Zephaniah - Go ahead and be Finding it...here’s how obscure it is Benson’s commentary, roughly 6000 pages - has 10 on Zephaniah. Dad would tell you his name means - hidden away. And when you listen to his prophecy you’ll understand why he would have had to have been hidden.
By the way - my voice doesn’t read this judgment well!!! :) Reading from the ESV. I’m going to guess it’s been a while since you read Zephaniah. 53 verses.
Zephaniah 1:1The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah,(A) in the days of(B) Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. The Coming Judgment on Judah 2(C) "I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the LORD. 3"I will sweep away(D) man and beast; I will.l sweep away the birds of the heavens and(E) the fish of the sea, and(F) the rubble[a] with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth," declares the LORD. 4"I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; (G) and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, 5(H) those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, (I) those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by(J) Milcom, 6(K) those who have turned back from following the LORD, (L) who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him." The Day of the LORD Is Near 7(M) Be silent before the Lord GOD! For(N) the day of the LORD is near; (O) the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and(P) consecrated his guests. 8And on the day of the LORD’s sacrifice—(Q) "I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and(R) all who array themselves in foreign attire. 9On that day I will punish everyone(S) who leaps over the threshold, and those who fill their master’s[b] house with violence and fraud. 10"On that day," declares the LORD, "a cry will be heard from(T) the Fish Gate, U) a wail from(V) the Second Quarter, a loud crash from the hills. 11(W) Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar! For all the traders[c] are no more; all who weigh out silver are cut off. 12At that time(X) I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men(Y) who are complacent,[d] (Z) those who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.' 13Their goods shall be(AA) plundered, and their houses laid waste. (AB) Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; (AC) though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them." 14(AD) The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; (AE) the mighty man cries aloud there. 15(AF) A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish,a day of(AG) ruin and devastation, (AH) a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16(AI) a day of trumpet blast and battle cry (AJ) against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements 17(AK) I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk(AL) like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; (AM) their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh(AN) like dung. 18(AO) Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD.(AP) In the fire of his jealousy, (AQ) all the earth shall be consumed; (AR) for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Zephaniah 2 Judgment on Judah’s Enemies 1Gather together, yes, gather, O(A) shameless nation, 2(B) before the decree takes effect[a]—before the day passes away(C) like chaff—(D) before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. 3(E) Seek the LORD,(F) all you humble of the land, who do his just commands;[b] (G) seek righteousness; seek humility; (H) perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. 4(I) For Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation; Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon, and Ekron shall be uprooted. 5Woe to(J) you inhabitants of the seacoast, you nation of(K) the Cherethites! (L) The word of the LORD is against you,(M) O Canaan, land of the Philistines; and I will destroy you(N) until no inhabitant is left. 6(O) And you, O seacoast,(P) shall be pastures, with meadows[c] for shepherds and folds for flocks. 7(Q) The seacoast shall become the possession of(R) the remnant of the house of Judah,(S) on which they shall graze, and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God(T) will be mindful of them and(U) restore their fortunes.
8"I have heard(V) the taunts of Moab and(W) the revilings of the Ammonites, how they have taunted my people and made boasts(X) against their territory. 9Therefore,(Y) as I live," declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Moab shall become(Z) like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them." 10This shall be their lot in return(AA) for their pride, because they taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of hosts. 11The LORD will be awesome against them; (AB) for he will famish all the gods of the earth, and(AC) to him shall bow down, each in its place, all(AD) the lands of the nations. 12(AE) You also, O Cushites, shall be slain by my sword.13And he will stretch out his hand against the north (AF) and destroy Assyria, and he(AG) will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert. 14(AH) Herds shall lie down in her midst, all kinds of beasts;[d] (AI) even the owl and the hedgehog[e] shall lodge in her capitals; a voice shall hoot in the window; devastation will be on the threshold; for(AJ) her cedar work will be laid bare. 15This is the exultant city(AK) that lived securely, that said in her heart, "I am, and there is no one else." What a desolation she has become, (AL) a lair for wild beasts!(AM) Everyone who passes by her hisses and(AN) shakes his fist.
