"Therefore wait for Me," declares the LORD, "For the day when I rise up as a witness Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal.Zephaniah 3:8(NASB)
Do you sometimes wonder why the Lord seemingly permits the evil deeds of wicked men to prosper, while His children seem to be facing trials and hardships? Do you sometimes simply wonder why? Or are you mystified as to why His precious promises are so long in coming? Many do. It all comes back to sin - fallen man's sin. Well, sin has to be dealt with. All sin has to be punished by God because He is holy and just.
The prophecy from Zephaniah was written to comfort the faithful remnant of Judah in their time of deep distress. The nation was being warned to repent of their sinful ways and return to the Lord, or He would chasten them for their wrongdoing. Israel was encircled by many God-hating, hostile nations, corrupt people and cities of violence, which often enticed God's people away from serving Him.
The prophet had warned about the great and terrible day of the Lord, and the entire nation would face judgement for her sin of apostasy. But he also declared that God's punishment would fall on the surrounding nations for their blasphemous ways and the harsh treatment they exercised on God's people. Sin is in the world and sin has to be punished - both the sin of pagan nations and the sin of God's people, Israel.
Because of the nation's disobedience, the faithful remnant in Judah also faced great difficulties, but they were exhorted by Zephaniah, to be patient and wait for the Lord. "'Therefore, wait for Me,' declares the LORD, 'Wait for the day when I rise us as a witness. My decision is to gather nations and assemble kingdoms. I will pour out on them My indignation and My burning anger. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal.'"
The faithful remnant were not removed from difficult and dangerous times. Instead, they were to wait patiently for the Lord to act on their behalf, when not only their local enemies would be punished, but a great and terrible universal day of judgement would fall upon the whole earth. It would be a time of deep distress and heavy darkness - the time of Jacob's Trouble. And this time is yet future.
The judgment that is yet to come on unbelieving Israel and a world at war with God, is often referred to as 'the Great Tribulation', 'the 70th week of Daniel' or 'the great and terrible Day of the Lord.' It is to be a time when God will pour out His burning fury and indignation on the whole earth, which will be consumed by the fire of His jealousy. But it is also the time when God's apostate nation will return to Him. Israel will be brought to repentance and cry out for salvation. They will look on Christ whom they pierced and mourn over their sin. There will be repentance, both nationally and individually.
While this is a passage that relates to Israel, all Old Testament truths given to Israel have direct or indirect relevance to all God's children in all ages and dispensations. God does not change, and has purposed to one day punish the Christ-rejecting sinful world that dishonours His character, blasphemes His name, plays sport with His people and tramples on the truth of His Word. And yet today, as in days-gone-by, God says WAIT! Simply wait. Wait for God's timing. "Wait for ME, declares the Lord."
Too often we want to dictate our preferred time-schedule to God, but God is not in a hurry. God will never be late in carrying out His plans and purposes, nor will He be too early! We are to wait for HIS time and to wait for HIS way. "Wait for ME!", is His instruction to us all. The glorious time of Israel's restoration is couched in this declaration from God, for He has promised to save His people from their sin, and His promises to Israel will never fail, just as His promises to the Church are 'yes' and 'amen' in Christ Jesus our Lord - and our present sojourn in this fallen world, is likewise hastening to its grand finale. Just as Israel must wait for God's timing, so we must wait for the Rapture of the Church and the resurrection of the saints, which will take place in God's time and in His way!
We too must wait. We too must simply wait on God and trust His Word. Like the faithful remnant in the times of Zephaniah, we in this Church dispensation, are instructed to wait for His timing. We are to wait for His plans and purposes to be carried out in His way, in His time and for His glory - but we are to be ready and to watch for His any-day return.
We may not understand all God's ways and we may not understand why He waits, especially as the evil deeds of wicked men seem to intensify and prosper. We may not understand why so many of His children are facing such dark trials and deep hardships. We may not understand - but we are to TRUST Him. We are to live by FATIH and not by sight, or be influenced by emotions or circumstances. It all comes back to faith in His Word and trusting His purposes and plans.
It is not always easy to trust the Lord to fulfil all that He has laid out in His Word of truth in times of deep distress. But let us wait for Him with patient endurance and steadfast faith. Despite all that we are facing today, let us remember that every day is one more day of grace. Every day that passes is one more day of God's favour, when lost people are found and sinners are saved. However, the day is fast approaching when our waiting will be over and the Lord will act on our behalf, but until then, let us wait - just wait for the day when the Lord will stand up as our witness, as He has promised.
Thank You, Father, that You are a God that does not change, that Your Word is true and Your promises sure. I pray that I may learn to wait, to simply wait for You to act. Grow my patience Lord, not only in my day-to-day life, but also in the world situation where evil is multiplying so rapidly. I trust You, because Your timing is perfect and all Your ways are just. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.