Sunday: A Day of Darkness
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The focal point of Zephaniah’s message is the “day of the Lord” (Zeph. 1:7).

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

For biblical prophets, the day of the Lord refers to a specific period of time in which God intervenes in human affairs in order both to save and to judge. Most people in ancient Israel believed that on this day the Lord would save and exalt Israel while the enemy nations would be destroyed forever. To the great surprise of those who listened, the prophet declared that the day of the Lord would be a day of doom even for God’s people (seeZeph. 1:1-5) because they had sinned against Him (Zeph. 1:17).

Compare Zephaniah 1:14-18 with Joel 2:1-11 and Amos 5:18-20. Together, what picture do they present about “the day of the Lord?”

Zephaniah likens the coming judgment to the sweeping away of all life in the days of the great Flood (Genesis 6-8). The catalog of death in Zephaniah 1:2-3 is arranged somewhat in reverse order of God’s original Creation: humanity, land beasts, the creatures of the air, and those of the sea (compare with Gen. 1:20-27).

The prophet warned the people that they would not be able to buy their way out of judgment (Zeph. 1:18). Neither silver nor gold would protect them from the Lord’s anger. The complacent people in Jerusalem claimed that God would do neither good nor harm. They simply did not expect the Lord to do anything (Zeph. 1:12). But divine judgments reveal how much God actively works to ensure that there will be a future for His faithful people.

Zephaniah makes it clear that God’s judgment is not only punitive but corrective. The Lord holds out a promise of shelter for those who seek him (Zeph. 2:3). The day of the Lord is more than the end of the world. It is the beginning of the future establishment of God’s rule, which will last forever.

Read Zephaniah 1:18. In what ways do we even now experience the truth of the principle expressed here? That is, what kind of situations have we faced where all the money in the world could not save us?

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Sunday: A Day of Darkness — 23 Comments

  1. It will be 
    as though a man fled from a lion,
    And a bear met him!
    Adventist hope in Jesus return can be self delusion ? What will Master say when comes? Are we on the left or right side? Go in Jerusalem or stay out?

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    • Adventist hope in Jesus' return is not a delusion. I am sorry. The word of God speaks of Jesus' return in Revelation chapter 14 and also throughout the whole Bible.

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  2. The focal point of Zephaniah is not really the "day of the Lord" but the failings of God's people that has precipitated His judgmen:
    1. Failure of God's leaders, be they kings or "prophets" to lead the flock in the right direction;
    2. Failure of God's people to live justly and to love mercy as they walked humbly with their God.

    Social injustice and oppression of the disadvantaged were twin sins that were rampant in Zephaniah's time and in our time, yet the authors of the Sabbath school lesson fail to address this. How long will Advenitsm remain silent on social injustice issues and showing mercy to those in need?

    I am teaching the lesson this Sabbath and I am frustrated at the silence in my church on these issues.

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    • Dealing with social injustice issues and showing mercy to those in need, I think is a case of "go and do likewise".

      I agree that our church is sleeping in sins of the world. We mostly serve to our self's.

      Only action can help. Talking is of no help. I think lesson is good. Our dealing with "showing mercy" is part of Q: do we go in New Jerusalem or not ?

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    • Thambi Thomas,
      Indeed there is a lot social injustice happening not only around us but also among us Adventist as a people. The lesson study is a just a guide into the study. You can,am sure like many other class facilitators, both expound and discuss the scriptures and help each other like Habakkuk live justly love mercy and walk humbly with our God. That when He appears in the clouds of heaven, we will say thank you Lord,we have been waiting for.

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    • God came to save the lost, not the government. Social injustice and oppression will always be part of this sinful world. We, God's people are called to tend to one another's needs. When Jesus walked on this earth He did not rise against Roman, or any other nation. He dealt with individuals and theirs souls and needs. He called us to be witnesses to a lost world, and helping others is very much a part of this witnessing. We should not be as concerned with the deeds of the church as we should be concerned with our own deeds.

      Good discussion!

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    • You can be a "light" in your local church by raising awareness. Make a difference where you are. You can also contact the author of this lesson and share your insight and concerns. I pray that you will allow God to use you to educate the thought leaders of our denomination. Go in peace my friend.

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  3. [Thank you for your comments, Adwills. Next time please include your full name.]

    From Sunday's lesson: it is now ascertained that the Lord's day will be a day to part the faithful who in the faithfulness to Lord waited patiently while unveiling the impending doom for the evil ones.
    Similary it implies to we christians of today, no matter how ungodly people may ridicule us we should always take hold of the day so that it should not be a doom to us as well.

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  4. We as seventh-day Adventists claims that to have the real massage of God, but let us be watchful of our spiritual ways, our relationship with our God because the scripture says, the saved ones (ones that are not God's chosen society) from all nations will come and join with God's people who remain strong ready to meet Jesus.

    As seventh-day Adventists let us not trust in ourselves that we are true remained God's people (society) and ignore other people, pointing to them that, they are not right ones. Remember some among them will come in and take our position inside and some who profess goes out. Let us update ourselves spiritually every day to make strong relation to our almighty God, let us make a new step each day, let us always say we still have a journey to make not yet in destination.