Zephaniah 3 Judgment on Jerusalem and the Nations 1Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,(A) the oppressing city! 2She listens to no voice;(B) she accepts no correction.(C) She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. 3(D) Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are(E) evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. 4(F) Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;(G) her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law. 5The LORD within her(H) is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but(I) the unjust knows no shame. 6(J) "I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins; I have laid waste their streets (K) so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant. 7(L) I said, 'Surely you will fear me; (M) you will accept correction. Then your[a] dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.'[b] But(N) all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. 8"Therefore(O) wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is(P) to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy (Q) all the earth shall be consumed.
The Conversion of the Nations 9"For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to(R) a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. 10(S) From beyond the rivers(T) of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering. 11(U) "On that day(V) you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then(W) I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and(X) you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. 12But I will leave in your midst a people(Y) humble and lowly. (Z) They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, 13(AA) those who are left in Israel; they(AB) shall do no injustice and speak no lies, (AC) nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue.(AD) For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."
Israel’s Joy and Restoration 14(AE) Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. AF) The King of Israel,(AG) the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. 16(AH) On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:"Fear not, O Zion; (AI) let not your hands grow weak. 17(AJ) The LORD your God is in your midst, (AK) a mighty one who will save; (AL) he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 18I will gather those of you who mourn(AM) for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach.[c] 19Behold, at that time(AN) I will deal with all your oppressors. And(AO) I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change(AP) their shame into(AQ) praise and renown in all the earth. 20(AR) At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, (AS) when I restore your fortunes before your eyes," says the LORD.
Wow! This is a fearsome book!
After reading the book I think of this story - A young boy was sitting in the corner of the kitchen looking unhappy. He’d just been given a “time out”. When his discipline was over, he asked his mother, “God can do anything He wants, can’t He?” His mother answered, “Of course.” The boy then reflected, “God doesn’t have any parents, does He?”
Key summary verse:1:18, "Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth."
Thought about calling this lesson: Counseling God! It’s been a long time since I saw this level of anger! We want to dispell, dismiss and correct this sort of anger.
What is God mad about?
- His praise not being given to Him (1:4b-6)
- His people being abused (2:8, 10)
- His purpose being ignored - He knows what we can be, what we were made to be, because He made us
- His proclamations being passed over
- The poor are being oppressed - God is always upset when the poor are oppressed (3:1).
Who is God mad at?
- The faithlessness of the people who had every reason to have faith (Romans 2:4-do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?)
- The failures of the prophets and priests - the people who were His selected and recognized leaders.
- The faithless who have hurt His people by their influence. God has always warned against the influences of people who do not fear Him - that is part of the problem in Zephaniah. (today - evil companions...)
A lot hinges on the time of Zeph - he is a contemporary of Jeremiah, 50 years after Isaiah. During the reign of Josiah. The boy king, the most righteous of the kings of Judah. The question is, is it at the first or the end of his reign. Here is what that is imp - if at the first of his reforms then it is this sort of prophecy that may have changed his heart. If it is a the end of his reign it is a reminder of how quickly we can stray.
The Judgment of God is...
in it’s scope - includes everyone (the idol worshippers like Baal, etc, the star gazers (vs. 5), those who worship the Lord and Malcoh (vs 5, i.e. swear by), those who worship no god at all (1:6)
in it’s specificity- includes everything (1:12) searching as w/candles - every corner! No where to hide.
Coming (1:12-even though some say He will not). He says in verse 14, it is near.
Catastrophic (1:15) The smoke so thick they can’t see - that adds to the fear of it all (Deut 28:29; Isa 49:10).
Caused (1:17) -17(AK) I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk(AL) like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; (AM) their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh(AN) like dung. (One of my elders - WWZD-over an immature.
Conditional (several times-2:1-3,
7 Lessons the church today needs to hear today about the nature of God from Zephaniah that would make her more of a force in this culture:
1- God is not mocked - 1:12 then, in 2Pe 3:4, the day of the Lord will come...Gal 6:7. God is gracious and compassionate, but when all His warnings are ignored, judgment is to be expected. God's day of judgment is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. Some day - regardless of how long it has been - we will stand before the judge of all the earth - it may be we die it may be the Lord returns but we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ! (2Co 5:10) - the church needs to be reminded of that. It will affect how we treat each other, it will affect our faithfulness, it will affect how we serve.
