Zephaniah 3:5



The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:5, “The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” What is the Lord in the midst of? To know that we would have to look at the Bible verses that came just before this one, and those Bible verses were talking about the wicked leaders of the nation of Israel. There are people who are not just, who are not righteous, and who are not good; but “The just LORD is in the midst thereof.” This speaks of God’s goodness and of God’s omnipresence. These should be comforting truths. We are talking about looking at the wicked leaders of a nation, and then perhaps being alarmed at what they are doing. God is there in the midst of them. Do not forget that. And God is good. They may not be good, but God is good. And God’s goodness is more powerful than their wickedness. That is why the plan of God will always go forth, and can never be stopped by anyone. God’s truth is marching on, and so is His goodness. His goodness is everywhere because God is everywhere. You can find good wherever you are, if you will look for it because it is there.


It says in verse 5, “every morning doth he bring his judgment to light.” What is going to happen today? The same thing that happened yesterday, and the same thing that is going to happen tomorrow: God brings His judgment to light. Yes, we live in a dark world, but there is light. There is always Light. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but he shall have the light of life.” God’s truth is going forth. His goodness is going forth, and God has a plan that He is putting into effect in this world. One thing about God’s plan as it says in Zephaniah 3:5, “he faileth not.” Jesus will not fail. He is working in every life: in my life and in your life. He will not fail. At the judgment it will be seen how will He succeeded in every plan that He had for every life.


Concerning the judgments that God has brought upon the unjust people of the earth, the Lord said in Zephaniah 3:6, “I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.” The very next verse in Zephaniah tells us why the Lord sometimes brings such judgment. God said in Zephaniah 3:7, “I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.” And so we see that the number one reason that God brought these judgments on people was so they would turn to Jesus and be saved. God tries every method possible to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He tries gentleness and kindness. He tries the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He tries speaking to them in a still, small voice. And yes, God tries judgment too. But in the end, each person is given their own choice. It is surprising how many choose to go away from God and never turn back to Him. As God said in the end of verse 7, “howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.


Continuing on the theme of God’s plan to have everyone in this world believe in Him, God says in Zephaniah 3:8-10, “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.[9] For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.[10] From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.” God makes His plan very clear. He says in verse 8, “my determination is to gather the nations.” God is interested in all of the nations. He wants to save all of them. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This event that is described in verse 8 is commonly called the Battle of Armageddon. Yes, the battle will be a great slaughter, but not everyone will be killed. Some will turn their hearts to the Lord. For those who are on the earth at that time, it will be one last chance to turn to Him.



Zephaniah 3:9 is a great verse. It explains God’s priority when it comes to human speech. It says, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” It is interesting what God calls “pure language.” Those that “call upon the name of the LORD” are using language in a way that it was designed for. Some people use language to complain. Some people use language to criticize others. Some people use language to curse. Some people use language to tell dirty jokes. Some people use language to lie. If they want to change their use of language to a pure language, then they need to “call upon the name of the LORD.” Of course, to call upon the name of the Lord is a requirement to be saved. It says in Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What is the name of the Lord? In the Old Testament it was Jehovah. In the New Testament it is Jesus. The Lord is God. The Lord is the eternally existent One. The Lord is the Savior. His name is Jesus.


The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:11, “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.” In the last days at the return of Christ the Jewish people will turn to the Lord Jesus en masse. They will all believe in Jesus the Savior. One of Jesus’ purposes in returning to the earth will be to save the Jews from imminent destruction. The reason that they will “not be ashamed” for their sinful actions is because they will be forgiven. That is one of the benefits of being a Christian. The Lord will take away the shame of your sinful deeds. That is no small blessing. If Jesus is your Savior, you can go through life with confidence and with a free conscience. Those who are not forgiven have the shame of their vile deeds upon them, and one day they will stand in shame before a holy God in judgment.


