Zephaniah 1:1



The Bible says in Zephaniah 1:1-6, “The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.[2] I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.[3] I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.[4] I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;[5] And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;[6] And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.” Like most of the prophets of the Old Testament the book of Zephaniah starts with a pronouncement of judgment. This is one of the ways in which the New Testament is different than the Old Testament because the Old Testament is often about law, but the New Testament is usually about grace. It says in John 1:17, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Also, when we look at the messages of the prophets, the emphasis is often on how much the Israelites had disobeyed the law. The New Testament emphasizes the fact that Jesus kept the law, and that Jesus took our punishments upon Himself. Therefore, because of Christ, we will not be punished. Therefore, because of Christ, we have a bright future with God in heaven. Most of the New Testament writings start with wonderful statements about the blessings and benefits of being a Christian. Thank God that Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law.


But there is at least one way in which these judgments from the Old Testament are similar to one of the important teachings of the New Testament, and that has to do with the last period of the last days that is called the Great Tribulation. Right now we are in the age of grace, but the age of grace will end with the start of the Great Tribulation. The judgments that came upon Israel in the Old Testament symbolize the judgments that will come against the whole world at the end of the last days. Therefore, when we read these judgments that took place in the Old Testament and why they took place, we are not only reading about the past, but we are also reading about the future.


Zephaniah 1:2 and the first part of verse three tell us the extent of the judgment. It says, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD,” and “I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea.” In the phrase “utterly consume” God is saying that He will gather all things together for the purpose of bringing them to an end. All things are under God’s control. He gives life and He takes it. He gives prosperity and He takes it away. God is also making it very clear that one of the things that will make this judgment so very terrible is the fact that it will affect everything and everyone. God said, “I will consume man and beast.” From a prophetic standpoint, as we look to the future, this is what is in store for the earth during the Great Tribulation. Jesus said in Matthew 24:22, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.


Notice the phrase in Zephaniah 1:3 “and the stumblingblocks with the wicked.” God makes this phrase in the midst of telling about all that will be destroyed when the judgment comes. “Stumblingblocks” will be destroyed. A stumblingblock is when one person causes another person to fall. One of the sad characteristics of evil is that evil spreads from one person to another so easily. It is bad enough when one person sins, but the sins that such a person does will spread its tentacles and infect many others like a contagious disease. That is one of the reasons that the sins of the Hollywood industry, the entertainment industry, and corrupt politicians and judges are so bad. They bring down the rest of the nation because of the stumblingblocks that they have made by their actions and examples. Notice what Jesus said about those who cause others to fall. Jesus said in Mark 9:42, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” The word “offend” means to cause to fall or to be a stumblingblock.  


The second sin mentioned in the beginning of the book of Zephaniah that explains why the judgment came is the sin of false religion. It says in Zephaniah 1:4-5, “I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests. And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham.” False religion if any kind is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. God said in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”


Notice Zephaniah 1:6 and the two categories of people who also helped to bring the judgment of God upon the nation of Israel. It says, “And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.” The first are those who “are turned back from the LORD.” This implies that at one time they followed the Lord, but then tuned back. That is a terrible sin against the Lord. It means that at one time someone tasted the goodness of God and the mercy of Christ, but they eventually forgot what He did for them on the cross, and so they fell away. That is a great sin of forgetfulness and of not appreciating the sufferings of Christ. Sometimes it is hard to know if such a person really got saved or not. Only God knows. That is one of the reasons that there will be some surprises in heaven. There will be some people in heaven that no one thought would be there, and there will be some people missing from heaven that everyone thought would be there. It does seem certain that at least some of the people who go back from following God do so because they never were really saved. Perhaps the passage in Hebrews 6:4-8 is speaking of this category of people. It says, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,[5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,[6] If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.[7] For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:[8] But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.


The last part of Zephaniah 1:6 mentions, “those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.” For anyone who does not know the Lord Jesus, this is the ultimate reason that they do not: they chose not to seek Him. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” The key to all of this is very simple. Every person will find the truth in Christ if they want to find it. If they do not have that desire or that seeking, then they will not find Him. That same principle is true for any circumstance that you face in life. Seek the Lord, and you will find Him. Desire greatly that the Lord will open your eyes, or that He will comfort you, or that He will strengthen you, and your need will be met. How great your desire is will make the difference. People who have no desire to be close to Jesus will end up being godless people.  


The result of the land being full of people who do not seek the Lord will ultimately be the judgment of God as prophesied in the following verses. The Bible says in Zephaniah 1:7-8, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.[8] And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” Eventually, everyone will be told to hold their peace before God. In other words: be quiet. The world has a lot of meaningless noise going on. There is a lot of talking without action. All of the noise can drown out the voice of God. Sometimes people just need to sit down, be quiet, and listen. That is one of the values of hearing a good sermon. It gives you the opportunity of doing just that. God says in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Bible also says in Romans 14:11, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”


Notice that it says in Zephaniah 1:7, “for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.” “The day of the Lord” is the day of judgment. It is the day when the end comes. The day of the Lord is “at hand.” That means that it can come at any moment. Not only is everything in this life temporary, but it can all end very suddenly, at least as far as this age is concerned. Jesus can come back at any moment to rapture the church, and that event will change everything and start the ball rolling towards the final judgment that will happen just seven years after the rapture and the start of the Great Tribulation.  


Notice also that the last phrase of Zephaniah 1:7 says about God, “he hath bid his guests.” That is talking about what God is doing right now, before the day of the Lord gets here. He is bidding His guests. He is sending out His invitations. The question is: who will respond to His invitation. God’s invitation goes something like this: “I love you. I sent my Son Jesus to die for your sins. Won’t you believe on Jesus and become one of His followers?”     


The Bible says in Zephaniah 1:9-13, “In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.[10] And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.[11] Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.[12] And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.[13] Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.” This passage of scripture is talking very clearly about the day of the Lord. It says in verse 9, “in the same day.” It says in verse 10, “in that day.” And it says in verse 12, “And it shall come to pass at that time.” God says what He is going to do in the day of the Lord. He says in verse 9, “I will punish.” This is very clear that the day of Lord is the day of God’s wrath. God’s judgment and God’s vengeance and God’s punishment will come upon this earth. Right now we live in the age of grace: the age in which everyone is given an opportunity to turn to Jesus and be forgiven of their sins. But that opportunity will come to an end. God has always told believers to not take vengeance. God says, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.” The last day, the day of the Lord, is the time when that vengeance will come. It says in Revelation 6:16-17 about the people of the earth, “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?”


Notice what Zephaniah 1:12 says about the heart of the people of the earth who will be punished. It says about them, “that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.” These are people that have no faith. They view life as though God is not involved. Agnostics, atheists, unbelievers of all types, and those who call themselves Christians but who do not practice Christianity in their hearts fall into this category. They only see a natural world. They do not see the glory of God in His creation. They do not have a relationship with Jesus who is risen from the dead. They are unspiritual and therefore ungodly. The message to them about the Day of the Lord is this: Beware. The end is coming. The Judgment is coming. Turn to Jesus while there is time and opportunity.                               




Copyright; 2015 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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