Zephaniah 1, Psalm 116
Of all the harsh judgements found in the prophetic writings, those warnings found in Zephaniah 1 are some of the most dire. One respected study BIble hardly comments on verse 2, when God promises to sweep away everything from the earth, or on vs. 18 when God promises to make a sudden end of all the inhabitants of the earth. Even many other writings that do reflect on these verses ignore questions about how this squares with the book Revelations prophecy about Jesus returning to judge the earth and rescuing a faithful remnant. I have seen one spiritualized interpretation that suggest Zephaniah is seeing God wiping away all those that are found in Adam to complete the judgment due those not found in Christ. I choose instead to see such sweeping warnings as an aspect of how this genre works to portray the cataclysmic nature of the Day of the Lord. This day will be like no other for our earth, this judgement will be so transformative that even the flood will seem comparably inconsequential. It will be as if God took our planet, shook it viciously to purge evil once and for all. However we square this chapter with our larger views of the final days, the clear picture is that Israel, the church, and everyone in between should heed these words with fear and trembling at the mighty hand of the Lord. This side of the cross, we can also tremble with gladness at the cataclysm Jesus faced in our place.