God is angry, wrathful, and jealous. These aren’t attributes we often think about because they make us uncomfortable, but they’re important characteristics of God’s holiness. Imagine God’s holiness in the midst of sin if he wasn’t wrathful against it. Consider the love of God if he was not angry about injustice. How could anyone imagine that God truly wants what is best for his children if he isn’t jealous of our worship when it is instead given to idols. Remember, God’s passions and emotions are unchanging because they are absolutely perfect – his love doesn’t wax and wane depending on his mood; and his anger doesn’t flare up simply because he’s been offended.
Zephaniah’s message is primarily centered around “the Day of the LORD.” This is the day when God’s anger and wrath will be poured out on all creation. It will be a day of holy justice upon all evil and sin in the world. Not only will the effects of sin be judged, but sinners will stand before the LORD in judgment as well. Whereas Judah was tempted to consider the Day of the LORD as a day of judgment for other nations while they enjoyed rescue, Zephaniah assures Judah they will also endure judgment.
The primary command for God’s people is this: “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” (2:3). Salvation is secured for those who trust in God and live in repentance. As Jesus said, “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). He also said, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up” (John 6:44). Truly, those who seek God find Jesus, and those who trust in Jesus are hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord, for Jesus has already satisfied the wrath of God on the cross.
Through Christ, all those who trust in his atoning death and physical resurrection will be saved and Zephaniah 3:17 presents one of the most vivid images of future glory: “he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” He does not rejoice over his children with reluctance, but “with loud singing” because victory over the enemy has been completely fulfilled. The perfect love of God and his perfect wrath were poured out in full on the cross in order that his children would be hidden, safely, on the Day of the LORD.