HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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The Book of Zephaniah
In this chapter the character of the city of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants in general is mentioned. The hardness, impenitence and shamelessness of this people, are exposed. The prophet reproves Jerusalem, and all her guides and rulers, for their stubborn perseverance in impiety, despite all the warnings and corrections that they had received from God.
The first eight verses of this chapter conclude this section, which deals with the judgment of the Earth and of all nations. Zephaniah speaks of the harsh judgment of God upon His people. This is probably the strongest language you will find in the Scriptures until you come to the language which the Lord Jesus used in Matthew 23. If you will read that passage in connection with this chapter, you will see that the Lord Jesus topped even Zephaniah in the extreme language of judgment, which He used. It should make you . . . and me, sit up and take notice of what is said!
We saw in chapter 2 that the judgment of God is worldwide. It includes every nation on the Earth. In verses 1-8 of this chapter, God keeps speaking of the judgment that is coming upon His people, and He is VERY specific. He reveals that the light which a person has will determine the extent of their judgment . . . in other words, your responsibility is measured by the privilege and knowledge that you have. If you are sitting in a Bible-believing church today, hearing the Gospel but doing nothing about it, and keep on in sin, woe be unto you! My friend, do NOT turn your back on the Word of God!
Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! (KJV)
Woe to her that is filthy and polluted . . . the prophet has shown us Nineveh in utter ruin because of her sins. Now Zephaniah brings us the prospect of what would come upon Jerusalem, which for so long was full of sin. "Filthy" means loathsome to Almighty God in her sins; sins so foul and vile, and so abominable to God. Cities are often likened to a wicked woman, who is branded for her immorality. Woe to Jerusalem! Jerusalem is doomed! That corrupt, rebellious city that oppresses its own people (Jer.22:3). "Polluted" means dirty, contaminated and impure. Jerusalem is a city that did nothing but oppress (Jer. 6:6; Eze. 22:1-31). Polluted refers to her inward moral filth, in spite of all her outward ceremonial purity, so much like SO many today!
Jerusalem was the city where the temple of God was located. The priests were there, and the scribes who had the Word of God were there. When wise men came from the east, seeking the King of the Jews (Mat.2:1), the scribes had no problem in telling them where the Messiah was to be born, but they did NOT have any interest in finding out IF the wise men had any valid information about the Messiah.
The scribes knew the letter of the Law, but THAT is all they knew. They did NOT know the Author of the Book, and they were far, far away from Him. God's condemnation of Jerusalem is on the basis of all the light that they had. Therefore, judgment on Jerusalem will be harsher than any other city.
God is not through with His judgment; He goes on to spell out their sin
Zephaniah 3:2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. (KJV)
She obeyed not the voice . . . Jerusalem did NOT obey the Law, her prophets or her faithful priests. It seems she did have some priests who were faithful to God, but they were few and far between. The priests in general, did NOT obey God, Who by His grace and mercy crying out to them, warning, inviting, persuading them to return. The prophets warned Jerusalem of her sins and of her ruin. The inhabitants of Jerusalem did NOT listen to the voice of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who gave notice of His coming; nor to the voice of Christ Himself, who stretched out His Hand to a disobedient and disagreeable people; nor to the voice of His apostles, whose doctrines they contradicted and blasphemed; and put away the Word of God from them, thereby judging themselves unworthy of eternal life.
She received not correction . . . Jerusalem did NOT learn, would NOT be instructed. She hated and refused instruction (Ps. 50:17; Pro. 5:12-13; 13:18). She received not doctrine: the doctrine of baptism, repentance and remission of sins, preached by John; but rejected the counsel of God by Christ Himself against themselves (Luke 7:31-35), nor the doctrine and instruction of Christ and His apostles, though of more worth than gold and silver (Ps.119:72; Pro.3:13-16). Instead they slighted and despised it, and rejected it with contempt, like millions today!
She trusted not in the Lord . . . Jerusalem put her confidence in Egypt and Asshur, in any carnal refuges, rather than in her God.
She drew not near to her God . . . when Jerusalem backslid, she did not return; when in distress, she did not seek Him, did not draw near to Him with prayer. It is like that today, people are NOT drawing near to God, nor running to God; they are running away from Him as fast as they can. What a sad picture this is of the city of Jerusalem!
Zephaniah 3:3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. (KJV)
Her princes within her are roaring lions . . . her princes were persons of authority under the king, chief officers in civil matters. They were members of the sanhedrim; the princes of the Jewish world, that crucified the Lord of glory; and who gaped upon Him with their mouths like ravening and roaring lions, as is foretold they should (Ps.22:12-13), and who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ; trying to frighten and deter them from preaching in His Name, and from making a profession of Him (1 Cor.2:8; Acts 4:5-6,18; 5:27-28).
"Roaring lions" . . . which hunt for prey, threatening, tearing or devouring, like the Assyrian princes (Nah.2:11-12). Such were the princes in Judah and Jerusalem.
Her judges are evening wolves . . . elders of cities, magistrates of lower rank; or maybe the sanhedrim. Her judges were cruel, voracious, never satisfied. Wolves were especially more ravenous in the evening, having had no food all day; not daring to go abroad in the daytime to seek their prey (Jer.5:6; Hab.1:8). Such were covetous judges in Christ's time, who feared not God, nor regarded men (Luke 18:2). Such were the judges, hungry and greedy after gifts and bribes to pervert judgment, and to devour the poor, the widow, and the fatherless, on whom they had no mercy. Just like today!
They gnaw not the bones till the morrow . . . they leave not the bones till the morning, as some interpret this; they are so hungry, that they eat up everything all at once, leaving nothing for the next day; which expresses the horrible greediness of these judges. Cruel judges are compared to evening wolves!
Many who go into office in our country, promise to help us, but they NEVER do help us! But rest assured . . . they certainly help themselves! By the time they leave office, they are millionaires over and over again! My friend . . . THIS shall be judged by the Almighty! Judah was a nation just like ours . . . they had the Word of God. That which is said of Jerusalem can apply to us also. God shall judge SIN! Count on it!
Zephaniah 3:4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. (KJV)
Her prophets are light and treacherous persons . . . Her prophets, by unwarranted practice were false prophets which Judah should have reproved (1 Ki. 22:13; Isa. 30:9-10). These seem to be like the lawyers spoken of in the New Testament, who were supposed to interpret the law to the people. They were "light" men, good for nothing, of no worth and value; light in knowledge, empty headed men, that had no substantial knowledge. These were "treacherous" to God and to His truths (Jer. 23:32; Eze. 22:28), and to the souls of men, for they took away the key of knowledge from them (Mat.16:19); and particularly were so to Christ, of whom they were the betrayers and murderers, delivering Him up into the hands of the Gentiles to be scourged and crucified (Mat.20:18).
