Judgment on Jerusalem and the Nations
3 Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice;
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the LORD;
she does not draw near to her God.
Her officials within her
are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;
her priests profane what is holy;
they do violence to the law.
The LORD within her is righteous;
he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
each dawn he does not fail;
but the unjust knows no shame.
“I have cut off nations;
their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
to make all their deeds corrupt.
“Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD,
“for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
all the earth shall be consumed.
The Conversion of the Nations
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD
and serve him with one accord.
From beyond the rivers of Cush
my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
shall bring my offering.
“On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain.
But I will leave in your midst
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD,
those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
and none shall make them afraid.”
Israel’s Joy and Restoration
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
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,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the LORD.
Zephaniah 3 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The opening message of doom found in Zephaniah ends with that of hope. It holds words of rescue, restoration, and celebration as God comes among the people with joy. He is the God in our midst. The Mighty One and He will save. But it is not only this, God Himself pulls back and sings. He sings in joy and triumph and the focus of such melodies are His people. He sings over you.
It’s an image we don’t think of often when it comes to God singing. But He does. He takes such delight and joy in His people who trust in Him, follow Him, remain steadfast to Him. His voice raised, it reverberates throughout the galaxies.
It is an image to consider and be encouraged. The God of all eternity sings over you, His creation. And He is here in the middle of your life. He is here at the center of your struggle. He is in your midst. He is the Mighty One who saves. And right at this moment, He sings over you.
Zephaniah 3 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Destruction. Conversion. Restoration.
This chapter reads as a Gospel presentation as all glory goes to God. He is the One to correct, convert, and restore.
Though these prophecies address an immediate time period, they also speak long into the future. Zephaniah writes that on the Day of the Lord, the fire of His jealousy will consume the Earth (verse 8). Certainly, that must be a future event. Jerusalem’s day of destruction occurred in 586 B.C. when King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city. However, this was only an exile. Jesus then predicted a more severe judgment on Jerusalem which was fulfilled in 70 A.D.
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it, 22 because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written.Luke 21:20-22 HCSB
In the same way that Zephaniah intertwines the final destruction of Earth with the exile in 586, Jesus intertwined the final destruction of Earth with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Why?
We know that God is a patient God, not wanting anyone to perish but all to find life through repentance. For centuries, He has withheld His judgment from this world. However, it is noteworthy to consider that the judgments predicted by the prophets and by Jesus all speak to a final, cataclysmic event. Today, we live closer than ever to that final judgment of God.
Jesus promised it would be sudden and intense. The attitude that Zephaniah described for his people is the same attitude prescribed for us today. We repent and wait with patient endurance. We do not doubt He is coming. The people of Zephaniah’s time fell victim to an attitude of refusal with regard to the truth of God. They thought they had more time. They thought He wouldn’t follow through. They thought it wouldn’t be that bad.
But through all of this judgment, there is hope. There is the promise of purity and the removal of arrogance. We are experiencing that promise today! We have been made pure in God’s sight through Christ and by His Spirit, we have the power to overcome our stubborn, arrogant demeanor.
God is always good on His Word. We read it time and time again in the Scriptures. Do not get lured to sleep. Stay alert! Trust Him! Patiently endure! His glory will come like a thief in the night.