1353.) Zephaniah 3

July 9, 2014

zephaniah 3 17

Zephaniah 3   (NRSV)

The Wickedness of Jerusalem

The wicked city . . .

Ah, soiled, defiled,
    oppressing city!
It has listened to no voice;
    it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord;
    it has not drawn near to its God.

I like the translation/repetition of verse 2 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in Yahweh;
she has not drawn near to her God.

The officials within it
    are roaring lions;
its judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing until the morning.
Its prophets are reckless,
    faithless persons;
its priests have profaned what is sacred,
    they have done violence to the law.

The righteous God . . .

The Lord within it is righteous;
    he does no wrong.
Every morning he renders his judgment,
    each dawn without fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

Jeremiah 23:6  (NIV)

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.

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 people, without inhabitants.
I said, “Surely the city will fear me,
    it will accept correction;
it will not lose sight
    of all that I have brought upon it.”
But they were the more eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

Punishment and Conversion of the Nations

First judgment . . .

Therefore wait for me, says the Lord,
    for the day when I arise as a witness.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all the heat of my anger;
for in the fire of my passion
    all the earth shall be consumed.

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV)

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
    In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
    and their doom rushes upon them.”

At that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
    my suppliants, my scattered ones,
    shall bring my offering.

11 On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of all 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.
12 For I will leave in the midst of you
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord
13     the remnant of Israel;
they shall do no wrong
    and utter no lies,
nor shall a deceitful tongue
    be found in their mouths.
Then they will pasture and lie down,
    and no one shall make them afraid.

A Song of Joy

Then mercy . . .

14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter Jerusalem!

Elizabeth Browning, in her poem, The Seraphim, describes the angels watching the work of the Son of God on earth.  At last, seeing with stupefied amazement the incarnation and ultimately the cross, one angel looks at this host of ransomed souls and says to the other,

“Hereafter shall the blood bought captives raise their passion song of blood.”

And the other angel replies,

“And we extend our holy vacant hands toward the throne and cry, ‘We have no music.'”

You see, only the redeemed can sing like this. After the darkness, after the slaughter, after the terrible destruction comes the time of the singing. That is what God is after in your life. That is possible on the level of the Spirit right now when God deals death’s stroke against the flesh within us and brings us through that painful experience of saying no to the ego and the self-life. There follows the time of the singing, the time that he is after, the reason he takes us through the pain and the darkness. What you see to be true of the individual life will also be true on the whole wide canvas of history as God brings human history to an end.

–Ray Stedman

15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
    he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall fear disaster no more.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
    do not let your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
    a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
    he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah3.17 flower

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.

Love cannot help loving, any more than water can help flowing.  It is pure joy just to love.  The love of God follows us wherever we go and whatever we are doing.  That we know nothing of it does not matter.  That we are wholly occupied in our work does not matter.

I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me (Song of Solomon 7:10).

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Is it not utterly wonderful?  He finds pleasure in loving us.  To love is the joy of God.  And this love, this very love, is the love He sheds abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit He has given us (Romans 5:5).

Is there one of us who would wish to hurt or to ignore love like that?

18 as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
    so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19 I will deal with all your oppressors
    at that time.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you home,
    at the time when I gather you;
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.

We often underestimate the joy God has in His people, and too often think God is annoyed or irritated with us:

“Faulty as the church is, the Lord rejoices in her. While we mourn, as well we may, yet we do not sorrow as those that are without hope; for God does not sorrow, his heart is glad, and he is said to rejoice with joy — a highly emphatic expression. Think of the great Jehovah singing! Can you imagine it? Is it possible to conceive of the Deity breaking into a song: Father, Son and Holy Ghost together singing over the redeemed? God is so happy in the love which he bears to his people that he breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.”

David Guzik, quoting Spurgeon



HERE  is Zephaniah 3:17 put to music.  Good encouragement for us today!


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Zephaniah 3:17.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/e47ba-zephaniah317copy.jpg
Zephaniah 3:17 flower.    http://m5.i.pbase.com/u47/roberta/upload/35424535.Zephaniah3.17.jpg

1352.) Zephaniah 2

July 8, 2014

Zephaniah 2

Zephaniah 2   (NRSV)

Judgment on Israel’s Enemies

Gather together, gather,
    O shameless nation,
before you are driven away
    like the drifting chaff,
before there comes upon you
    the fierce anger of the Lord,
before there comes upon you
    the day of the Lord’s wrath.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    who do his commands;
seek righteousness, seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath.

Zeph2 Seek

God looks west to the Philistines:

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.

Ah, inhabitants of the seacoast,
    you nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
    O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
    and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
    meadows for shepherds
    and folds for flocks.
The seacoast shall become the possession
    of the remnant of the house of Judah,
    on which they shall pasture,
and in the houses of Ashkelon
    they shall lie down at evening.
For the Lord their God will be mindful of them
    and restore their fortunes.

Now He looks to the east and sees the Moabites and the Ammonites:

I have heard the taunts of Moab
    and the revilings of the Ammonites,
how they have taunted my people
    and made boasts against their territory.
Therefore, as I live, says the Lord of hosts,
    the God of Israel,
Moab shall become 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.
10 This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
    because they scoffed and boasted
    against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be terrible against them;
    he will shrivel all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the coasts and islands of the nations.