Her priests have polluted the sanctuary . . . priests came from the house of Levi, of the stock of Aaron, and they have polluted the sanctuary. They were bound by office to keep the sanctuary holy, but instead they defiled it and all that was holy. They polluted the sanctuary (the temple of God) by selling in it different things, thus making it a den of thieves, which once was called a house of prayer (Mat.21:12-13). And by denying, blaspheming and reproaching our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the sanctuary or temple was a "type" and by shedding His precious Blood (1 Pet.1:19-20).
They have done violence to the law . . . I think that "the law" here means the total Word of God. They were twisting it by perverse interpretation to what best served a corrupt mind . . . like multitudes do today. SO many "wolves in sheeps' clothing" (Mat.7:15), bringing "damnable heresies" (2 Pet.2:1), and bringing you "another gospel" and "another Jesus" (2 Cor.11:4). BEWARE!!! They will take you to HELL with them!
She trusted not in the Lord . . . Jerusalem put her confidence in Egypt and Asshur, in any carnal refuges, rather than in her God.
She drew not near to her God . . . when Jerusalem backslid, she did NOT return to God, when in distress, she did not seek Him, did not draw near to Him with prayer. It is like that today, people are NOT drawing near to God, nor running to God; they are running away from Him as fast as they can. What a picture this is of the city of Jerusalem!
Zephaniah 3:5 The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. (KJV)
The just Lord is in the midst thereof . . . although unjust princes, judges, prophets and priests do NOT think so, the Lord who IS just, and is in the midst of them, and He SEES all, and He shall condemn their violence and injustice, just as He will in today's world. I cannot believe how utterly dense some people are! They simply think that they can get by with their immorality and rejection of Almighty God. My friend, He is sovereign as Lord, and He is just as Judge. On Judgment Day, you will NOT be able to find a hiding place, anywhere! (Rev. 6:16). The Lord is in their midst: (Zep.3:15,17; Deut.23:14; Isa.12:6; Eze.48:35; Mic.3:11; Zec.2:5).
He will not do iniquity . . . this speaks of Christ (God), Who was perfectly holy in His nature, He was harmless in His life; He knew NO sin; He did NO violence, NO guile was found in Him; He was NOT guilty of ANY sin against God, nor did He do any injury or violence to any person. He should have been imitated by the men of the age in which He lived, as well as by us today; and He should have been valued and esteemed, and not hated and vilified as He was, as if He had been the worst of men. Jesus did NO iniquity, ever! (Isa.53:9; 2 Cor.5:21; Heb.4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet.2:22-23). Jesus; just and righteous: (Deut.32:4; Ps.99:3-4; 145:17; Ecc.3:16-17; Isa.45:21; Hab.1:3; Zec.9:9; Rom.3:26; 1 Pet.1:17)
Every morning doth he bring his judgment to light . . . Jesus brought the doctrine of the Gospel in the clearest light, and preached continually, very early in the morning, when the people came to hear Him in the temple, and continued all the day; "He wakeneth morning by morning" to this service, as was predicted of Him (Isa. 1:4; 50:4-7; Luke 21:37-38). Every morning: (Isa.28:19; 33:2; 50:4; Jer.21:12; Lam.3:23).
Not a day passes that we do not see His goodness to righteous men, and His vengeance on the wicked. Consider how God controls natural events: floods in the east, drought in the west, earthquakes where there were none before, tornadoes when tornado season is over, etc. See our articles: . . .
He faileth not . . . in the work of preaching the Word, with the great authority and persistence. Christ Jesus NEVER Fails In His power or wisdom! Faileth not: (I Pet.1:5; 2 Cor.13:4; Jam.1:5; Rom.11:33; I Cor.1:30; Pro.2:6-9).
But the unjust knoweth no shame . . . unjust people means those who are disobedient to God, idolatrous, immoral, rebellious, wicked, simply evil in all their ways. These people want NO part of Christ or His Gospel, and reject Him completely. They live happily in sin with NO shame whatsoever! This went on in Zephaniah's time and it still goes on today. Judgment came to those people, and judgment SHALL come on ALL those who do so today as well. Judgment shall come: (Gen.18:25; Job 8:3; 34:10,17-21; Mat.25:31-46; Rev.20:11-15)
The wicked Jews proceeded impudently, without shame and without fear or correction of their lives. There is NO hope of better where is NO shame for any of their vile sins (Jer.3:1-3). Unjust people, who despise the character of Christ, and rejected His doctrine and miracles; even though there was nothing in His life or His ministry that could be blamed . . . yet these people were NOT ashamed of their sin and wickedness even when they were sharply reproved by Christ (Mat.23), and their errors and sins were exposed by Him . . . they were NOT ashamed because of the hardness and stubbornness of their hearts. The unjust simply continue on in sin with NO shame at all, and that is public knowledge . . . both then and NOW!
Remember . . . The just Lord is in the midst thereof . . . and He sees, marks down, and shall punish ALL wickedness everywhere!
In verses 6-8, we see the picture of the Great Tribulation period that IS coming in the future, the great Day of the Lord which Zephaniah has talked about. Zephaniah now moves away from speaking of the city of Jerusalem to talking about the nations of the world in the last days. This is Armageddon, which ends with the return of Christ to Earth (Zec.14:1-4; Rev.19:11-21).
Zephaniah 3:6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. (KJV)
I have cut off the nations . . . utterly destroyed them, just as the Philistines, Moabites, Ethiopians and Assyrians in the preceding chapters. All which were done before the Coming of Christ in the flesh (Isa.7:14; Mic.5:2; Mat.1:25; Luke 2:1-7); and by which instances the Jews should have taken warning, lest by their sins they should provoke the Lord to destroy their nation, city, and temple.
Their towers are desolate . . . towers were built on the walls of their cities, to defend them. These were demolished, and laid waste, and of no more use. "Their corners" were towers built on corners of walls. Some interpret this to mean their princes, nobles and great men who were destroyed (Zep.1:16; Zec.10:4). Are desolate . . . razed and demolished.
That none passeth by . . . God made their streets waste; He overthrew their houses, that there were no streets, so no one walked through them. Their cities, small or great are destroyed; taken, plundered, burnt and ruined.
So there is no man . . . they ALL fled or were killed; or starved or were swept away with disease, or carried into captivity . . . not one inhabitant was left in those places.
Zephaniah 3:7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings. (KJV)
I said, Surely thou wilt fear me . . . This is Almighty God speaking, as man would, through Zephaniah. "Surely O Jerusalem, you will fear Me, because of the many and terrible judgments I did to others in your sight." Surely the Jews would take notice of God's judgments executed on other nations, surely they will stand in awe of Him. Surely they would be afraid to offend Him, lest the same calamities should come upon them. But . . . did they fear God? It seems they did not use common sense, as so many millions today.
