Seek the Lord all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.
- Zephaniah 2:3
The prophet Zephaniah’s name literally means “The Lord hides.” The message he brings to Judah was one of restoration after the repentance of sins and the forgiveness of the Lord. This message isn’t unique to Zephaniah. Most of the prophets brought a similar message. The part of Zephaniah’s message that stands out in this verse is the reference to his own name – the Lord hides. This again isn’t something unique to Zephaniah. God often named his prophets in line with the message he was going to give them to proclaim to the people. But I saw something in Zephaniah that set my heart on fire. I saw something in Zephaniah that perhaps the apostle Paul also saw one night as he was meditating on this book. I saw that the Lord hides those who are his with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This verse has always been beautiful to me. Just the language of it is beautiful enough but the truth it proclaims is utterly amazing. Paul is telling the Colossians, and us today, that through faith in Christ, the most important death of our lives has already come and since we died with Christ on the cross, we now have a life that is hidden with Christ in God. In other words, we have union with Christ through the death and resurrection of the sinless savior so that when judgment comes, we are hidden in the righteousness of Jesus. We have nothing to fear because the Lord is smiling upon us with the same smile he gives to his Son.
In my Bible, when studying the book of Zephaniah about a year ago, I boxed in the phrase, “perhaps you may be hidden” and put next to it the word “grace” and Col. 3:3. I remember seeing the verse and immediately jumping in my mind to Colossians 3:3. But, it wasn’t until studying it again the other day that I really connected the two. It came upon me like a storm in the night; I couldn’t see it coming but could feel the rumblings from afar. That’s one of the wonderful things about the Bible. You can just be reading along then Bam! You’re in the middle of the most wonderful storm with the thunderous word of God rattling through your bones. You feel as if you’ve just rediscovered him and your love and affections for him grow strong. You see him for who he is. He reveals himself to you.
I saw that night the grace of the Lord. Zephaniah’s message in this part of his book is a proclamation to Judah that there is still hope of restoration through repentance if they will just admit their sin and turn to God for healing. The promise from the Lord is that if they turn to him in repentance, they will be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.
This day of the anger of the Lord is not something you want to see. We saw what the anger of the Lord did to Jesus. It crucified him. It made him suffer. It hurt him beyond all belief. It was devastating. That day is not something anyone will want to endure, but yet some will have to because of their unrepentant heart. For those who repent and turn to God in faith, however, this wrath of the Lord is taken away. It’s instead put on Christ. That’s why Paul can say, along with Zephaniah, that through the death of Christ we can be hidden with him in God. Through his death we have life. Through his death we have justification. Through his death we are hidden from the wrath and anger of God. It cannot touch us. Not because we’ve hidden ourselves but because God himself has hidden us. He’s done it out of love. He’s done it in grace. We, of course, deserve all the punishment we have coming for us. But Jesus came so that God could say in bold letters through the mouth of Paul the same message that Zephaniah, that bold prophet, spoke so many years before. “The Lord will hide you in his perfect Son. You have nothing to fear because you fear the Lord. He loves you and he’s going to show you by removing your sins and setting you free.”
The end of Zephaniah bursts forth in proclamation of joy in the midst of the Lord. It’s one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. For those in Christ, we will find ourselves in the midst of the Lord – with Christ in God – and we will find nothing awaits us there but unending joy. Zephaniah’s message is one that says, “Stop trying to make it your own way. Your sin is messing it up. Hide yourself in God who takes away sin.” Perhaps what you and I need to do is stop trying to stand out and start hiding ourselves in Christ. Only in that hidden-ness is there true joy.