Nothing could be expressed with more spirit and life, nor in words more proper to startle and awaken a secure and careless people, than the warning here given to Judah and Jerusalem of the approaching destruction by the Chaldeans. That is enough to make the sinners in Zion tremble—that it is the day of the Lord, the day in which he will manifest himself by taking vengeance on them. It is the great day of the Lord, a specimen of the day of judgment, a kind of doom’s-day, as the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans is represented to be in our Saviour’s prediction concerning it, Matt. 24:27.
I. This day of the Lord is here spoken of as very near. The vision is not for a great while to come, as those imagine who put the evil day far from them. Those deceive themselves who look upon it as a thing at a distance, for it is near—it is near—it hastens greatly. The prophet gives the alarm like one that is in earnest, like one that awakens a family with the cry of Fire! fire! when it is at the next door that the danger is: “It is near! it is near! and therefore it is high time to bestir yourselves, and do what you can for your own safety before it be too late.” It is madness for those to slumber whose damnation slumbers not, and to linger when it hastens.
II. It is spoken of as a very dreadful day. The very voice of this day of the Lord, the noise of it, when it is coming, shall be so terrible as to make the mighty men cry there bitterly, cry for fear as children do. It shall be a vexation to hear the report of it. In the last great day of the Lord the mighty men sh 146f all cry bitterly to rocks and mountains to shelter them; but in vain. Observe how emphatically the prophet speaks of this day approaching (Zeph. 1:15): It is a day of wrath, God’s wrath, wrath in perfection, wrath to the utmost. It will be a day of trouble and distress to the sinners; they shall be in pain, and shall see no ways of easing or helping themselves. The miseries of the damned are summed up (perhaps with reference to this) in the indignation and wrath of God, which are the cause, and the tribulation and anguish of the sinner’s soul, which are the effect, Rom. 2:8, 9. It will be a day of trouble and distress to the inhabitants, and a day of wasteness and desolation to the whole land; that fruitful land shall be turned into a wilderness. It shall be a day of darkness and gloominess; every thing shall look dismal, and there shall not be the least gleam of comfort, or glimpse of hope; look round, and it is all black. It is a day of clouds and thick darkness; there is not only nothing encouraging, but every thing threatening; the thick clouds are big with storms and tempests.
III. It is spoken of as a destroying day, Zeph. 1:16, 17. It shall be destroying, 1. To places, even the strongest and best fortified: A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, to break into them, and against the high towers, to bring them down; for what forts, what fences, can hold out against the wrath of God? 2. To persons (Zeph. 1:17): “I will bring distress upon men, the strongest and stoutest of men; their hearts and hands shall fail them; they shall walk like blind men, wandering endlessly, because they have sinned against the Lord.” Note, Those that walk as bad men will justly be left to walk as blind men, always in the dark, in doubt and danger, without any guide or comfort, and falling at length into the ditch. Because they have sinned against the Lord he will deliver them into the hands of cruel enemies, that shall pour out their blood as dust, so profusely, and with as little regret, and their flesh shall be thrown as dung upon the dunghill.
IV. The destruction of that day will be unavoidable and universal, Zeph. 1:18. 1. There shall be no escaping it by ransom: Neither their silver nor their gold, which they have hoarded up so covetously against the evil day, or which they have spent so prodigally to make friends for such a time, shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. Another prophet borrowed these words from this, with reference to the same event, Ezek. 7:19. Note, Riches profit not in the day of wrath, Prov. 11:4. Nay, riches expose to the wrath of men (Eccl. 5:13), and riches abused to the wrath of God. 2. There shall be no escaping it by flight or concealment; for the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy, and where then can a hiding-place be found? See what the fire of God’s jealousy is, and what the force of it; it will devour whole lands; how then can particular persons stand before it? He shall make riddance, a speedy riddance, of all those that dwell in the land, as the husbandman, when he rids his ground, cuts up all the briers and thorns for the fire. Note, Sometimes the judgments of God make riddance, even utter riddance, with sinful nations, a speedy riddance; their destruction is effected, is completed, in a little time. Let not sinners be laid asleep by the patience of God, for when the measure of their iniquity is full his justice will both overtake and overcome, will make quick work and thorough work.