Thou wilt receive instruction . . . surely they will learn to do their duty. Surely they will avoid danger, and prevent it, by repenting of their sins, and mending their ways.
So their dwelling should not be cut off . . . surely they would stop their sin and listen to the prophet, so that their dwellings and villages should not be out off, sacked and burned.
Howsoever I punished them . . . IF they had bettered themselves, IF they had humbled and amended themselves, IF they had feared God . . . He would have spared, and NOT completely destroyed. A tremendous warning to us today!
But they rose early, and corrupted all their doings . . . instead of obedience to God, they grew worse and worse, more eager in the pursuit of their vile sinfulness. It was as if the day would be too short for their sins, so they rose early in the morning and corrupted their doings all the more, and when smitten they revolted all the more (Isa. 1:5). Instead of returning to God, they practiced every abomination.
My friend, God speaks to us today through Zephaniah! "Surely thou wilt fear me" . . . yet so very "few" fear Him! (Mat.7:13-14). After so many displays of His sovereign power and judgments in the past, it only makes sense to fear God! WHY don't people consider the Promises of God, to those who fear Him? (1 Sam.12:14; Ps.25:12-13; 31:19-20; 103:13; 147:11; Pro.1:7; Isa.50:10; Jer.5:22; Mal. 3:16; Luke 1:50; Acts 10:35).
Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. (KJV)
Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD . . . they were to expect the fulfillment of all God's Promises and threatenings: "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal.3:6). "Therefore," since they will NOT repent and be amended, and their sins grow worse and worse, they would "wait ye upon me," for I am resolved to do what I will do, and have set a day for it.
Until the day that I rise up to the prey . . . until God, as an enemy, rises up to destroy and take the spoil: they and their sins continue to be His enemies . . . but He shall by His judgments, raise up the Chaldeans, who shall rise up against them and destroy them. My friend, God will show Himself as an enemy to you IF you continue stubbornly in sin with NO regret, NO shame.
For my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms . . . God has determined to gather the nations, to assemble the kingdoms. God has determined, has a fixed purpose, one that He will NOT change. This Earth where we live is rapidly moving toward judgment. Although many do NOT believe it, THEY are moving to judgment. This judgment will start when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this Earth for His church (1 Thes.4:13-18). After all TRUE believers are removed, the Great Tribulation period begins. It shall end when He comes to establish His Kingdom on this Earth.
To pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger . . . not upon the nations and kingdoms assembled; but by them upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, against whom they would be gathered; who had corrupted their doings, and provoked the Lord to stir up and pour out all His wrath upon them, in utterly destroying their nation, city and temple: and the apostle, speaking of the same thing, at least of the beginning of it, calls it "wrath upon them to the uttermost" and which answers the expressions of the Lord's righteous anger, and all His fierce and fiery anger (1 Thes.2:16). "For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."
Because they made a constant progress in sin, they are said to fill it up; Fill ye up the measure of your fathers (Mat.23:32). For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. First they filled up their sin; treasured up wrath (Rom.2:5), then comes God's wrath, foretold by Daniel (Dan.9:27) and by our Saviour (Mat.23:37-38).
For all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy . . . the whole land of Judea and its inhabitants. The same phrase is used of the destruction of it by the Babylonians (Zep.1:18) and which shows, that not that destruction, but the destruction by the Romans, is here meant. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, prophesied by Jesus (Mat.24:1-2); which took place a few years after Christ's resurrection from the dead, predicted in the beginning of this verse (Zep.3:8); by which we may see the connection of things in this prophecy.
Zephaniah now goes from the darkness of God's judgment, to the day when blessings are in store. The horrid storm is over in the words of Zephaniah. He had opened his little Book with dark and ominous rumblings of judgment. The first part of this chapter, which deals with the judgment of Jerusalem, is almost scary to read. He foresees the Great Tribulation when God will judge all nations . . . when they are brought up against Jerusalem in that last day (Zech. 14:1-4; Rev.19:11-21). Zephaniah shows us two kinds of judgment: God's judgment of His own people, which is always chastisement. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth..." (Heb. 12:6-7). God always disciplines His people, be they Jews, or His "born again" children (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8). If God does not chastise you, then you do NOT belong to Him (Heb.12:8).
God also must judge the unbelieving world, those who reject Him and His Holy Word. Zephaniah places the picture of judgment before us in this little Book. Someday, in the not too distant future, Judgment Day will come for lost mankind (Dan 12:1-2; Rev.20:11-15). God will restore His children, but there will be NO second chance for those who reject Christ.
Judgments Removed; The Kingdom Established (3:9-20)
Zephaniah 3:9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. (KJV)
For then will I turn to the people a pure language . . . changing their impure language, to one that I will give to them again, a pure language (1 Sam.10:9). The confusion of languages was the penalty of sin at Babel (Gen.11:1-9). It certainly was rebellion against God's will. Some think an "earnest" of the removal of this penalty was the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:6-13). If that be so, the full restoration of the earth's unity of language and worship has not yet come, and is connected with the restoration of the Jews, to be followed by the conversion of the world (Isa. 19:18; Zec. 14:9; Rom. 15:6) "with one mind and one mouth glorify God." God will give them a pure way of worshipping Him and giving a purified heart (Eze 11:17-20; 36:26).
Today among Jews, there is the resurrection of the Hebrew language as the tongue in the homes and in the schools. Hebrew is being realized and accepted to a considerable degree.
The Gentiles' lips are considered impure because of calling on idols and dishonoring God (Ps.16:4; Hos. 2:17). Whether Hebrew shall be the one universal language or not, the God of the Hebrews shall be the one and only object of worship. Until the Holy Spirit purify the lips, NO one can rightly call upon God (Isa. 6:5-7). Jeremiah 31:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness. (KJV)
That they may all call upon the name of the LORD . . . the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached at or about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This was when the Jews, both in their own land, and in the Gentile world would have it first preached to them, but would reject it.
It was after Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the complete rejection of the Gospel by the Jews; that for many hundreds of years the Lord took NO notice of them. He winked at the times of their ignorance (Acts 17:30-32); sent NO prophet to them, and NO message by anyone to instruct them.
But now, He sends His Gospel to them . . . and my friend . . . the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a "pure language" of love, grace and mercy; of peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation! Only the TRUE Gospel (2 Cor.11:4) can encourage souls to believe in Christ for all the above! The Gospel is "pure" speech, pure language, pure doctrine, taken from the pure and very sacred Scriptures. It is free from any deception, error, filth or impurity of any kind!
The TRUE Gospel promotes love of God and our fellow man (Mat.22:37-40), and purity of heart and lifestyle. There is NOTHING more valuable than the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is far more valuable than gold or silver, pearls or precious stones. Its treasure CANNOT be estimated . . . because the riches of Christ are unsearchable (Ps.145:3; Rom.11:33; Eph.3:8).
