With our limited perspective of things it’s very easy to look at the circumstances of our lives and assume we know what’s happening on the God side of things. When things are going well we tend to think that God must be happy with us when the reality may be that he is patiently waiting for us to repent of something we aren’t dealing with. When things are going poorly we tend to think that God is unhappy or angry with us, when the reality may be that he is testing us like He was testing Job. Sometimes it can feel like God is flat out against us, but the exact opposite is true. We need to take care not to jump to conclusions, to try and read the signs of our circumstances. Don’t read the signs, read the word and take comfort in it.
Amidst all of the judgement Zephaniah is talking about there will be those who have a detached view of God. Their version of God doesn’t directly interact with this world. He’s out there, somewhere. There are those today who hold a similar view of one flavor or another. Even in the midst of God taking action people will not notice it or see it as such. When one has a view of God that he is detached from this world it makes it that much easier to be detached from God. There is no responsibility, no accountability, and sadly no relationship. “God is there, I’m here, and that’s OK.” But that isn’t what God wants.
Whether or not we see it as such God does act in this world. He acts both in His sovereignty and He acts according to our choices and actions. His greatest interaction, both in sovereignty and in response to human will, was Jesus on the cross. Paul tells us He was slain from the foundations of the world, yet He put on a human suit and willingly laid His life down for us in space and time.
The Lord absolutely does good and ill. He justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies those who call upon Him. He righteously judges those who reject HIs grace. Not just because they reject His grace, but because they have chosen to not be with Him in eternity. Should God force people to be with Him who don’t want to be with Him? Our God is a God of action. No question about it.
2 Peter 3:4
There are two (if not more) ways in which this question could be taken. Both ways are asked today. The question is, “Where is the promise of His coming?”
The most common way, and indeed the way is is meant in this passage, has to do with God taking so long to fulfill the promise of his coming and judgment. The implication is that God isn’t there, He isn’t real, if He were real he would have done something by now. There is a mocking tone involved similar to that of the Pharisees when Jesus was on the cross. “If He is the son of God let Him take Himself down.” It’s a joke.
The other way in which this question can be and has been asked is very sincere. People want justice. There is so much injustice in the world and they wonder why God hasn’t done anything about it. “Where is the promise of His coming? This is taking too long. God isn’t just, He isn’t fair. I don’t want to believe in a God like that so I’m not going to.” This is how many Jews have reacted to the Holocaust during World War 2.
In either case the answer to the issue is the same. They overlook the word of God. They overlook the patience, mercy, and grace of God. He is giving generations of people time to repent, to get right with Him. Justice is coming. Judgment and reward are coming. God’s timing is perfect. Wait on Him. Trust in Him.