Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1 [All verse quotes use the NKJV unless otherwise stated]

Contrary to his predecessor Habakkuk, Zephaniah can be time-stamped.

Zepanian had a define place in time.

Zephaniah 1:1 reads: The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of [K]Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. He was the son of an evil king. King Amon was so disliked that his own administrators killed him. He ruled from 642 B.C. to 640 B.C…a meager 2 years (probably only 18 months). If Zephaniah is in the lineage of King Hezekiah, he traces his lifeline through those other than through the kingship of Judah. Explanation: It was a practice of tracing king-to-king of royalty. Other sons of a king may trace through other descendants of the ruling king. The practice may have been to trace them through those who did not sit on the throne of Judah to make it difficult for aggressors who try killing off royal blood. It is also highly probable that King Amon was so evil, his blood connection was avoided.

How stark is verse #2? God will utterly consume all things from the face of this Judean land. The list of things to be consumed by God in Judah extends through verse 6.

Zephaniah is the last of the pre-exile (Babylon) Minor Prophets. The last three, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are post exile Minor Prophets. These three come after our narrative commentary of Zephaniah.

Zephaniah 1:2I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,” Says the LORD

When the remnant returned from Babylon, the land was found dry and barren.

Zephaniah 1:3I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” Says the LORD.

This is probably the plague of End Time on the unbelievers and nations during the Tribulation.

Zephaniah 1:4 “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests

God’s curse was not on only Jerusalem but the Promised Land.

Zephaniah 1:5 Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom; also known as Molech.

Verse 5 means Jehovah God had been reduce in the minds and hearts of Judeans to a god comparable in the eyes of many in Judah to Milcom. Two groupings of people are those who worship the true God of Israel and those who worship him AND the Ammonite god Milcom.

Zephaniah 1:6 Those who have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.”

JIV NOTE: Jeremiah as was Isaiah were contemporary to Zephaniah. Zephaniah prophesied for a few years, beginning some say in the same year as Jeremiah [627 or 626 B.C]. Others place Zephaniah a few years later. Because there is no hint of Josiah’s reformations even mentioned in Zephaniah’s book, some believe Zephaniah prophesied before the reforms began. There are some who believe King Josiah’s reformation was already underway and encouraged Zephaniah to “step out” and make known his word from God. Josiah is considered a good King of Judah. His father and grandfather were evil.

JIV (cont.) The words of the prophet in 1:2-6 appear to indicate that he prophesied prior to any significant repentance by the nation of Judah or introduced by King Josiah. The wording in Zephaniah could mean the prophecy indicated End Time tribulation judgements: the Day of the Lord.

Zephaniah 1:7 should remind one of Revelation 8:1silence in the presence of the Lord God Jehovah. Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate. In Revelation “the lamb” (Jesus) opens the seventh and last scroll seal. Heaven goes silent for half an hour. This is a moment that exceeds awesome. One might say, all creation holds its breath; heaven included. Zephaniah 1:7 is similar: Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; For the day of the Lord is at hand. Zephaniah 1:8 explains verse 7 to the chagrin of some who are religious. Too many religious people fail to recognize the holiness of God. Friends, neighbors, and those we consider over or under privileged will be judged. They will have nothing to say in their defense. No political correctness. Just HOLY justice.

Zephaniah 1:8 The question most often raised when this passage is explained, “how can a loving God do such a thing?” God is love, right? Asking such a question or even thinking explains why most do not understand the meaning of HOLINESS. Be silent in the presence of the Lord. God is not one to take advice from what he created. If a goblet or cup is designed to hold a liquid, then its job is not to request to be something else. God created Adam and Eve, humans, to worship and have fellowship with him. Anything else put first or alongside is an idol. This violates the 2nd commandment of “no other priorities [idols] shall come before one’s dedication to me.” [paraphrased].

Something that could be totally confusing to one who is a casual Bible reader is v8b… I will punish the princes and the king’s children, And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. One’s initial confusion is the wording. Why would God punish those who wear foreign clothing? What makes it foreign? As we may see on the surface, wearing foreign apparel is not what it means. It means, anyone who has adorned him or herself in the ways of the world. Bluntly put, anyone who has adopted or adapted to the ways of the world just to FIT IN is wearing foreign apparel to God…men dressed as women?

Zephaniah 1:9    This passage (v9) is like the saying: no stone left unturned. God through Zephaniah is defining his inclusive punishment of his creation and all that have drifted away from God’s purpose for creating man. The person guilty of “leaping over the threshold” is one who has not honored another’s possessions. Taking without personal guilt what another has worked to get. In other words, God is just.

