Zephaniah: The End of the World: Is There Any Hope?

“Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf.” Jonathan Edwards

On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon that he would not be allowed to finish.  New England was in the throes of the Great Awakening, and the fires of revival were burning in churches which had been spiritually cold and dry, if not dead.  “It is astonishing,” wrote Edwards, “to see the alteration that there is in some towns, where before was but little appearance of religion.”  In a letter to a Boston pastor by the name of Thomas Prince Edwards reported that “It was a very frequent thing to see a house full of outcries, faintings, convulsions and such like, both with distress and also with admiration and joy.”  Teams of ministers were traveling throughout New England as itinerant preachers riding on the wave of the Spirit’s reviving work.  One town was notoriously resistant to the Spirit’s work, Enfield, Connecticut. 

It was July 8, when a team of ministers arrived at the Enfield church, and found the reception indifferent and even rude.  As one congregant later recalled, the people were “thoughtless and vain” and “hardly conducted themselves with common decency.”  In sharp contrast to what was happening all around them, the Enfield church showed little interest whatsoever in spiritual matters.  One tradition says that Edwards was not scheduled to preach that day, but stood in for one of the other preachers. 

He had preached his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” before in his own church in Northampton, Massachusetts, with no notable response.  But on this day in Enfield the Lord did something remarkable.  We don’t know how he preached, but we do know that when he started to preach the people listening began to weep and cry out and even shriek as he painted the picture of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  The outcry became so great that Edwards was forced to discontinue his sermon, and the team of ministers went down into the congregation and prayed with them in small groups, many of them coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  Revival broke out in Enfield with the preaching on the wrath of God.

We have been reading the messages of the Minor Prophets and while we don’t know the immediate response of those who heard them, it seems the general response to them was much like the church in Enfield before Edwards preached his famous sermon.  Perhaps the more pressing question is, how shall we respond to these messages from the Lord?  The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah is relevant to us today.  What will we do with it?

Pray:  Return to Luke 21:34-36 and let that inform your prayer as you begin you meditation on the message of Zephaniah.

Read:  Zephaniah 2:1-3:8 twice and carefully.

Meditate: This is a sobering declaration of judgment.  Is there any hope?  Use the questions given below to help you meditate on this word from the Lord through His prophet Zephaniah.