Zephaniah – Chapter 3

Jerusalem’s Injustice

Verse 1 – Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city!

After predicting the destruction of the surrounding nations, Zephaniah spoke of Jerusalem’s sin. The city of God and God’s people had become defiled. The people had pretended to worship God, but in their hearts were complacent and rejected God. They no longer cared about the consequences of turning away from God.

Verse 2 – She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God.

God’s people had become so proud that they refused to listen to correction from God.

Verse 3 – Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning.

Verse 4 – Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

God held the rulers responsible for polluting the people. Leaders are held accountable to God for what hey teach, leading by example.

Verse 5 – The LORD is righteous, He is in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.

This verse perfectly describes our leaders in Washington today. Time and again some are caught in out right lies, and there is no shame! They continue to collect huge salaries and all the benefits of holding their seat to represent the American people. No one goes to jail for the crimes they commit. They continue to make laws contrary to God’s laws and don’t follow the laws they make themselves. They are is no difference in what they do and what Jerusalem was doing back them. There will be judgment and there will be punishment, God help them.

Verse 6 – “I have cut off nations, their fortress are devastated; I have made their streets desolate, with none passing by. Their cities are destroyed; there is no one, no inhabitant.

Verse 7 – I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, you will receive instruction’ – so that her dwelling would not be cut off, despite everything for which I punished her. But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.

The more God punished the Israelites for their sin, the more they sinned. Watch out when you continue in your sin, your heart will grow hard against the things of God. It will become callous.

Verse 8 – “Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.

There is coming a time, when God will judge all people according to their works (Revelation 20:12). We should never try to avenge ourselves, God’s justice will come.

Verse 9 – “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord. God will purify our speech, so that we all speak the same glorifying language. We will all worship Him in unison.

Verse 10 – From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.

Verse 11 – In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgressed against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain.

Verse 12 – I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Verse 13 – The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”

The Promise of Restoration

Verse 14 – Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Verse 15 – The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.

Verse 16 – In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak.

Verse 17 – The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Verse 18 – “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden.

Verse 19 – Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame.

Verse 20 – At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” says the LORD.

The world is not always and forever, be filled with evil. There will be a day when all of Israel’s enemies will be destroyed and our LORD comes to dwell among us. Zephaniah points out that gladness results when we allow God to be with us. We do that by faithfully following Him.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Zephaniah – Chapter 2

Call to Repentance

Verse 1 – Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O understand nation,

Verse 2 – before the decree is issued, before the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you!

Verse 3 – Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.

The Old Testament prophets announced news of destruction, but they also offered God’s mercy, the only way of escaping by turning back to God and stop sinning.

Verse 4 – For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted.

These four cities mentioned here were the cities of Philistine, the nation southwest of Judah, age-old enemies of Israel from the days of Joshua. They were known for their cruelty and their constant taunting of Israel. These were four of the five major cities. The fifth was Gath which had probably already been destroyed.

Verse 5 – Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: “I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant.”

Verse 6 – The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks.

Verse 7 – The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed their flocks there; in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God shall intervene for them, and return their captives.

All though God said He would destroy Judah, He would save a remnant, a people who remained faithful to Him. These were the ones that would return from exile.

Verse 8 – “I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the reveling of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached MY people, and made arrogant threats against their borders.

Verse 9 – Therefore, as I live, says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah – overrun with weeds and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation; the residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them.”

This remnant was primarily of Judah and ultimately of all Israel. The Lord would give this remnant the territory of other nations to them, reversing the curse of Deuteronomy 28:62-66.

Verse 10 – This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts.

Verse 11 – 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.

The nations of Moab and Ammon trace their roots to Lot’s incest with his daughters after escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was going to destroy these two cities exactly like He did Sodom and Gomorrah. When we are mocked and ridiculed for our faith, remember, God hears and will defend those that stay faithful to Him.

Verse 12 – “You Ethiopians also, you shall be slain by My sword.”

Which were slain when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, with which Ethiopia were allies.

Verse 13 – And He will stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness.

Just as Zephaniah predicted, Nineveh was wiped out in 612 B.C. by the Babylonians, who would become the next world power.

Verse 14 – The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern (hedge hog) shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; their voice shall be at the threshold; for He will lay bare the cedar work.