Now God looks to the south, announcing judgment against the Ethiopians:

12 You also, O Ethiopians,
    shall be killed by my sword.

God completes the circle of judgment against Israel’s neighbors by looking north at Assyria and her capital city of Nineveh:

13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north,
    and destroy Assyria;
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
14 Herds shall lie down in it,
    every wild animal;
the desert owl and the screech owl
    shall lodge on its capitals;
the owl shall hoot at the window,
    the raven croak on the threshold;
    for its cedar work will be laid bare.
15 Is this the exultant city
    that lived secure,
that said to itself,
    “I am, and there is no one else”?
What a desolation it has become,
    a lair for wild animals!
Everyone who passes by it
    hisses and shakes the fist.


Zeph2 presence


How different our concept of God once we know Jesus as our Savior!  No longer is He the destroyer.   HERE  is Israel Houghton and “Your Presence Is Heaven.”


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Judgment – Repentance – Hope.    http://www.calvaryhelena.com/uploads/5/2/9/7/5297923/1521660.jpg
Seek the Lord.    http://www.northsideharvest.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Zephaniah-slide.jpg
Psalm 41:12.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/fada5-6a00d8341c72ee53ef017ee5661d96970d-300wi.jpg

1351.) Zephaniah 1

July 7, 2014

Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1    (NRSV)

The 12 Minor Prophets are divided into two groups: pre-exilic and post-exilic. The first 9 are pre-exilic, writing before the Babylonians conquered and exiled Judah. The last 3 are post-exilic, writing during and after the return of Israel from Babylon to the Promised Land. Zephaniah is the last of the pre-exilic prophets, and can be said to “sum up” the messages of the previous 8. This is why Zephaniah seems unoriginal to some scholars, because he quotes the words and ideas of many previous prophets.

–David Guzik (and all comments in red)

Three books of the Minor Prophets are contemporary with Jeremiah’s ministry, especially in its early years.  Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk reflect the circumstances and outlook in Judah during Josiah’s reign (630-609) and the days immediately following his death.  They depict the imminent rise of Babylon and the subsequent collapse of Assyria.  Above all, they set in bold relief the justice of God at work in Judah and the world.  They discern the divine hand in the changing of the guard internationally, they call attention to the need for reform internally, and they anticipate divine reckoning with persistent rebellion where reform is rejected.

–Old Testament Survey, by LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, c. 1982 (all from Fuller Theological Seminary)

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah.

Zephaniah traces his family generations back to King Hezekiah.  Such insider status may give him a close up view of the sins of the leadership in Jerusalem.

The Coming Judgment on Judah

I will utterly sweep away everything
    from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
I will sweep away humans and animals;
    I will sweep away the birds of the air
    and the fish of the sea.
I will make the wicked stumble.
    I will cut off humanity
    from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
I will stretch out my hand against Judah,
    and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal

King Josiah inherited a corrupt nation from his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh, a nation almost wholly given over to idolatry (2 Kings 21:3-7). Here God announces judgment against the idol worshipers in Israel. Apparently both the leadership and the people heeded this announcement of judgment, because in the days of Josiah this kind of gross idolatry was put away (2 Kings 23:4-15).

    and the name of the idolatrous priests;
those who bow down on the roofs
    to the host of the heavens;
those who bow down and swear to the Lord,
    but also swear by Milcom;
those who have turned back from following the Lord,
    who have not sought the Lord or inquired of him.

Be silent before the Lord God!
    For the day of the Lord is at hand;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice,
    he has consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
    and all who dress themselves in foreign attire.
On that day I will punish
    all who leap over the threshold,
who fill their master’s house
    with violence and fraud.

10 On that day, says the Lord,
    a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
    a loud crash from the hills.
11 The inhabitants of the Mortar wail,
    for all the traders have perished;
    all who weigh out silver are cut off.

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,

Jacob Jordaens, Diogenes Searching For An Honest Man, ca. 1642  (Gemaldgalerie Alte Meister, Dresden)

Jacob Jordaens, Diogenes Searching For An Honest Man, ca. 1642 (Gemaldgalerie Alte Meister, Dresden)

Remember the old Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope?  He was said to carry a lamp during the daytime, claiming to be searching for an honest man.  Here is a picture of God, searching with a lamp, but looking for sinners, that He may confront them with the truth about Himself and their corrupt and apathetic lives.

    and I will punish the people
who rest complacently on their dregs,
    those who say in their hearts,
“The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do harm.”
13 Their wealth shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.

The Great Day of the Lord

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
    near and hastening fast;

The term day of the Lord (used more than 25 times in the Bible) does not necessarily refer to one specific day; it speaks of “God’s time.” The idea is that now is the day of man, but the day of man will not last forever. One day, the Messiah will end the day of man and bring forth the day of the Lord.

the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter,
    the warrior cries aloud there.

15 That day will be a day of wrath,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,

16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

17 I will bring such distress upon people
    that they shall walk like the blind;
    because they have sinned against the Lord,
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    and their flesh like dung.
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 passion
    the whole earth shall be consumed;
for a full, a terrible end
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.



The hymn “Dies Irae” was used in the Roman liturgy as the sequence for the Requiem Mass for centuries, as evidenced by the important place it holds in musical settings such as those by Mozart and Verdi.

A major inspiration of the hymn seems to have come from the Vulgate translation of Zephaniah 1:15–16:

“Dies iræ, dies illa, dies tribulationis et angustiæ, dies calamitatis et miseriæ, dies tenebrarum et caliginis, dies nebulæ et turbinis, dies tubæ et clangoris super civitates munitas et super angulos excelsos.”
“That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high bulwarks.” (Douay-Rheims Bible)

So what is your choice?  HERE  is “Dies Irae” from Mozart’s Requiem (lovely), and  HERE  it is from Verdi’s (high drama!).


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
A message of terror and hope.   http://924jeremiah.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/64.jpg?w=630
Jordaens.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/8357c-diogenes_jordaens.jpg