The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness— a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because you have sinned against the Lord . Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. 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 jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth. – Zephaniah 1: 14-18
I was going to entitle this post “a day of clouds” but it turns out I already have a post by that name from Ezekiel (Ezekiel 30: 1-19) so I chose the entire phrase “a day of clouds and blackness”. In Ezekiel the “doom” was coming from Egypt and I concluded that one’s view of “the clouds” depends somewhat on where one is standing relative to God.
In today’s passage the “doom” appears to be coming from Babylon and it is being visited on all those who have “sinned against the Lord”, although the wrath being described here sounds more global in scope, “In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth”. Either way its bad.
The outlook here is pretty bleak. God indicates He will “bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind…Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. The blindness I get and maybe it is not so different from the blindness we experience everyday as “cave dwellers” when we try to approach the light. The other part of the description contains two murky metaphors to be sure.
What does it mean for “blood to be poured out like dust”. I think of dust as soil or dirt without water. I guess in a sense that is what we all are when we are separated from our “water source“, God, dust without water. So what God is saying here is that this calamity will come and the people who do not seek God, their blood will be poured out like dust. The people who do turn back to God and seek Him would presumably have access to the spring of Living Water that God provides and regardless of the consequences for their earthly vessel their souls would be hydrated and poured out to be with God.
The second metaphor is even more bizarre, “entrails like dung”. Entrails have come up a few times along my float so far. Most notably in Leviticus 1:5-13 when God speaks about entrails and animal legs. My impression of entrails is they are something best left where it is serving a purpose like in the body of the owner. So to take something that is already pretty gross and say that it is filled with something equally gross, “dung” paints a pretty bleak picture for those who separate themselves from God by choice.
Unfortunately, this particular passage ends without much hope or resolution except the implicit hope that is in us through choosing not to be “dust” by planting ourselves near the One River that can keep us from becoming “dusty”.
Prayer: God this passage paints a bleak picture of our separation from You. Help us to seek You so we do not become dusty and dry.