F.B. Meyer: Notice the successive classes of those who were to suffer. They constitute a series of concentric circles, narrowing down to those who had turned back, and to those who had never sought the Lord.

Zephaniah 1:10 Note once again the often used three words by many prophets on that day. This means the Day of the Lord; the day of judgment; the day of End Time. It would take a volume to list, then discuss all the prophesied events that happen with the opening of the 7th seal per the scroll of Revelation. The most breath-taking event is Heaven going silent for half an hour Revelation 8:1. Even the Seraphim go silent (cf. Isaiah 6:2-7).

Zephaniah 1:11 could be interpreted as the time when the mark of the beast will be required to buy, sell, and trade. We know from other studies that the antichrist desires the Israelites, God’s chosen, be annihilated. This battle between God, Satan, and by proxy to God’s chosen, goes back the Garden of Eden. Eve is having a conversation with the serpent Satan. God condemns the serpent.. Genesis 3:15 “…I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between *your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”  [NKJV] Satan versus God’s chosen of Abraham.

JIV NOTE: *Some have asked of this verse “who might be Satan’s seed?” They are all who reject God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; one or all three. It is not as some teach, Satan’s minions of fallen angels. This is so true today. The most rejected State today is Israel. Their very existence is challenged on the floor of the United Nations year after year. Eve’s seed is Jesus [Luke 3].

Maktesh (v11) is probably a reference to the market street(s)

The idea of business as usual in Jerusalem will be null and void. Merchants are cut off from their sources and money men can no longer do business. This happens in the second 3 ½ years of the Tribulation.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Zephaniah 1:12 We will always find complacent people who try to ride the middle of the road to avoid taking one side or the other. Zephaniah identifies the complacent In That Day as the self-assuring, self-satisfied,and/or self-sanctioned. They will find themselves on the wrong side of the road In the Day.

“God will do neither good nor evil.” These people who take this stand basically nullify God as any type of actual influence over humans. Their theory is man makes his own heaven or hell while on earth. To search Jerusalem with lamp means to sweep every nook and cranny. No one will hide or avoid God’s discerning judgement [Hebrews 4:13-15]. Most who take this position toward God in the past, present, or future use it as a form of denial. This is the unpardonable sin. Denial of the Holy Spirit.

Zephaniah 1:13-17 refers to the merchant once again and one’s average way of life. For something to become booty it must be someone’s ill-gotten gain. At the rapture and in the Day of the Lord, many will go into hiding, be taken to be with God, flee the rage ongoing in the populated world, or try to be as scarce as possible. (cf. Deuteronomy 28:30). For a fuller understanding also read Deuteronomy 28.

  • A day of wrath
  • A day of trouble and distress
  • A day of devastation
  • A day of darkness and gloom
  • A day of clouds and darkness
  • A day of alarm

Mankind who rejects God will be vanquished and vanish. This is the Great White Throne judgement. Let us conclude the uncompromising actuality of Zephaniah 1:17 & 18. The meaning of 17 and 18: The Mercy seat is removed. It is no longer. THAT DAY has come for eternities: Heaven of Hell.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

Zephaniah introduction

Zephaniah introduction

Few summarize the life and circumstances around Zephaniah better than does Chuck Swindoll. Click on the below link to read Swindoll’s overview of Zephaniah


One significant point to be made per Zephaniah’s prophetic life is what he said about the population of Judah. He identified four specific groupings.

  1. Those who worshiped other gods
  2. Those who worshiped other gods AND God
  3. Those who in their own eyes stood neutral
  4. Those who still adhered to the God of Israel.

Once again, commentaries are all over the place regarding this book. Many identify the Book of Zephaniah as the sacrifice of God. Others identify this book as the great day of God. Even the lineage of Zephaniah casts some commentators into confusion. In verse one he traces his lineage back to Hezekiah. The confusion: is this the 4th generation tracing back to Hezekiah, the *13th king of Judah, or another by the same name? The math works out that he could be of royal blood, but then why trace one’s lineage for three generations through non-royalty? We conclude it is of royalty.

*Halley’s Bible Handbook identifies Zephaniah as the great-great grandson of King Hezekiah.

