“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who carry out what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be concealed on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
— Zephaniah 2:3 (CSB – Read the chapter)
When I was in high school I got to perform in a percussion ensemble for state competition. Our piece was the Mau Mau Suite. I don’t really remember that much about it except it was a lot of fun to play and one of the movements was called “The Gods Must Be Angry.” That idea came to mind when reading this verse. In most human cultures across the ages, much of the activity and decisions of the people were driven by this thought that the gods must be angry. Because they are angry, they must be appeased. How do you do that? Well…it’s hard to say. It serves to make religion and life kind of scary. What we see here gives us a small reminder that the God of the Bible isn’t like that.
The end of Zephaniah 1 is intense. I’d even go so far as to call it disturbing. It’s violent and chaotic. It imagines the whole earth being destroyed and all the people of the earth being wiped out. Blood and guts are flowing like waste water in a sewer. What’s left but to simply give up and wait for the end to come?
But then as chapter 2 starts, the tone suddenly shifts. There’s no destruction here. Instead, there is a call to repentance. Repentance? But I thought God was going to destroy everything and everyone? I thought He was angry and beyond the point that He was going to be able to be appeased?
But you see, that’s not the God of the Bible. Oh, He gets angry. He gets ferociously angry sometimes. Frighteningly angry. But His anger is always focused in the direction of sin and those who are guilty of it. It is not a blanket anger and it is never a selfish anger. His anger at sin is not just because. It is because of what sin does to the world He created…and the people He loves who live in it.
That’s the thing about sin: it destroys. God hates it for that. And one day, He’s going to get rid of it in its entirety. That’ll be a good day, but it’ll be a wild day too. And scary. Scary because all those who are caught up in sin will be caught up in the destruction.
But here’s the thing about God: He doesn’t want anyone impacted by that destruction. Again, He’s angry, but it’s a focused anger. And He wants to give everyone the chance to avoid the fury of that wrath who wants it. So He does exactly what we see here: calls all who would listen to repentance.
That’s the thing about the destruction and fury of God’s judgment: no one has to face it. No one. Anyone who’s willing can seek the Lord and live. They can be hidden in Him from the destruction He has planned. The life He offers is for everyone; everyone willing to do life like He designed it to be lived.
That’s all the good news. The even better news is that in Christ, our loving and faithful God doubled down on both this call to repentance as well as the life available for those who will receive it…receive Him. If you want to live, there is life available for the living. So seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who carry out what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility, seek Jesus, and you will be concealed on the day of the Lord’s anger.