The commission of Christ, before His return to Heaven, was ordered by Him, to be taken to ALl nations (Mat.28:19-20). . . by His disciples then and NOW! It is our DUTY! It is a COMMAND from Christ, to us!
To serve him with one consent . . . "one consent" is a symbol of a yoke, or burden, carried between two (Num. 13:23); helping one another with a joint effort. If one of the two bearers fall, the burden would fall to the Earth. Christ's rule is called a burden (Mat. 11:30; Acts 15:28; Rev. 2:24). 2 Cor. 6:14-15 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (KJV) . . . There will be NO rebellion against God in that day.
Zephaniah 3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. (KJV)
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia . . . the Israelites are meant, God's dispersed people. "The rivers of Ethiopia" are those which enclose it on the north. Ethiopia is spoken of in prophecy (Ps.68:31; 87:4; Eze.30:4-9; Dan.11:43; Nah.3:8-10; Hab.3:7; Zep.2:12).
My suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed . . . "My dispersed" is the praying remnant of the scattered Jews that shall return to their own land, and bring an offering unto the Lord (Isa.60:6-7). They shall bring God an offering; themselves as an offering to the Lord, souls and bodies (Rom.12:1), with all other spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and well doing; and likewise such persons that they may be the instruments of the conversion of, called the offering of the Gentiles (Rom.15:16).
The daughter of my dispersed . . . this explains who the suppliant is; the praying remnant of the scattered Jews, who had gotten into those parts of Arabia that were coasting along the rivers which divided Ethiopia Cusaea from the rest of Arabia. The ten tribes are mentioned as being scattered (1 Pet.1:1; 5:13; Isa. 11:11). The restoration under Cyrus of the Jews transported under Pharaoh-necho to Egypt and Ethiopia, was a start of the future restoration under Christ.
Shall bring mine offering . . . shall return to their land and bring themselves an offering unto the Lord, which was done when Cyrus, together with these Ethiopians, procured their favor for the dispersed Jews, that they might return to Jerusalem, meet their captive brethren, and offer a gift to God (Ps.116:17-19; 119:108; Isa.45:17; 56:7; 60:7; Jer.33:11; Joel 2:12-14; Mal. 3:4; Rom.12:1).
The blessings promised in this and Zephaniah 3:9-10,19 are the immediate results of the punishment inflicted upon the nations, mentioned in Zep. 3:8.
Zephaniah 3:11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. (KJV)
In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings . . . WHY? Because in that day, people will NOT continue in vile sin that so utterly disgusts God. They will have repented of it all, and forsaken it! God will have forgiven, blotted out, covered and remembered it no more (Heb.8:12; 10:17). They will not be charged with sin, condemned for sin, or be confounded before God on account of sin (Eze.16:62-63), because of His pardoning love through His only begotten Son! "In that day" . . . when pardoned captives and dispersed ones shall return and serve the Lord with one consent, mourning for their sins, and seeking the Lord. What a glorious day that shall be!
Wherein thou hast transgressed against me . . . because of everything they did in rebelling against God.
For then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride . . . God will remove all the proud, arrogant people from among them, leaving only the meek and humble. God has always been opposed to the proud and haughty of every generation. But all those who are meek and humble will be rewarded because they trust in God. Self-reliance and arrogance have absolutely NO place among God's people or in His future Kingdom. "Them that rejoice in thy pride" . . . are those priding themselves on that which they boastest of, the temple ("My holy mountain"), their election as God's people, in the Pharisaic spirit (Jer. 7:4; Mic. 3:11; Mat. 3:9). Jeremiah weeps over people's pride (Jer. 13:17). "Mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears." I think God weeps too. The converted remnant shall be of a humble spirit (Zep. 3:12-13; Isa. 66:2,10).
And thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain . . . and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain (Mic.4:2; Zec. 13:8-9). The temple of the Lord (Jer. 7:4,9-10). My holy mountain (Isa.11:9; 56:7; 65:11; 66:20; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Ob.1:16).
Because of my holy mountain . . . the Scribes and Pharisees and others, rejoiced and prided themselves in and boasted of their being descendants of Abraham; boasting of their observing rites and ceremonies of the law and the traditions of their elders, and their EXTERAL legal righteousness (Mat.23:25-26). They rejoiced in their evil, prideful boastings . . . but in their hearts, they despised Christ, their Messiah, despised His righteousness, despised His Gospel, despised His ordinances, despised His people, all of which were things in which they transgressed against the Lord. The things they despised, were the things of which they should have boasted; should have prided themselves in!
God is talking to His own people here. One of the things for which God was judging them was that there was NO shame in their vile acts and gross immorality (sound familiar?) . . . they simply were NOT ashamed of their vile sin, just like millions today!
God's people (Jews or Christians) will never reach the point where they will be completely ashamed of their sin. SO many profess to be "Christians" today . . . BUT they live in sin, practice sin (John 8:34; 1 John 3:4-10): adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. IF you can live in sin and be happy . . . you are NOT a child of God! The prodigal son was NEVER happy in that pigpen. When he finally came to his senses, he went home to his father! Pigs live in pigpens! People do NOT live in pigpens! IF YOU are in a "pigpen". . . GET OUT OF THERE! Go home to your heavenly Father who loves you (Luke 15:11-24). Many "Christians" backslide, but they CAN return to God, IF they choose to do so!
Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. (KJV)
I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people . . . meaning just the opposite of the proud and arrogant sinners, that would be preserved from the general calamity. The Chaldeans would not have spared a single one if the Lord had not preserved a remnant! It is God, not the Chaldeans, which left a remnant (Ezra 9:8,15; Neh.1:3; 9:31; Isa.1:9; 4:3; 10:20; 11:11,16; 17:6; 37:4,32; 45:20; 46:3; 65:8; Jer.5:18; 6:9; 23:3; 30:11; 31:7; 40:11; 41:16; 42:2,15,19; 43:5; 44:12,14; 46:28; 50:20; Eze. 6:8; 12:16; 14:22; Joel 2:32; Amos 3:12; 5:3,15; 9:8; Mic. 2:12; 4:7; 5:3,8; 7:18; Zep.2:7,9; 3:13; Zec.8:6; 8:12; 13:8; Rom.9:27,29; 11:5).
Of thee . . . in Judea and Jerusalem.
And they shall trust in the name of the Lord . . . NOT in men, but in the Lord! NOT trusting in being descendants from the patriarchs, as the Jews were determined to do. NOT trusting in Moses and in his law, and obedience to it, NOT; trusting in wealth and riches: NOT trusting in their own hearts, or in their own righteousness . . . BUT trusting in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ; in Him alone for acceptance by God the Father! (John 3:15-18,36; 5:24; 8:24; 14:6; 1 John 5:10-13).