God’s 70-year judgement of the Kingdom of Judah is prophetic at this time, soon to occur. Like other minor prophets, Zephaniah points to the time the Kingdom of Judah will fall. Some see this as a close parallel prophecy of God’s End Time judgment of the world. This parallel is highly probable since Zephaniah mentions all living things will be judged. We also find evidence to support this distant prophetic parallel message. In Zephaniah 3:15 God himself is called the King of Israel. Israel to the north of Judah was destroyed and exiled by the Assyrians 90 years earlier. Only Judah remained.

An outline of Zephaniah by J Vernon McGee

Introduction (1:1)
               JIV NOTE: Unlike some of the minor prophets, we can time stamp Zephaniah by reading 1:1

“I. Judgment of Judah and Jerusalem, Chapter 1

v. 1 — Zephaniah completely identifies himself and his time period
v. 2 — Worldwide devastation is predicted. The Book of the Revelation and Matthew confirm placing the time as the Great Tribulation.
v. 3 — All living creatures are included in the judgment.
v. 4 — Judah and Jerusalem are singled out for judgment (NOTE: Not the church).
v. 5 — The reason for the judgment is idolatry — three types of idolatry are mentioned.
v. 6 — Also they have turned completely from God. Two classes are mentioned: backsliders and those who were never saved.
v. 7 — “The day of the LORD” is judgment (see TWO THOUGHTS, also notes on Joel 1:15). Here the coming of Nebuchadnezzar is treated as a picture of the day of the LORD.
“Hold thy peace” means to hush; to keep still.
v. 8 — The “sacrifice” is the judgment of Judah.
v. 10 — “That day” is the day of the LORD.
v. 12 — Evidently this is one of the first groups to say that God was dead. They were the self-sufficient of an affluent society.
v. 13 — This marks the end of prosperity and the beginning of a depression.
vv. 14, 15 — This is a doleful, dreary, and dreadful picture of the Great Tribulation.
v. 16 — It is a day of fear.
v. 17 — Sin of man brings the judgment.
v. 18 — There will be no deliverance. Silver and gold are their gods, and they are powerless to save any possession or self.

II. Judgment of the earth and of all nations, Chapters 2:13:8

Chapter 2

v. 1 — A call to Israel to come together to plead for deliverance from the wrath of the day of the LORD.
“Not desired” means that they were by choice oblivious to the shame of their sinful condition.
v. 2 — This is a brief but vivid description of the day of the LORD.
v. 3 — The call is extended to the inhabitants of the earth who in meekness seek the Lord.
vv. 4-11 — This is judgment upon surrounding enemy nations and their idols.
v. 12 — Judgment on Ethiopia.
vv. 13-15 — Judgment on Assyria (literally fulfilled).

Chapter 3

vv. 1-5 — Judgment on Jerusalem. Judgment is in ratio to her privilege.
vv. 6-8 — Judgment on all nations — this is *Armageddon, which ends with the return of Christ to the earth. *Some consider Armageddon the final battle with Satan after the Millennial reign.

III. Judgments removed; kingdom established, Chapter 3:9-20

v. 9 — This does not mean there will be one language for the entire world, although there may be only one language — perhaps the language prior to the Tower of Babel. The thought here is “pure” in the sense of the removal of the filthy, profane, and nasty language.
vv. 10-12 — These are kingdom conditions.
vv. 13-16 — The remnant of Israel enters the kingdom. Their attitude and speech are changed. Fear is removed. The Lord Jesus Christ personally reigns over them. This refers to the second coming of Christ.
v. 17 — This verse is the key to the book. This is the white light in a black background. The purpose of judgment is not vindictive, but to cleanse and purify in order that blessing and goodness might ensue from the ordeal.
vv. 18-20 — This describes kingdom [of Judah] conditions.”

 Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of a Godly King Josiah in the mid to late 600’s B.C. If Zephaniah descended from *King Hezekiah, a Godly king, then he would have had access to the royal courts and King Josiah. Whether they worked in concert we do not know but they lived with a common goal of God in the lives of Israel (Kingdom of Judah). However, if Zephaniah descended from and was tutored along with or under Hezekiah, why did Hezekiah’s king son and king grandson fall so far from Jehovah God?

*Hezekiah’s son (king) Manasseh and grandson (king) Amon were very evil. They undid or reversed many of the reforms instituted by King Hezekiah. King Amon was so bad that after reigning for two years, he was killed by one of his own officials. Hezekiah himself found such favor with God he was given a 15-year reprieve in life following a deadly disease.

This means what we study in Zephaniah is akin to King Josiah’s reformations. What one reads about one in likelihood applies to the other. Even with the reforms instituted by King Josiah and ministered by Zephaniah, Judah would still fall to the Babylonians. Do not exclude Isaiah from this period. He too is contemporary to this historical scene [2 Kings 20:5-7].

