The promises or covenants given by God to man always follow this pattern: If you___, then I will ___ (will do such-and-such). This is even true of God’s final judgement. If one repents then God will withhold punishing judgement. If we don’t, consequential judgement is promised. What is the constant in God’s directions to man? The guarantee of one of two eternities. How does this apply to the person who has sat in a pew for years “waiting on the Lord”? Satan has no concerns about the religious or pew dwellers. He encourages such pointless religious practice as one day he will try to set himself up as a god to be worshiped by all mankind or suffer Satan’s wrath.
Zephaniah 2:1 requires no explanation other than understanding the adamant calling to gather the people of this Old Testament nation of Judah. Gather you leaders TO THE HEARING to heed what prophet Zephaniah is going to say to them in chapter 2.
Zephaniah 2:2 ‘Before the decree is issued” means before the order from God is given for Zephaniah to go. Troops always align themselves to attack at the command of their commander. They are on the ready. Zephaniah is saying the same thing to his fellow Judeans. Come. Let me [Zephaniah] tell you of God’s guarantee. Repent or be judged. The analogous of chaff, fierce anger repeated twice is like the New Testament stating Verily, verily I say unto you. The urgency is in the phrasing.
Zephaniah 2:3 [2:3a] “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth…” Meek does not mean the people who are at or near the low of the economic food-chain. It is a condition of the heart. One cannot justify his or her meekness without first forfeiting his or her conditional attitude. Not only must Judean attitudes and actions be challenged, but they must give up trying to make their worship being man made conditional. So must modern man.
2:3c “that you may be hidden?” This does not mean that one may as in a possibility. The correct wording in this case should be “will be”. It means permission granted. The last few words in this part of verse 3 state “in the day of the Lord’s anger”. This is the *Day of the Lord. God will scorch the earth with fire, not flood it once again [Isaiah 24:6 who is a contemporary of Zephaniah] Also read or click on Revelation 16:8; II Peter 3:10]
*JIV: Zephaniah mentions this phrase more often than any other prophet in the Old Testament. This repeating of “in the Day of the Lord” is a constant reminder of End Time judgement. (JIV: Jim’s Introspective Vew)
This punishment is not limited to Judah/Israel. The next few verses identify either symbolically or as identified who will suffer the same curses as will Israel. This is Zephaniah’s way of identifying the world as we know it today [see our closing comment per chapter 2]. This description and prophecy of desolation is two-fold. Desolation was historically accomplished by Assyrians, Babylonians (Chaldean’s), Greeks, and the Romans. Secondly, it is a sign of end time making this portion of Zephaniah a two-fold prophecy. Add to this history already completed “in the Day of the Lord” one has now identified to whom Zephaniah is speaking. First to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
Skip to Zephaniah 2:9. [Verses 4 through 8 are self-evident]. Although symbolic in name, these verses are as stated…God’s judgement. Verse 9 can be a study challenge. Per time and the calendar, Zephaniah is now speaking of a time long after the Children of Jacob (Israel) possessed the Promised Land. The Tribes of Gad, Manasseh, and Reuben had once possessed the lands of Ammon and Moab east of the Jordan River (but they failed to rid the lands of all these descendants of Lot). They eventually left it to the Assyrians. Zephaniah 2:9 is a prophecy well beyond his own current era. According to verse 9 God’s chosen will once again possess these lands. How can they once again possess what they already possessed? This passage simply means it is a future that has not yet materialized. This is End Time geography.
To better grasp this event, we need to break down the Hebrew of two words in this verse: residual of my people and the remnant of my people. The residual, she’êrı̂yth, and the remnant, yeh’-ther may seem to be two words of the same meaning but not so in Hebrew. She’êrı̂yth means those who had escaped or survived. Escaped or survived what? Yeh’-ther means the excess of the remainder. These Israelis shall possess, in the future, the lands of Ammon and Moab. Today this is still south-west Jordan.
JIV: Moab and Ammon fall within the boundaries of the New Jerusalem [1400 miles by 1400 miles – 12,000 strada/furlongs; Revelation 21:15-21).
We can be assured this is End Time and the Millennial Reign of God/Jesus by reading Zephaniah 2:11. When has all mankind ever worshiped God from his and her place up to verse 10? It hasn’t! This is a time yet to come. How else can this total man-kind worship be universal unless those who reject God be gone. Up to this time on earth, most mankind has and still does reject God.
Zephaniah 2:12 Why is it that the Ethiopians are directly mentioned but the Egyptians, Libya, and so many other nations are seemingly overlooked? In verse 12 the Assyrians to the north are mentioned. These places represent directions as to the north, south, east, and west. The world will be in judgement. All will see the new Jerusalem and recognize God for who he is. Earlier in this chapter Zephaniah has already identified a sense of direction to the west of Israel when he included the Philistines and those of Gaza.
Zephaniah 2:13 corroborates this idea of geography rather than actual fixed locations. The first line in verse 13 states: I will stretch out my hand (judgement) to the north.
We close this portion of Zephaniah with a quote from Dr. David Guzik:
Zephaniah never mentions why the nations are ripe for judgment. Perhaps he assumes we’ve already read Amos, Isaiah, and Nahum, which do detail the sins of these neighboring nations. HINT: “as in the time of Noah” (Matthew 24:37)
JIV: As we discussed earlier in this chapter, it probably isn’t the nations being judged as much as it is the people who have rejected God and his son Jesus. David Guzik is right-on per Amos, Isaiah, and Nahum. We have already written commentary on Amos and Nahum. They discuss the common sins of this world that is without God.
Rev. Dr. Jstark