It is only in Jesus' righteousness that we can be justified (Rom.5:1). It is only by Jesus' precious Blood that we can receive pardon and cleansing (1 Pet.1:18-20). It is only through Jesus that we can receive the Holy Spirit to abide in us (John 14:16-18). It is only Jesus Who can give us abundant supplies of grace, and His power and strength for our protection and preservation. It is only Jesus Who can help us in our obedience to God.
Trusting in the Name of the Lord means taking Christ as a Refuge (Ps.9:9; 46:1; 91:2), and being able to hide ourselves under the shadow of His wings (Ps.17:8; 36:7; 91:1,4; Mat.23:37). Only the Person of JESUS can shelter us from the avenging justice of God; from the curses of the law, and from God's wrath that is SURE to come.
Trusting in the Name of the Lord means our committing ourselves totally into the Hands of Christ. It means we can lean on Him day or night, expecting and receiving grace and mercy from Him. It means trusting Him with our all in today's world and in eternity! All the born again, called ones, chosen ones, redeemed ones . . . trust Jesus because through the effective grace of God, faith is given to them, and continues in them through the powerful intercession of Christ for them.
Complete trust in the Lord CANNOT happen, unless ALL boasting is cast away (Isa. 14:32; Zec. 11:11).
Zephaniah 3:13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. (KJV)
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity . . . the remnant of Israel who were preserved and now returned to their own land, shall do NO iniquity. They shall NOT commit the sins they did before! They shall NO longer provoke God with their horrible abominations as they did before. This means they are reformed, they shall be righteous and taught of God, NO more to be idolaters.
These are the ones who trust in the Name of the Lord, the ones brought to believe in Christ, leaving and forsaking their former way of sinful lives. This does not mean that they would be without sin, it means they would NOT live in it, practice it, be workers of it, and would NOT commit the sin against the Holy Ghost, as SO many of the Jews did, rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.
As I said before, "remnant" always refers to Israel . . . but NOT all Israel is God's chosen. Gentiles are also God's chosen and in His eyes, they are Israel. But . . . the church does NOT, CANNOT replace Israel! Those who teach this are WRONG!
Galatians 3:22-29 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV) . . . Born again, Gentile believers in Christ are Abraham's seed and we are heirs to the Promise that God made to Israel!
Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: (KJV)
Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (KJV) . . . Jesus IS that Rock of offense! "Whosoever" (Jew OR Gentile) believes on Jesus shall NEVER be ashamed!
Nor speak lies . . . these shall love truth and speak truth! They shall be honest and upright among all men.
A TRUE child of God believes in Christ, and should not lie (Isa.63:8). And they certainly should NEVER speak doctrinal lies, lies in hypocrisy! Such doctrines that are NOT the Truth of the Gospel, but contrary to it, or "another gospel" (2 Cor.11:4). There are a multitude of these "damnable heresies" (2 Pet.2:1). BEWARE!!!
Neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth . . . no deceitful tongue in their mouth, for they will have clean hearts and right spirits renewed in them (Ps.15:1-5; 24:3-5). A deceitful tongue is a false accuser or false witness (Ps.5:6; 10:7; 36:3; 50:19; 52:2-3). Proverbs 11:18-20 The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward. 19 As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death. 20 They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. (KJV)
For they shall feed and lie down . . . shall feed meaning that they shall enjoy peace and plenty, a blessing added as a crown of their piety and truth. They shall feed like a flock of sheep, which is comparing their innocence, harmlessness, meekness and patience to sheep. They will feed in the lush pastures of the Word of Christ, under the care and guidance of Christ as the good Shepherd; and so go in and out, and find food and water, and fullness of it (Psalm 23).
And none shall make them afraid . . . fear made Abraham, David, Elijah and many others forget truth at times. But here NO none should make them fear! And they will NOT be afraid to speak the Truth (Zep. 3:9). They trust in the Lord (Zep. 3:12). What tremendous spiritual Promises God makes to us through Zephaniah! No lies, no deceit, no fear, no more continued sin, worshipping God in truth, and love to our fellow man without hypocrisy! That shall be the characteristics of the 144,000 sealed of Israel (Rev.7). Praise God!
God's people do indulge in sin at times . . . but NOT permanently. They do NOT practice sin, meaning that they do not stay in sin when they know in their heart it is wrong. They cannot continue to live in sin (1 John 3:9-10). They may get their feet dirty, they may even get down in that vile pigpen, but they simply will NOT stay in the pigpen.
Is it true that "none shall make them afraid"? YES! But I am afraid their fear shall continue for now and on through the Great Tribulation. Israel has not had a moment of peace, since they have been in that land, and not a moment that they have not been afraid. BUT, Zephaniah's prophecy looks to the day when she shall have peace, safety and security.
The preaching of the Gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the Gospel (the pure language of the grace of the Lord), would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance and faith. Purity and piety in all speech is greatly desired by all who are TRUE Christians.
The pure and joyous state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out ALL boasting and ALL pride, leaving men nothing to glory in, except the Lord Jesus Christ! For only Christ Jesus is made of God unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor.1:30). Humiliation for sin, and loving obligations to the Redeemer, will make TRUE believers upright and sincere in the eternal Heaven.
We come now to a description of the day when the King is going to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. (KJV)
Sing, O daughter of Zion . . . daughter of Zion means Israel. Be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem; for it shall be then the children of Israel and of Judah shall be together once again, and seek the Lord their God, and the TRUE Messiah, and find and accept Him; and they shall embrace Him (Zec.12:10-11); they shall profess Him as their Messiah and serve Him with great joy. There shall be NO hypocrisy! All shall be done in deep, heart-felt love and sincerity.
I think this could also mean the TRUE Christian church in Gospel times, which has tremendous reasons to sing and rejoice, because: #1. Christ is coming again, in the sky, at the Rapture to remove the church BEFORE the Great Tribulation starts (1 Thes.4:13-18). And #2. His Second Coming to Earth, to end the Tribulation period (Zec.14:2-4; Rev.19:11-21).
Zephaniah 3:15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. (KJV)
The Lord hath taken away thy judgments . . . outward judgments . . . meaning exile, poverty, contempt and reproach from the nations; but also inward judgments . . . hardness of heart, blindness of mind, impenitence and unbelief. There shall come a day when the Jews will give in to God, and through His goodness to them, and the power of His grace; they will be brought to SEE their sin, and acknowledge it! Their iniquities shall be pardoned; and all calamities, corrections and punishment will end. They shall be put in possession of their land, and enjoy all the privileges of the church of God; and so will have just reason to sing, shout, and rejoice.