Hezekiah recognized his people wanting to worship a tangible object. The bronze serpent Moses had made while all Israelis were still in the wilderness was one of those worship objects. Certainly, Zephaniah and Isaiah knew about this practice. Hezekiah made one major mistake, which is recorded in 2 Kings 20. Ambassadors on a secret mission from Babylon happened to “visit and overly proud King Hezekiah in Judah allowed Hezekiah to arrogantly show them all the gold in his treasury, armaments, and the riches of Jerusalem. Afterward, the prophet Isaiah criticized him for his pride. Isaiah foretold that everything would be taken away, including the *king’s descendants. This all lead up to the 70-year captivity in Babylon.

Zephaniah was still the era of the Assyrians. Within 90 years of this time the Assyrians would be no more. The Babylonians would rule the then known world. How it sequenced: Babylonians, along with the Medes, overran the Assyrians. Then they overran the Kingdom of Judah. Then began the 70 year captivity of the Jews (Judeans) and those who resided in Judah.

Now, let’s turn to Hezekiah’s contemporary, the Prophet Zephaniah.

PS; Archaeologists found Hezekiah’s royal seal in 2010 in an area at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Yes, in JERUSALEM. Israelis were dominant in this area over 2,500 years ago. Muhammad was born around 570, AD, 1,000 years later.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3  [cntrl/click to read Habakkuk 3]

Have YOU ever questioned God?

Now that Habakkuk has had his question-and-answer time with God, he settles into a prayer and praise mode. He fully realizes who God is. His questions come from an inquiring heart, not from a heart that questions God himself. Habakkuk now inquires to gain understanding, not to accuse or to cross-examine. He fully understands who God is and will always be.

In Habakkuk we do find an oddness. Habakkuk begins his book with a statement or question to God of why he does not answer Habakkuk’s prayers. Habakkuk can’t figure out why God seems to do nothing about the evils of this world. He wants judgment from God. Then a sudden reconciliation. In chapter 3 Habakkuk asks God to be careful with his judgments…”in your wrath don’t forget your mercy.” First, he wanted God’s judgments then he wants God’s restraint.

Habakkuk 3:1 uses the term Shigionoth. We do not know its exact meaning. This word is only used once in the entire Bible. We can connect some possibly related dots as to its intended implication or application. Chapter 3 is poetic. We often find the word Selah in the poetic Psalms. Selah is also found in Habakkuk 3. We do not fully understand its meaning either. Since these words are used in poetic passages, they must have something to do with song, perhaps prayer. Chapter 3, as noted in verse 1, is a prayer or song of praise to God from the lips of Habakkuk. As written in the LITV, MKJV, and the YLT Shigionoth is written erring ones. We suggest this word Shigionoth means the inner most strings of one’s heart…a prayer, confession, joy, a song being composed from within one’s heart, a Psalm such as King David or Solomon would write.

Habakkuk 3:2 Habakkuk realizes that revival within his people of Judah (perhaps all Israelis) requires a work of God (Holy Spirit) not an achievement of man. Cry out confession to God and expect (wait for) atonement. He is asking God for a return to the times when Israel followed in obedience. Habakkuk fears for the loss of Israeli worship of Jehovah their God. PROBLEM? Habakkuk forgets the free will of man, or does he? Next paragraph:

Repent and be saved,

He does understand God’s judgment per chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 3 he fears for the consequences. Habakkuk begs God to remember mercy in his wrath against his chosen people. It is the opposite of his opening verse in chapter 3. He questions why God does not judge the evils of the world especially within Judah itself hoping to restrain the harshness of God’s judgments upon his chosen people of Israel (Judah).

Habakkuk 3:3 Teman? Where is Teman? God came from there? The Holy One came from Mount Paran? These are physical locations near Sinai but the implication is not that God the Holy One originally resided there. It means, out of Teman and Paran God’s official commandments came into the hands of Israel via Moses. Habakkuk is giving God praise for his continual guidance. [Mt. Paran; see Deuteronomy 33:2]

Habakkuk 3:4 (aha moment) Does the reader recall watching a TV show, cartoon, or movie where the villain and/or the good guy radiate what seems to be power charges from the fingers of his or her outreached hand? Guess from where this originates? Yup! Habakkuk 3:4b. “He had rays flashing from His hand…” Even so-called magicians allude to the power of the raised hand and pointed fingers. Abracadabra, BOOM!

