indifferent to God, they tend to think that he is indifferent to them and their sin. They will be surprised to find that the “terrible day of the Lord is near” (1:14).
God promises a final judgment, a day of worldwide destruction (Revelation 20:12-15). The Babylonian conquest occurred just as surely and horribly as Zephaniah had predicted. And God’s final day of judgment is also sure—but so is his ability to save. To be spared from judgment, recognize that you have sinned, that your sin will bring judgment, that you cannot save yourself, and that God alone can save you.
Complacency is an ingredient like salt—it seasons our attitudes. The people of Judah were complacent about their wrongdoing. Prayerfully ask God to root out any complacency within you or within someone you know and replace it with his perspective.