Zephaniah 1, Judgment Day [Sermon Draft]

Zephaniah 1:1-7,

This time of year (Christmas/holidays), when there are parties going on, imagine that your boss is holding a Christmas party at a ballroom downtown. You are looking forward to it because you’re going for a promotion and want to hob nob with the bosses. So you go get your hair cut, done up, makeup, new shows, new Christmas clothes, new shoes, and then you head out. You arrive at the party.  And there is a large man in a black suit standing at the door with a clip-board. You walk up and the fella indignantly barks, “Name!?”  You tell him your name,_____________ and the guy looks over his list. He says, Well, I don’t see you on here. You respond, well, I work for the company, I can call the boss. You call; there’s no answer. He says, “Can’t let you in.” You remember that you never rsvp’d for the party. Your name was not on the list, so you could not go inside! You are excluded from the party because of that list.

So it will be at the end of the age. The Lord will call roll when he sits on the throne on the last day. Every name will be called, and those not written in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into eternal torment.

This passage is about the “Day of the Lord” the Day of judgment (7). That final day when all men will bow the knee to the Lord Jesus, and he will judge who will enter into eternal rest, and who will enter eternal punishment.

The point is to have your name written in the book! Have your name on the list and enter into the day!

MainQ: Why be so diligent to make certain your name is written in the book of life?

1) The Perilous Protest

At this time there was a sense of entitlement among Israel. They thought they deserved the resurrection. They did not see salvation as grace, but as their right! Israel would protest, “certainly not us, Lord! We are descendants from Abraham. We are your people. We have the promises. We generally keep the law of Moses. We have the best nation on earth. How could we be punished on the day of Judgment? “

God responds to this saying, “I will remove all from the face of the earth” 2a, and then lists them: man and beast, birds and fish, ruins and wicked ones— and last of all —-the big surprise, Judah. God’s people. The church of the OT was to be cut off!  God said, “So I will cut of Judah!” (4). The word “so” means “In the same way as I cut off all the pagans, all the animals, I will cut of Judah too!”

They were associated with the true religion. They were involved in the sacrifices. Notice how in verse 5b some did worship Yahweh, though mixed with pagan religion of Milcolm. Notice that in verse 1 we read that this was during the time of Josiah’s reign. This was a time of reformation. The people rid themselves of the idolatry at Mount Gerizim.  However, they continued their allegiance to Baal, Milcolm, and the host of heaven!

They hid behind their religious association. They thought involvement was enough. But they missed the point.

The reality is, every living soul in Judah may have had his/her name  written in the rolls of the visible church, they all attended church religiously, they all were on the registry— but their names were not written in the book of Life!

2) The Blotting out of Names!

Notice that in verse 4a reads, “I will stretch out my hand against Judah” and 4c It reads, “I will cut off the remnant of Baal…” In the next line there is no verb. In Hebrew poetry they usually use the same verb in the second line. So the last line of the verse should read, “I will cut off the names of the idolatrous priests!” Cut off from what?

The image is of God stretching out his hand with a pen, and scratching out the names of those priests from the book of life. Not even Judah was safe from God’s wrath. This is the danger of the last day, God will reveal who is and is not in the book of Life.

Compare this to

Exo 32:33  And Jehovah said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

Psa 69:28  Let them be blotted out of the book of life, And not be written with the righteous.

Dan 12:1  And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Rev 20:15  And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

My point is simply this: Make certain that your name is written in the book of life!

How do you make certain?

3) Be Covered by the Sacrifice!

In verse 7 read the story of the Lord throwing a feast with guests invited. “He has consecrated his guests” (7d). How did he consecrate them? How did he bring them in? He made “sacrifice” for them! (7c). This is nothing less than a prefiguring, a type, a prophecy about the redemptive work of God in Christ!

Jesus is the Lamb of God: The lamb in the OT was symbol of innocence. It did no wrong. But it was killed in the place of the sinner that the sinner would go free. We are those sinners, and Jesus was the “Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

If your trust is in yourself, your association with the religion, your attendance, your works, your sense of accomplishment, then you will find yourself at the end of the age in front of that man with the clipboard saying, “Your names not on the list!”

We have all kinds of protests against the Lord. Verses 5-6 list out the different kinds of people.

Some bow down to the host of heaven (5a). These worship all sorts of Gods and feel that maybe they’ll be like one of them. They worship themselves andnot the real God.

Some bow to Yahweh and Milcolm (5b). Some bow down to Jesus on Sunday, but they also bow to their idols of stone on Monday-Saturday. They accommodate to the world around. They deny Jesus all week, yet claim to be Christian!

Some turned away from the Lord (6a). They use to believe; now they don’t. They think it’s all superstition, and that at the end of this life they simply return to the dust, so grab all the ghusto now! Cf verse 12, they say, “The Lord does not see.” That is, he is not omniscient. He does not know. Even if he were real, what could he do to me!

And there are those totally indifferent to the lord (6b). They never knew of him, heard of him. They are ignorant of him. It’s not their fault that their ignorant, yet their sins still testify against them on J-day.

So we are left with a list of excuses. Left with a single conclusion: make sure your name is written in the book on J-day! God calls you today, don’t make excuses, don’t push this off. Don’t remain ignorant. Make sure your name is written in the book of life.

Conclusion:

At root, the mistake of the people of Judah was thinking that they were okay. They were going on their own strength, on their own association with religion, on their sacrifices, not on the ultimate and final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb o God (7). They trusted themselves, and not the Lord.

One day the role will be called in heaven. Will your name be on the list?

How do you know your name is on the list? By consecration of the Lord’s sacrifice! (7c). Consecration means that he makes you holy to stand in his sight. Psalm 130 asks, “If God did mark iniquities, who can stand!” If He writes them all in a book, who could protest on the day of judgment, “I deserve salvation, I’m on the roles of the church!” The problem is we cannot do that on our own. We are miserable sinners. The whole passage shows that. So what do we do? We must be covered in the blood of the lamb! We must have our names written in the book of life, by the blood of the lamb!

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