The Lord . . . is the One Who kills or makes alive, acquits or condemns, and my friend, NO one can reverse the judgment of the Almighty!
He hath cast out thine enemy . . . cast out the Babylonian out of the throne, and placed the Persian in it. Thine enemy . . . is the Babylonian who held them captive; and placed in his place Cyrus mine anointed, and thy friend, who shall let thee go free (Ezr. 1:1).
The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee . . . it is evident that the Lord, is the King of Israel, and that He is with them!
Thou shalt not see evil any more . . . this day IS coming! Israel will not see evil any more, not experience it (Jer. 5:12; 44:17). They will not fear or feel evils. After the taking away of sin (Zep. 3:13) follows the taking away of trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. Happiness follows in the wake of holiness.
The Lord Jesus WILL come to the Earth, evil WILL be put down, and "...the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).
Zephaniah 3:16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. (KJV)
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not . . . there will be NO more captivities, NO more national afflictions. They will NOT be afraid of any enemies; not the armies of Gog and Magog, not the Turk who will threaten, and will attempt to throw them out of their land, now returned to it . . . NOR . . . inward and spiritual enemies: sin, Satan, death and Hell, being all vanquished and subdued by Christ. Fear thou not . . . will be said at the time of the Jews' conversion, when reinstated in their own land, and shall be threatened with another removal from it, they will have NO reason to fear. In that day; the day or time of restitution, when the captivity returned shall be settled in their land.
And to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack . . . this may refer to the rebuilding of the temple of God, after the return from Babylon; or to their diligence and zeal in the Christian Church, in the work of the Lord, building the city and temple, and restoring the worship of God (Heb. 12:12). Let not thine hands be slack; weak, remiss, hang down through fear of mind, and fainting of spirit; thus being unfit to meet the enemy, or perform duty; but instead, be of good courage, fear not the enemy, be trusting, active and diligent in the performance of the service of the Lord, spurred on by the following considerations:
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (KJV)
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty . . . very encouraging . . . the Lord God is the everlasting One, who never changes. We do have a very unique God.
The Almighty God is awesome! Thy God (Israel's God). The God of the covenant that will never be forgotten or repealed. This God is mighty; He can do all things with His power, He can restrain and destroy enemies, He can support and defend His own people (Jews and born again believers). He will save them, and us, from our fears, and from their enemies' rage. The Lord thy God is the One and Only self-existent and eternal Being, Who is never far away from His people. He is the mighty, prevailing One. Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (KJV)
Christ "is in the midst of" them and us! He is always near to support them and us, to assist and strengthen, to protect and defend. He is not only near by His Presence, which is everywhere; and by His beneficial Presence, which is His concern with all His creatures; but also by His gracious Presence, so special and necessary to His church and people; and which gives them joy unspeakable (1 Pet.1:8). His Presence is a sufficient security from all fears and frustrations (Isa.41:10; Heb.13:5).
He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy . . . He will save, and He is just as willing to save as He is able to do so. Christ will deliver them (and us), from the power and guilt of sins, and from the pollution of sins, and from an eternal Hell . . and when He saves "He will rejoice over thee with joy." He will greatly rejoice. He will joy over thee with singing; He will show the greatest love and joy in a most affectionate manner (Ps. 16:11; 103:11,13; Isa. 62:5; John 14:27; 15:11; 17:13; Heb.12:2). The conversion of the Jews will be a subject of tremendous delight to Almighty God. There will be a more than ordinary joy in Heaven, when the Jews return to God through Christ (Luke 15:7-10).
This cannot be too far away according to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 24. NO one knows when Christ will come in the clouds to gather His church (1 Thes.4:13-18). If someone says that they know the day, they are a liar! (Mat.24:36-42). We do NOT know when He shall come, but He does give us many clues. And He warns us to "watch" because we "know not" when He shall come for the church (Mat.24:42-43; 25:13; Mk.13:33-37; 14:38; Luke 12:37-39; 21:36; 1 Cor.16:13; Eph.6:18; Col.4:2; 1 Thes.5:6; 2 Tim.4:5; 1 Pet.4:7; Rev.3:3). . . . There is a BIG difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus! The Rapture, NO one knows. The Second Coming, will be 7 years after the Rapture.
He will rest in his love . . . they will be content and satisfied in the love of Jesus. The love Jesus shows to them shall be like a "rest" to them. This love will be without any variation or change. Nothing shall separate them (and us) from His love (Rom.8:38-39). It shall always remain the same. They and us, will find eternal comfort with it.
Zephaniah expresses the greatness of Christ's love to His people, and the strength, the fullness and continuance of it. Christ will show the SAME love to you and me, that He did in the days of old, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and everyone back there!
God has a purpose. He always does! He takes us through the dark night of judgment in order to bring us into the light of a glorious new day. He does this because He loves us, and that we can look forward to this marvelous day when we can rest in His love.
I don't know about you, but I am so filled with faults and sin and disobedience. I look to the day when I can rest completely in His love. I look to the day when I will sin NO more! We shall be given new spiritual bodies that will never sin again . . . bodies like that of our sinless Saviour, Jesus (Ps.17:15; Job 19:26-27; Dan.12:3; Mat.16:27; 22:30; Luke 20;35-36; John 3:6; Rom.8:11,29; 1 Cor.15:37, 44,49,50,51-53; 2 Cor.4:10,14; 5:1-10; Phil.3:21; Col.3:4).
1 John 3:1-3 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (KJV) . . . I dearly love this! The God of this Universe, allows us to call Him "Father." WHY? Because He is our spiritual and eternal Father! Do you thank Him and Jesus for this? If not, why not?
Zephaniah 3:18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. (KJV)
I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly . . . meaning those who are grieved and troubled, because they cannot worship, or attend the hear the Word and ordinances of the Lord. The Antichrist shall stop all worship of the Jews during the last 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation (Rev.13:15).
Gather the remnant: I usually just put where in Scripture this can be found, but this is SO interesting and it is FACT that SO many refuse to believe, I have entered the verses.
Jer.23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. (KJV)
Jer.31:8-9 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (KJV)
Eze.34:13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. (KJV)
Eze.36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. (KJV)
Hos.1:11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (KJV)
Rom.11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (KJV) . . . It seems that God has a quota for the Christian church, which consists mainly of Gentiles. There are a few Jews, but they are few and far between. When that number is reached, the Rapture shall occur (1 Thes.4:13-18).
Sorrowful: (Ps.42:2-4; 43:3; 63:1-2; 84:1-2; 137:3-6; Lam.1:4,7; 2:6-7; Hos.9:5).
Who are of thee . . . belong to the church or are her true and genuine children, being born again (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8), and which they have a deep longing desire for the Word. Meaning God's TRUE children whom He will restore.