With a few adjustments in names and situations, this prophet of 8th century B.C. could stand in our pulpits today and deliver the same message of judgment of the wicked and hope for the faithful. Zephaniah shouts at us that God is offended by the moral and religious sins of His people. God's people will not escape punishment when they sin willfully. Punishment may be painful, but its purpose may be redemptive rather than punitive. The inevitability of the punishment of wickedness gives comfort in a time when it seems that evil is unbridled and victorious. We have the freedom to disobey God but not the freedom to escape the consequences of that disobedience. Those who are faithful to God may be relatively few, but He does not forget them.
2- God is mindful of even the small group of faithful. He always has a remnant and he never forgets them. A small group can make a difference in a large group! There is always a remnant - don’t ever think it is you and only you who is faithful. We must work together - as I look around this room - this lectureship - I am amazed at my older brothers who mentor us - my younger brothers who give us hope and my contemporaries who inspire and refresh me! Satan wants nothing more than to tear God’s people apart! We’ve got to support each other - to stand beside each other, to be understanding of each other - to be as forgiving and patient and sensitive to each other as we expect others to be of us.
Guys - I hope this isn’t too sappy - but we spend 51 weeks a yr ministering to others - this is our week to minister to each other. Look around you, some of these brothers are hanging on by a thread - ready to throw in the towel. Don’t quit! Some came just hoping for a positive word, instead of a curt cutting remark - A slap on the back stab in the back - A hug and a handshake instead of a hurt and a headache. Look around - listen, care, share, we are on the same team - let’s encourage each other.
3- God demands that we continually mature in our faith: 3:2, She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. - If we do not nurture our relationship with the Lord it will always lead to disobedience and ultimately destruction (4 things in this verse).
- She did not draw near to the Lord - in prayer and praise
- She trusted not in the Lord. Didn’t place her confidence in the Lord but in things.
- She accepts no correction
- She listens to no voice...this is where it ends.
Brothers - it is our mission to be like Him! And he was a soul winner! Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost - Luke 19:10. Dad would say, “say something about getting out of our offices and studying the Gospel with somebody.
So grow, show you have some faith! Do! Dream! Stretch! Act! What have you done lately that you could not have done and would not have attempted were it not for faith? Attempt great things for God, expect great help from God! It is not faith if it does not act and if it does not act without knowing the outcome it is not Bible faith! Faith is believing without seeing. Elders - we can’t see how to do it, we can’t see how we can _____ - GOOD! I wonder if God is acting in so few of our churches because we have minimized the need for Him to act - everything we are trying to do we could do without Him!
4- God knows His ministers must be pure and powerful: 3:4 - Prophets and priests are corrupt. When leaders won’t speak truth bad happens. When leaders won’t live truth worse things happen. Zephaniah was different - he had the courage to speak bluntly because he knew he was proclaiming the Word of the Lord. His book begins with "The word of the Lord" and ends with "says the Lord." He knew that neither the many gods the people worshiped nor even the might of the Assyrian army could save them. Listen we belong to God, not to a pay check, not to a set of friends or elders or security. God has no respect for a so called minister who will not speak His whole truth for popularity, or pride, or pay, or playing to a segment of the church, or prejudice, or phobia! We belong to God!
5- God moves!1:12.One translation:”On Judgment Day, I'll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem. I'll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy, amusing themselves and taking it easy, Who think, 'God doesn't do anything, good or bad.” Some of my brethren would make awful good deists. We’ve so convinced ourselves that Pentecostalism is wrong that we have pained us into a corner where we seem to not be able to attribute anything to God! Prayer. Why pray if we do not believe God hears and will answer? What do we fear in saying God is in control or that God worked in our lives? Would we rather take the credit ourselves? Blame it on luck or chance or happenstance? To paraphrase James “if good happens it is from God” (James 1:17)
6- God doesn’t move out on us: Notice something that seemed strange to me - 2 1/2 chapter describing His wrath - He’s still there! God does not give up easily (even then He is wanting to give them a chance - Zephaniah 2:3, "Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger."). We, preachers, sometimes quit to easily. (dad, Jeff and I were traveling the alaskian pipeline holding a meeting together in Eliasian, AK. I asked...”how do you stay in the same place for 25 years?” You don’t leave.
7- God is merciful. But let me say that differently: God is not like us! Thankfully! Modern day religiosity tries to bring God down to man’s level. Thankfully we can’t fugure Him out. If we get that angry we don’t get over it. It is only in our becoming like Him that we slowly learn to forgive like this.
When One of my nephews was little he used to close his prayers with - “and God, have a nice day.” - that’s what I think when I read - Zephaniah.