Verse 15 – This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, “I am it, and there is none besides me.” How has she become desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist.

The destruction of this great city, Nineveh, was like if we predicted the destruction of Tokyo, Moscow, or New York. They were so rich in culture, technology, and beauty, that they thought it could never happen to them. However, if you will remember, Nineveh had repented for a time after Jonah preached and God had prospered them.

Please don’t ever forget where your blessing come from. I’ve seen this happen to so many when they live in favor and blessings and then soon forget where it all came from. Everything we have is because God chose to allow us to possess it. Arrogance and the spirit of pride are not a characteristic of one of God’s children!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Zephaniah – Chapter 1

Introduction:

Zephaniah focuses on the need to live in righteousness before God. Zephaniah hammers home the message repeatedly that the day of the Lord, judgment day, is coming. Zephaniah traces his lineage back four generations to Hezekiah. If Zephaniah was the great-great-grandson of the godly King Hezekiah, then he was the only prophet with royal descent.

Zephaniah tells the doom of Nineveh, which happened in 625 B.C. His prophecy can be dated between 640 and 612 B.C.

Verse 1 – The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, the king of Judah.

Josiah followed God during his reign of Judah. The Book of the Law was discovered in the temple and after reading it, Josiah began a great religious revival in Judah (2 Kings 22:1-23;25). Although the revival turned the nation back to God, it did not fully eliminate idolatry and lasted only a short time. Twelve years after Josiah’s death, Judah was invaded by Babylon.

Verse 2 – “I will utterly consume all things from the face of the land,” says the Lord;

Verse 3 – “I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the Lord.

Verse 4 – “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests –

When Israel had entered the promise land, they had never fully wiped out the idols of Canaan. Before long they began to worship their pagan idols as if they were their own god. Their chief god was Baal.

Verse 5 – Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom;

Verse 6 – Those who have turned back from following the Lord, and have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.”

Milcom was more likely the Ammonite god, interchangeable with Molech.

Re-read these verses again. Understand what the people were doing. They were mixing worshiping Yahweh with these pagan gods. They use to follow God, but had learned some new thing and mixed it in their worship.

What do we call someone who “use to follow God but doesn’t anymore?” A backslider. What do you think happens to a backslider when they refuse to turn back to God? They do not go unpunished.

Verse 7 – Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.

A day of judgment and a great slaughter occurred during the invasion of the Babylonians.

Verse 8 – “And it shall be, in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.

Verse 9 – In the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold, who fill their master’s houses with violence and deceit.

This foreign apparel was forbidden by law. For instance, men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa, and heathen usage in the worship of Mars and Venus (Deuteronomy 22:5). By dong this, they showed a desire to please these foreign gods. God hated it!

Verse 10 – “And there shall be on that day,” says the LORD, “The sound of a mournful cry form the Fish Gate, a wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills.

Let me insert a bit of trivia here: I’ve noticed that Zephaniah uses all capitals when he says “LORD” which reflects the original term “Yhwh (Yahweh).” “LORD” is the English rendition of the Hebrew “Adonai.” The Jews considered “Yhwh” so sacred, they did not pronounce it.

Verse 11 – Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off.

Verse 12 – “And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.’

Verse 13 – Therefore their goods shall become booty, and their houses a desolation; they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”

Verse 14 – The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.

Some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather, existing to only grant wishes. The don’t believe He is All Powerful and that  there is a coming judgment. However, a day will come for judgment for those who are content to live in their sin, indifferent to Him, or unconcerned about justice. When people are indifferent to God, they seem to think He is indifferent to them, not so.

Verse 15 – That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

Verse 16 – a day of trumpet and alarm against fortified cities and against the high towers.

Just as sure as the Babylonians invaded Judah, a day of the LORD is coming again (Revelation 20:12-15). God’s final day of judgment is sure, but so is His ability to save. To be spared from this terrible judgment, recognize that you have sinned, if not saved already, that sin will bring His judgment, that you cannot save yourself, and that God alone can save you.

Verse 17 – “I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall pour out like dust, and their flesh like refuse.”

Verse 18 – Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.

The righteous eagerly await “The Day of the LORD,” but the unrighteous don’t even think about it. They never consider the things of God. Every prophecy, every prediction that has been written in God’s word, either has come to pass or will in the future. The Day of the LORD will be a terrible day and only those in Christ will be saved!