“Seek the Lord, all you humble ones of the earth
who are determined to do as he decides;
Perhaps you may be covered in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
~Zephaniah 2:3 (Moyter)
We tend to gloss over such Scripture as Zephaniah, where the descriptions of the Day of the Lord conspire against happy-clappy praise and veiled thanksgiving.
Sometimes we are seduced by a feel-good Christianity that serves no purpose at all in lauding God to the ends of face-down devotion. The church, it seems, has many apostates proffering the message of cheap grace—a one-sided, glorious salvation with little emphasis on Judgment. It is easy to understand; it’s an unpopular message.
This is why the Minor Prophets have a key, ongoing role in correcting our rose-coloured theology.
As a collective, they highlight an irrevocable truth—we fall short of God and must, thereby, repent. Where we forget such a truth, we are unprepared for the Day of the Lord.
There are three invocations in preparing for such a calamitous reality:
Seek The Lord
The target of this prophecy is, no doubt, the people of God—but they are called, particularly, to the adornment of their souls in both true lowliness and consummate determination: in certitude for the impending Day of the Wrath.
Determination of obedience—the aberrantly patient seeking of God’s face—is to be priority-one, motivated by honest reflection: barring reconnection in Jesus, we are a long way from the holiness of the Lord. We are to be ardent in our faith.
Desiring God is realised in seeking righteousness and humility.
What is a seriously misunderstood concept will lead inevitably to the most adroit humility expected of the saints of God.
Having sought the Lord with a devotion unparalleled to prior personal experience—implicit perhaps for fear of the Day—and taking no chances regarding allegiance—God’s Spirit implicates and convicts the heart. True righteousness before God, nothing like self-righteousness, is the terrible though liberating realisation of the personal human condition. The sinner needs saving and they know it.
Seeking righteousness is walking out on apostasy—it takes all of our lukewarm ambivalence toward God and replaces it with the sharpness of true understanding; then enters humility.
Fundamental truths need to be magnified; the Lord will not destroy the broken and contrite (Psalm 51:16-17). On the Day of the Lord the humble will be saved; not those who proudly parade their humility, but the lowly ones who know their place.
Humility is not thinking of ourselves less, per se, but agreeing to see ourselves truly in the light of God. It is not thinking of others more, but seeing all of life as much as it truly is.
When we see life in the light of God, and as much as we can in the way it truly is, again we are compelled to see our sinfulness, God’s perfection, and the enormity of Divine grace. We have been saved!
Combining these three imperatives—to seek God, his righteousness, and true humility—provides a wonderful backdrop to the protection afforded the genuine follower of the Lord.
With eyes only for their God, and truth as a Spiritual witness, they are led into the humility that draws God’s blessing. Together these three speak of drawing ever near in Shelter.
When we humble ourselves before God, seeking truth and humility, we procure Divine Shelter of the Lord. Let us ensure we are alert; the time is at hand when we will need it.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: J. Alec Moyter, “Zephaniah” in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical & Expository Commentary – Vol. 3 (Ed. Thomas Edward McComiskey) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1998), pp. 913, 925-28.