In talking about the wonderful future existence that God will establish upon this earth, one of the terrible sins that He will remove that makes things so bad on this earth in our age is the sin of pride. What were the Jewish people so proud about? They were proud of their religious tradition, and that was a major mistake. God said that they were “haughty” because of His holy mountain. They Jewish people knew the promises that were made to Abraham. But in a sinful way they became prideful of their human religious tradition, and they wrongly thought that they inherited through human lineage the blessings of God. That is very far from the truth. Each individual must become rightly related to God through their own confession of sin to the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can inherit through their family a right standing with God. That is what Jesus was talking about in John 3:5-7, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.[6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[7] Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” What you gain through human birth is of no spiritual value. You need a spiritual birth through Christ.


The ones who are most likely to obtain a spiritual birth are described in the next verse. The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:12, “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” It is the plain fact that those who are afflicted or poor are the ones who are the most likely to turn to the Lord Jesus. Those who are successful, healthy, or rich are not very likely to turn to the Lord because they just do not see any need. Jesus taught this truth many times in His teachings. Jesus said in Matthew 5:3-4, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Why did God allow some terrible things to happen to some people? It just might be that they were blessed because the final result of their poverty and their affliction will mean that they will see their need of God’s help, while other more fortunate individuals do not.


The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:13, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.


The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:14-16, “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.[15] The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. [16] In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.” God wants His children to be happy. He tells us to “sing,” “be glad,” and “rejoice with all the heart.” We can be happy, if we think of the spiritual truths. If you are a believer and not happy, then you why not? Verse 15 gives us reasons to be happy. The first is “The LORD hath taken away thy judgments.” This means you are forgiven of your sins through Christ. That is the number one reasons to be happy. The second reason to be happy is “he hath cast out thine enemy.” God has given you victory. Believe in the victory, claim it, and enjoy it. The third reason to be happy is that the Lord “is in the midst of thee.” Since the Almighty, eternal, loving God is always with you, why not be happy about it? Verse 16 gives two results of that will come when you live “happy” because of your faith in the spiritual truths that were just mentioned. The first is “Fear thou not.” You can live without fear. There are many fears that plague people, but you can be free of fear and full of confidence through faith in Christ. That is one of the benefits of being a Christian. But without that benefit people can become paralyzed by fear. Once the fear is gone, you will be set free to really accomplish what you were meant to accomplish in this life. That is why it says at the end of Zephaniah 3:16, “Let not thine hands be slack.” Do you have faith, and have your spiritual problems been straightened out? Then get busy doing God’s work.     


The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” This is a great Bible verse. In the verses just preceding this one we were told how happy we can be. Now we are told how happy God will be because of what He does for us in regards to His mercy and grace towards us. Jesus is the Savior because He loves to save souls. “He will save.” Anyone who is a true believer became a true believer for this very reason. They did not do anything. Jesus came to them and saved them because He is the Savior. This very states that God is Omnipotent and Omnipresent, and it says that God “will rest in his love.” That is an interesting phrase. What does it mean when someone “rests” in something. It means that is where they hang their hat. It means that is the basis for what they do. It means that when all else is done, you can look at this one thing and understand it as the basis for who they are and what they do. “God is love.” That is at the essence of His being. Why does God do one thing and not another: love. Why did God allow that thing that hurts and that I cannot understand: love. Why was Jesus sent into the world: love. Why has Jesus waited so long before He comes back and fixes everything: love.   


The last phrase of Zephaniah 3:17 makes a very interesting statement about God and what He does. It says, “he will joy over thee with singing.” God sings. When you think of God, do you think of God singing? What kind of songs does God sing? I bet He sings love songs. Human beings sing love songs about the love that is possible between a man and a woman. But even that love is symbolic of God’s love. One of the reasons that God gives you love from a husband or wife is to teach you about His love. The more you learn about true love, the more you will be learning about God. 


Zephaniah ends his writings with the following three verses. The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:18-20, “I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.[19] Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.[20] At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.” The Lord is giving us assurance about the future. What we experience now is temporary, and that fact should help us bear up under whatever cross we are called to bear. I think that is the emphasis of this passage. Christians will suffer persecution in this world. Look what they did to Jesus, and we are not above our Lord. But any shame that we suffer or persecution that we suffer will be more than made up to us. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for o persecutes they the prophets which were before you.”                                        



Copyright; 2015 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved