Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 / Matthew 25:14-30
How long has it been since you’ve heard or said these words: “You just wait ‘til your father gets home! He’ll make you pay for the way you’ve been acting!”? We hear the same words from fire and brimstone preachers when they say: “You just wait until the day of the Lord when your Father makes you pay for how you’ve been acting!”
“The day of the Lord is at hand.” What’s your image when you hear those words? Zephaniah gives us some cause for concern when he says, (v.14) The great day of the Lord is near and hastening fast…that day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation…(17)… Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; in the fire of His passion the whole earth shall be consumed…”
That’s a frightening picture of the day of the Lord. It’s very easy to project this day into the future and point to it as ‘the day of judgment’ when the sheep will be divided from the goats, and the goats will be sent away into everlasting punishment.
The day of the Lord is a major theme in Old Testament prophecy. Except the day of the Lord was a present day thing, a day that was very close at hand. The first day of the Lord recorded in the Bible was when Israel entered Canaan. The Hebrew writers said it was a day of judgment on the wicked Canaanites when the Lord battled to defeat them.
Another day of the Lord came when the locusts invaded Israel and ate all their crops, bringing hunger and starvation to the land – that day of judgment came because Israel had turned away from God.
The day the Babylonians invaded Israel to take them into captivity was ‘the day of the Lord.’
Whenever the prophets saw something bad coming because the people were not following God’s commands, they gave God the credit for the bad things happening because of sin. Any day the people suffered punishment was called ‘the day of the Lord.’
But there’s another side to ‘the day of the Lord.”
In the book of Amos (2;32; 3:16, 18-21), the day of the Lord was a day of deliverance and extraordinary blessing for God’s people when they did the right things—like when they practiced justice and mercy. The day of the Lord was a day of blessing.
You can be a prophet, too. You can predict a day of the Lord for anyone.
It’s as easy as saying, “If you spend time doing what is good and right, the day of the Lord for you will bring much blessing.” And you can say, “If you don’t do what is good and right, if you aren’t committed to the welfare of your neighbor because you are living selfishly, the day of the Lord that is near isn’t going to be one of your better days.”
The consequences of our actions are not about God reaching down and punishing us as the fact that unloving actions have negative consequences. There is always a price to pay for our actions. Good actions are rewarded with blessings. Poor actions bring penalties.
The same thing can be said about the kingdom of heaven (also known as the development of unity and harmony in my ebook about the kingdom of heaven).
A day in the kingdom of the heavens will be a good one for you when you live it in service to your neighbor and your Master. You will have peace, joy, and hope. But a day in the kingdom of the heavens will not be as good if you don’t use the talents you’ve been given to increase the treasure of the Master.
The day of the Lord for the Hebrews is pretty closely associated with the kingdom of the heavens in the Gospels. There are consequences for your actions. You reap what you sow. And you’ll probably experience the consequences sooner than later.
Jesus’s teaching about the talents applies here, too. What did the master give to each servant? Jesus used the monetary term “talent.” But I think he was using it as a metaphor. Gold and silver are not the heavenly treasures. They get tarnished with use and time. The master didn’t want material possessions managed for their increase.
When the master rewarded the good servants, he offered them what he treasured. “Share in my ‘joy.’” Joy is one of the treasures of the Master. Peace is another. Love. Kindness. Patience. Hope. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. These are the treasures/talents of the heavens that are given to us today.
If God blesses you with the treasures of peace and love in your life, you are to increase that peace and love in his service by increasing peace and joy in your neighbor. “What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”
If God has given you hope, patience, and kindness, the expectation is that you will share it and cause it to increase in others.
So many talents given by the Master are buried in the ground. You and I, like Adam, are made from the clay of the ground. A talent buried in the ground is one that has been used for selfish purposes rather than shared with the world.
When we use the talents we’ve been given for our good alone, the blessings are not multiplied. Instead of living in the joy the Master wants for us, we are destined to live in the worry and troubles of the world…in outer darkness, unable to see God’s abundance and goodness, where there is weeping (sorrow) and gnashing of teeth (anger).
What kind of ‘day of the Lord’ do you want today? It will depend upon where you invest the treasures God has given you.
All Jesus’s parables in this run are about “the day of the Lord” and the kingdom of heaven. They are as near as the next thing you do.
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My new and short ebook, How to Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart and Change Your Life Forever will be released on Nov. 23! I would be honored if you would pre-order it NOW for 99 cents (for reasons explained in a previous post) and it will be delivered to your Kindle or ereader on the 23rd.
You can also pre-order it for any ereader at a site called Smashwords. Thanks.