To whom the reproach of it was a burden . . . I think this could refer to “the abomination of desolation” in the Great Tribulation period (Dan.12:11; Mat. 24:15).
The Antichrist will insist on worship of himself, and will stop all Jewish worship of God . . . again I will list the verses because of their importance.
Dan.8:11-12 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. 12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. (KJV) . . . Antichrist will exalt himself even against the Holy One of Israel (2 Ki.19:22). People shall follow the Antichrist, sinning against God; and the offering of proper daily sacrifices and TRUE religion and worship will be cast to the ground. The Antichrist will be successful in everything at that time.
Dan.11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. (KJV) . . . His army will take over the Jewish Temple, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up that horrid sacrilegious object . . . the abomination of desolation.
Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. (KJV)
The abomination of desolation: (Dan.8:13-14; 9:27; 11:31; Mat.24:15; Mk.13:14).
Maketh desolate: (Dan.7:25; 8:13-14; Rev.11;2; 12:6; 13:5-6)
Zephaniah 3:19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. (KJV)
Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee . . . behold; listen to me. I will deal with them, I will break their power and dissolve their kingdom. The Babylonians who afflicted the Jews, were undone by Cyrus and his Persians. I will undo: (Zep.3:15; Isa.25:9-12; 26:11; 41:11-16; 43:14-17; 49:25-26; 51:22-23; 66:14-16; Jer.30:16; 46:28; 51:35-36; Eze.39:17-22; Joel 3:2-9; Mic.7:10; Nah.1:11-14; Zec.2:8-9; 12:3-4; 14:2-3; Rev.17-21; 20:9).
And I will save her that halteth . . . all the helpless. Their weakness will be no barrier in the way of My restoring them (Ps.35:15). "Halteth" is used for adversity (Eze. 34:16; Mic. 4:6-7). And I will save: (Jer.31:8; Eze.34:16; Mic.4:6-7; Heb.12:13).
And gather her that was driven out . . . see verse 18.
And I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame . . . I believe this 100%! God will justify them, show the Jews as a people that are not rejected by their God, as the people of the great God of Heaven and Earth (Psalm 121). In every land . . . among all people with whom they had dwelt as strangers, and were put to shame, scorned and reproached as hopeless slaves, whose God could not, or would not help them, or had cast them off, and no one else would take care of them. BUT . . . when they are gathered together by the Lord, they shall clearly appear to still be His peculiar people (Ex.19:5; Deut.14:2; 26:18; 1 Pet.2:9) and His great delight. And I will: (Isa.60:14; 61:7; 62:7; Jer.33:9; Eze.39:26).
Zephaniah 3:20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD. (KJV)
At that time I will bring you again, even in the time that I gather you . . . at the time that the Lord will gather the Jews and return them to their own land. Once the Jews are converted, they will be gathered together into one body, and appoint themselves one head; and will go up out of each of the lands wherein they have been dispersed, and enter into their own land, and possess it; at the same time they are made partakers of the grace of God, they will enjoy all their civil privileges and liberties (Hos.1:11).
For I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth . . . the Jews shall become celebrated and praised as God's people. They shall be known and praised among all people of the Earth. This is repeated from verse 19.
When I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD . . . bring back your captives. The Hebrew is plural, "captivities" to express the captivities of different ages of their history, as well as the different places in which they were and are dispersed. Before your eyes . . . they will scarcely believe it for joy of it all, but their own eyes shall convince them of the wonderful reality (Luke 24:36-44).
I think this speaks of the two fold captivity of this people: literal and spiritual. #1. They have their present outward exile from their own land, captivity and dispersion among the nations; and #2. their spiritual captivity or bondage, to sin, Satan, the law, and the traditions of their elders. From both, they will be delivered at the same time.
Since the Lord has said it, whose purposes, promises and prophecies NEVER fail, this shall be accomplished! He is an omniscient God, and knows positively what will be done! And He is an omnipotent God, and certainly has sufficient power to do whatsoever He has determined and promised! What God has said shall be done, consider it already done!
Verse 20 is a repetition of the Promise, for the greater assurance of it, and seems to add but little to what was already promised. "Thus saith the Lord." Believe and rejoice in it. This wondrous day of light will surely come. It will be glorious for the nation Israel, and for the church too! God is putting many of us through the furnace of trials and tribulations. What we need to remember about Heaven, is not the golden street (Rev.21:21), is not the pearl gates, but the fact that He is going to wipe away all tears (Rev.21:4). The most wonderful thing about Heaven will be that we are going to be able to thank Him for everything that He has ever done for us . . . including the trials and troubles we had and for every burden that He put on us in this life, that we will no longer have there!
Several important truths in Zephaniah that should be considered by us today:
- #1. It is not just the heathen or the ungodly who need to be delivered from the guilt and penalty of their sins . . . it is ALL people. Many people think they are "good" but in God's eyes they are vile sinners.
- #2. It is God who saves people from their sins. There is NOTHING that WE can do to be made "right" with God. No matter how hard we try to work harder or try to do better, it is ONLY God who produces righteousness in us, when we believe Him (1 John 5:10-13) and accept His one and only Way of salvation, His only begotten Son, Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
- #3. Our sins are forgiven, and we are made righteous because God passes judgment on our sins.
How is this possible? Zephaniah does not tell us, but he does not have to. We know that God poured out His wrath on His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who took OUR sins upon Himself on the cross of Calvary, bearing the penalty WE deserve. It is ONLY when we believe God and accept what Jesus did on the cross for US, that we can ever be righteous (1 Cor.1:30), because our "righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa.64:6). It is ONLY by the divine judgment of Almighty God that we are saved and that we become righteous, because our judgment was borne by the Lord Jesus Christ. ONLY those who acknowledge their sin and trust in Christ’s saving work at Calvary (in their place) have the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life.
Think about of the significant contributions of the Book of Zephaniah. I believe we are given a clue by the placement of this book among the Old Testament Minor Prophets. Chronologically, the Book of Habakkuk is the last Minor Prophet before Judah goes into exile, at the hands of the Babylonians. But when you consider its placement in the Old Testament, it is Zephaniah which is the last of the Minor Prophets before the exile. So, Zephaniah gives us the final written word of the pre-exile Minor Prophets.
Some accuse Zephaniah of not being original and simply repeating what others said before him. But, my friend, isn't it a fact that God often repeats Himself? In my humble opinion, we cannot blame Zephaniah for what God chose to do, because I believe Zephaniah was called by God to serve Him in the way that he did.
True, Zephaniah does repeat what others have said . . . but by those repetitions, Zephaniah emphasizes the very important themes and messages of the prophets who went before him. And, because Zephaniah’s ministry did overlap that of Jeremiah, he served as a second witness to Almighty God, by confirming the words of Jeremiah.
