Zephaniah 1 [All verse quotes use the NKJV unless otherwise stated]
Contrary to his predecessor Habakkuk, Zephaniah can be time-stamped.
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 1:2 “I 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 1:3 “I 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 8:1…silence 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.
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