TODAY’S READING: Zephaniah
Missions is most simply cross-cultural evangelism with a focus on where the gospel has not gone. Since good news must often indeed rectify bad news, the gospel message is both warning and invitation. We must indeed lift our voices and invite/warn all peoples to flee the wrath to come. Zephaniah talks explicitly about the day of wrath, trouble, distress, devastation, desolation, darkness, and gloominess (Zeph. 1:15). All this in reference to the great day of the Lord, a day that is near and hastens quickly upon us. Zephaniah warns all nations, including Gaza, Palestine, Jordan, Sudanese, and Iraqis (2:4–5, 8, 12–13), that they must either worship the God of Israel or perish. In fact, Zephaniah warns that “the Lord will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations” (v. 11). Zephaniah, like all the Bible, is at its core a missionary book. All nations will indeed worship Jehovah. He will indeed be glorified by every people—it’s just a matter of how and when. God will indeed gather all the nations either for the fire of His wrath or for their restoration to Himself, so that with a pure language they may all call upon the name of the Lord. From beyond the rivers of Sudan, God’s worshipers shall come.
In essence, all of history is moving towards the great and terrible day of the Lord, the day when King Jesus comes back in glory to judge the living and the dead. Nothing really matters other than being on the right side of His wrath on that day, mercifully covered from what we deserve by His precious atoning blood. On that day, when the powerful presence of God is released unrestrained on all creation, it will be a day beyond all days—a day unlike any we have ever seen on earth. There have been little foretastes of the power and glory. One such glimpse of the wonder and power of that day happened at a little mission in Los Angeles in 1914 during a three-year revival meeting led by William Seymour, a humble African American preacher. Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the revival whose result was to launch a great missionary movement.
Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there. The services ran almost continuously. Seeking souls could be found under the power almost any hour of the day or night. The place was never closed or empty. The people came to meet God—He was always there. Hence a continuous meeting. The meeting did not depend on the human leader. God’s presence became more and more wonderful. In that old building, with its low rafters and bare floors, God broke strong men and women to pieces, and put them together again for his glory. It was a tremendous overhauling process. Pride and self-assertion, self-importance, and self-esteem could not survive there. The religious ego preached its own funeral sermon quickly…God was in His holy temple. It was for man to keep silent.
On that day, there will not be much to say. God will be in His holy temple and all men from all peoples will fall prostrate—some in agony over their folly, some in wonder at their undeserved redemption. In this day, then, we must open our missionary mouths to both invite and warn all peoples, including Mauritanians, about the great and terrible day of the Lord.
 Frank Bartleman. Azusa Street: The Roots of Modern Day Pentecost. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House. 1982. 56, 58.