In verse 4c we read…”and there his power was hidden.” As off the wall or odd as it may seem, perhaps this scripture of punishment by God with the tips of his fingers is not far off from Habakkuk’s plea to show mercy in his wrath. He wants the enemies of Israel to see God’s wrath, but is asking like the final plague in Egypt, to overlook the sins of Israel. Pass your finger of judgement over the Egyptians (meaning enemies of Judah) but have mercy on Israelis.

Habakkuk 3:5 This verse has much controversy in other commentaries. Speculation is dominant. Keep in mind that chapter 3 is a psalm or something of a poem to be sung. Perhaps verse 5 is a phrase to be recited. Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet. Similar to King Saul has killed his thousands but David has slain his ten thousand [I Samuel 18:7], this is a recital or chant.

Habakkuk 3:6 This recital continues into verse 6. It is a remembrance of God’s power and judgment: yesterday, today, and forever. Habakkuk is exalting God in praise and celebration. He recognizes that God is Jehovah-God. He praises God for who and what he is. God’s ways are everlasting.

Habakkuk 3:7 Habakkuk continues with his vision of God-in-charge. The world recognizes God but that does not mean they put trust in him. It has been, is, and continues to be more of an avoidance of God. Frank Sinatra sang the song…I Did It My Way. This is the basic attitude of the world, to do it their way.

I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
The curtains of the land of Midian trembled

Habakkuk 3:8 The Expositor’s Bible states per verse 8: “it is not with hills, rivers, or sea that God is angry, but with the nations, the oppressors of His poor people…” God is displeased with the people. Nature and life are both God’s creation. Only man has free will.

Habakkuk 3:9,10 Note that “selah” is inserted after the first two sentences of verse 9. It is a break from one thought going to another just as in poetry or verse in a song. ”You divided the earth with rivers” could easily be a part of the next verse (v10). Nature is defined as different from mankind. BUT…even nature recognizes God as its creator and sustenance. [See Luke 19:40]

Verse 10b is not clear enough to understand its application. It may mean that the earth such as during a volcanic eruption, the deep rumbles its voice. Throwing up or lifting its hands on high, into the skies, closely resembles that of an active volcano. You decide.

Habakkuk 3:11 Habakkuk continues to acknowledge that all creation is in God’s hands and will stand still or respond according to his thoughts, wishes, or command. Even nature refuses to counter God’s direction or instructions (cf. Luke 19:40). Why then does man not follow the lead of nature? [verse 12] Perhaps Free Will?

V12: to trample nations (ethnos). There is a difference in translations between the King James and the New King James. KJV says the heathen whereas the NKJV says nations. The thought is the same. Habakkuk’s thought here is the difference between nature and mankind. ‘Erets’ or earth understands the might of God and recognizes it owes its very existence to him. Mankind, in many cases, has lost obligation to God. God assigned free-will to man but not to all creation. [Matthew 12:37]. We note here that the words’ Free Will are not found in scripture. We conclude the free will of man by study of what it takes to find salvation and eternity through God instead of spending it with Satan and his minions. We have choice…that equals free will.

Habakkuk 3:13 concludes this section of Habakkuk’s prayer and recognition of God. God wished that all mankind would bow a knee to him in true worship. He intended this beginning in the Garden of Eden when all creation was peaceful.

JIV NOTE: This curse at the Garden of Eden includes climate change and seasons we know of today; the tropics, north and south poles. At the time of creation, the sun was possibly constant during the day sending its life-giving values (and vitamin D) to all. After the flood, the earth may have tilted to the 3o wobble of today giving us the four seasons. Hot, cold, and moderate, but changing weather.

We Teach – You Decide

V13 has an interesting sentence…you struck the head of the house of the wicked.” Note that this is not the heads of the houses of the wicked, but it is singular, head of the house. There is but one house of the wicked and from where rebellion against God began…SATAN! Satan had already been cast out of heaven. Prophetically he will be given the final blow from God. He will not be destroyed but eternally condemned. As head of the house of all wickedness, there can be no other inference. SELAH.

Habakkuk 3:14-16: Instead of Habakkuk continuing to question God or his character as in chapters 1 and 2, he now trembles at the very thought of God’s pre-eminence. As he does in chapters 1 and 2, he no longer wishes to question God.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 This is Habakkuk’s faith in action. We might call these three closing verses of Habakkuk 3 a hymn of his faith. Verse 19 is from where we get the chorus “Like (as) a Deer Panteth.” (cf. Psalm 42)

Rev. Dr. Jstark