History illustrates the awesome outworking of initial events from when the LORD has declared. “I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD … their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD” (Zephaniah 1:17,18). We started reading this short and somewhat overlooked prophecy of Zephaniah today. He would have been one of the prophets Peter referred to. He told them they “should remember the predictions of the holy prophets” (2 Peter 3:2). He then stressed that “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning’” (verses 3,4).
His message had an initial application to the final years before Jerusalem fell. But Peter also tells his readers, “do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness” (verses 8,9). The Lord “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar” (verse 10). The “heavens” we understand to be the rulers, and today so many Governments are in trouble, especially being financially unstable, and nearly all have armies at the ready! Soon “the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (verse 10) – (“burned up” some versions say; NIV, “will be laid bare”) – this is when “the Lord will come like a thief”.
At that time the ways of godless living will be seen for the foolishness they are. We must never forget, there are only 2 ways: the broad way and the narrow way. Those on the narrow way are “waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (verses 13,14).
Included in what they are waiting for is something Job perceived. He declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (19:25-27). Job believed in resurrection!
That final comment is thought provoking. Our hearts will be in danger of fainting for multiple reasons, when God “bring(s) distress” – the experience will be awesome for believers! But how imminent then will be the time when they will “see God” through seeing His Son, marvelling in anticipation of the ultimate time when “God Himself will be with them as their God … for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3,4). Let us anticipate in faith the things that “our eyes shall behold” to carry us through the coming time of “distress”.