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  5. it's so sweet to trust in the Lord all the time because once you develop a relationship with the Lord day in day out we will not be anxious when we hear or read about the ''day of the Lord'' for we will alwys know that judgemment is due to start in the house of the Lord 1 Peter 4:17 & Amos 3:7. How good is it to know that the judge is our friend, Redeemer, Brother and above all our Intercessor. It will be a day of doom indeed to those who profess to be 'christians' whilst on the other hand they do exactly what is contra to their calling, God has no room for pretence 2 Timothy 3:5 "having a formm of Godliness but denying the power thereof". If you're in partnership with the Lord there is nothing to fear for you will know that His blood will surely cover thee.

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  6. I do believe, Thambi, that the burden to relieve the oppressed is an important work as Jesus came to do it. Each of us need more of Jesus in our hearts, and more of Him means more of His love. As He heals us, we can and should reach out that healing to the disadvantaged around us.

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  7. [Thank you for your comment. Next time please include your full name.]

    Money can't bring back life after the devastation because of natural disasters. It can't help the confusion of a broken home. It can't fix the hurt when your children go astray, nor does it help to take away the guilt of sin. But the Grace of God can fix all these problems. Praise God for always giving us a Zephaniah 2:3 which is hope.

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  8. Amen and Amen Dr. King has the same premise in mind, when he wrote the letter from the Birmingham jail to the so called religious leaders.

    The oppression and injustice is the same twin sin today as it was during the minor prophet era.

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  9. Thambi I think your comments are truly valid. I struggle also with the lack of response that our church organization has with regards to social injustice. We are busy increasing our wealth and flying around the world holding meeting that could be facilitated in other ways given the advances of technology today. That being said, I think we also need to look at ourselves and ask the question what am I doing personally to respond to social injustice in my community, in my country, and in the global community. Too often we like to hide behind our organization not recognizing that we must do our part right where we live.

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  10. Could Thambi Thomas be more explicit concerning the social injustice and showing mercy to those in need. From my knowledge, most SDA churches have programs to help the disadvantaged. Some are more active than others. However, if you see a need at your church, perhaps you could organize a program to fit the needs in your community. The purpose of the lessons is to search your heart, see what you can do for the Lord.

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  11. We as Gods chosen need to study and pray for guidance from our "High Priest" and only give each other promise from HIS word for strength to go forward and share the gospel and love, peace to oneonother. We need to be Zephaniahs and make sure that we allow GOD to increase and we decrease.
    May GOD be our true light in this world. Lets make a difference.
    EACH ONE REACH ONE is my prayer.

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  12. We thank the authors for such a great lesson. Firstly I am bothered by the whole "social-injustice" idea. Honestly speaking,nomatter how hard we work,remember we are still in the sinful world brethren. Not all the churches are silent towards the issue but some of them have been working towards aliviating the element but then its has not worked out the way we think it should. Remember,not everyone wants to be helped. Anyway,my greatest smile falls on Zephaniah 2:18 "...neither silver nor gold can help them" This is again a reminder to seek the Lord first and then everything else shall follow. Money will never aliviate pain of losing a loved one,will never feed happiness to the spirit and most of all will never give us courage to stand in the day of the Lord. We are being reminded that nomatter how technology develops,or how fair our governments may seem to be,or how loving our partners can be "SEEK YE THE KINGDOM OF GOD FIRST!!" God Bless You All :)

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  13. A number of correspondents on this particular lesson segment have made reference to the church and its inaction on social justice issues. However I do not see specific examples of such inaction mentioned. I am not suggesting that social injustice is not an issue, but blanket condemnation is not all that helpful in understanding the issue. In some respects it is a little bit like my childhood prayer, "bless the missionaries" - a generalisation that was a sort of a catch-all.

    Are there social injustices that the church should be addressing? Are they race, education, gender, socioeconomic in nature? Should we be addressing such issues, or is our commission to simply "preach the Word" and let the social injustices sort themselves out?

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    • If preaching the message is our only responsibility, what is the relevance of the parable of the good Samaritan?

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      • Elmor, I don't see Maurice suggestion that we are simply to "preach the word." He is asking a question to make us think.

        In this discussion, the comments re "social injustice" seem to imply that "the church," as a corporate body, ought to be addressing such issues.

        By contrast, the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches than anyone who is in need who comes to our personal attention is our neighbour and therefore one we should treat such persons with love and compassion, as the situation calls for.

        It is easy enough to say that "the church" ought to address issues. It is harder to minister to the "neighbours" God brings to our attention.

        I believe Christ taught and modeled that we are to minister to the needs of people around us as we are able. I do not recall him calling "the church" to enter into politics to address social injustice issues.

        Of course, there's also the matter of the church itself practising social injustice within its ranks. Surely, we, as members, ought to use our influence to change the situation. Or so it seems to me ..

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  14. In this day of the Lord, why are beasts fowls fish and even creatures that didn't anger the lord as man did being destroyed too? Zephaniah 1:3;

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    • Tough question Chako! And one worth thinking about.

      I think that the verses concerned are a metaphor for the destruction by enemies that was prophesied on Judah.

      However in the wider sense, here is my short observation. One of the great issues with evil is that it does not just affect the sinner. It also has a wider effect. When sin entered the world it tilted the playing field. All of creation was affected - that is the unfairness of sin. Part of our responsibility as committed Christians is to ensure that all of creation is treated fairly. And while we cannot change the whole world, we can do our bit by being responsible in the area that comes under our influence.

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