Zephaniah should be thanked for emphasizing the fact that even though God’s judgment for sin will be speedy and severe, He also saves a remnant, thus assuring Israel of their hope for the future. God has always saved a "remnant" (Lev.26:44; 1 Ki. 19:18; 2 Ki.19:31; 2 Chron.30:6; Ezra 2:64; 9:8,15; Neh.1:3; 9:31; Isa.1:9; 4:3; 6:13; 10:20; 11:11,16; 17:6; 37:4,32; 45:20; 46:3; 65:8; Jer.3:14; 5:18; 6:9; ; 23:3; 30:11; 31:7; 40:11,15; 41:16; 42:2,15,19; 43:5; 44:12,14; 46:28; 50:20; Eze.6:8; 1:13, 12:16; 14:22; Joel 2:32; Am. 3:12; 5:3,15; 9:8; Mic.2:12; 4:7; 5:3,8; 7:18; Zep.2:7,9; 3:13; Zec.8:6,12 13:8; Rom. 9:27,29; 11:5). When I consider all these verses, it saddens me that SO many people hate the Jews! My friend, God does NOT hate the Jews! BEWARE!!
What should OUR response be to Zephaniah's words?
#1. Stand in peaceful silence in the awesome Presence of the Sovereign Lord, for day of His judgment is near (Zep.1:7) What does it mean to be silent before the Lord? Could it possibly mean that we STOP making excuses for our sin? Could it mean that we STOP denying that we are sinners? Could it mean that we STOP thinking that we do not deserve God’s wrath? "Holding your peace" . . . is peaceful silence, "waiting on the Lord" (Ps.27:14; 37:34; Pro.20:22) is sometimes seen as admitting one’s guilt (Lev.10:3; Neh.5:8; Job 6:24). Peaceful silence is expressing reverence to our awesome Triune God (Ps.62:1; 65:1; Hab.2:20; Zec.2:13).
Jeremiah 7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. (KJV) . . . Also (Jer.11:14; 14:11). OH! How utterly dreadful! God will strive just so long with the ungodly, and then he will no longer hear prayers on their behalf. Jeremiah makes this VERY plain! When the time for God’s judgment comes, it will do NO good for the righteous to ask God to withhold His Hand. Let the righteous silently await the “Day of Judgment” in awe and reverence and obedience to Almighty God, and let us pray for the unsaved before it is too late.
#2. We are to seek the Lord, before the decree takes effect and the day passes like the chaff, and the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you (Zep.2:1-3). This is a call to repentance for those who do not know God, and for those who do know Him and have backslid. ALL people should prepare to meet their God, for the great and final “Day of Judgment” is still future, but it MAY NOT be very far off. We ALL are sinners (Rom.3:10;23). We ALL deserve God’s judgment! We ALL are described in Zephaniah, and in Romans! Romans 3:9-20 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (KJV)
Is there any good news for us? YES!!! God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer God’s judgment in our place. When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, He did not die for HIS sins, for He was the sinless Lamb of God. Jesus was totally sinless (Isa.53:9; John 7:18; 2 Cor.5:21; Heb.4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22; 1 John 3:3,5). He did not just suffer at the hands the Jews hatred and of Rome; He endured the judgment of God that should have been ours. BUT . . . He then rose from the dead and ascended to the Father in Heaven (Ps. 68:18; Mark 16:19; Luke 9:51; 24:51; John 6:62; 7:33; 13:3; 14:28; 16:10; 16:16,28; 17:11,13; 20:17; Acts 1:2,9,22; 3:21; Eph.4:8; 1 Tim.3:16; Heb.4:14; 6:20; 8:1; 9:12,24; 1 Pet. 3:22).
God the Father offers salvation to ANYONE who will trust in His only begotten Son (John 3:13-18,36; 5:24; 8:24; 1 John 5:10-13). BUT . . . ALL those who reject Christ shall endure the eternal fiery wrath of God (Zep.1:18; Rom.1:18; 2:5; Rev.20:15). What a terrifying thought.
#3. The righteous are instructed to wait on the Lord (Zep.3:8). Judgment Day is the “Day of the Lord” which is the coming Great Tribulation Period. This horrible time (Mat.24:21) will start immediately after the Rapture of the TRUE saints (1 Thes.4:13-18), when the dreaded "Antichrist" shall be revealed. His first task will be to make peace for Israel. He will make a 7 year peace treaty with Israel (Dan.9:27), but mid-way (3 1/2 years) he shall break that treaty and all HELL will break loose!
The godly should not fear what lies ahead; we are to trust in God and wait patiently for this time to come. The righteous should avoid taking vengeance and wait for this day when God will make all things right. It really is something to look forward to, because things certainly are NOT right in today's world!
#4. The righteous are to willingly (have a deep desire) and joyfully worship God, in the light of the coming “Day of the Lord”. Israel is called upon to rejoice! And IF we are TRUE Christians, we too shall rejoice for them (Zep.3:9-20).
Zephaniah ends his prophetic words from God with a call to worship. I do NOT think that he is speaking of worship in some future day . . . for that is a SURE thing (Ps.22:27-28; 65:2; 66:4; 67:3; 86:9; 113:3; 148:11; Isa.19:19; 45:22-23; 49:7; 56:7; 66:23; Dan.7:14; Zep.2:11; Zec.8:22; 14:16; Mal.1:11; John 4:21; Rom.14:11; Phil.2:9-11; Rev.5:13; 15:4). Worship by the heavenly hosts (Rev.4:8-11; 5:8-14; 7:11; 11:16).
Excellent reasons why we all should worship God (1 Chron. 16:23-25, 28-32, 34-36). May I say this to you, if it is your desire to go to Heaven, WHAT do you think you shall do there? The answer is: Worship God!
Zephaniah tells us that we should worship NOW! God’s people should worship Him for many reasons: thank Him for what He has already done for us: in our lives; in our prayers, in saving us from Hell; thank Him for His only begotten Son, and thank Jesus personally; honor and glorify Him for Who He is; praise Him always day after day; lift up praise to Him because the “Day of Judgment” and the times of blessing are still to come. God’s people are to worship by faith, trusting Him completely and knowing that God keeps ALL His Promises . . . whether they be Promises of blessing OR Promises of judgment. Even in the most difficult of times of a Christian, we KNOW the future of the righteous is crystal clear, and it is certain, and we know there is a "mansion" (John 14:2-3) awaiting us, and that it is "reserved in Heaven" for us (1 Pet.1:4-5).
We do NOT need to dread God’s coming judgment, but instead we are to anxiously await the full measure of God’s promised blessings. We should enter into joyful worship, knowing that we shall escape God's fiery wrath and divine sentence to Hell (Mat.25:31- 46; Rev.20:11-15), and that we shall soon enter into eternal blessings, because we believe in and accept the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Book of Zephaniah
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