1 This is the message that the Lord gave to Zephaniah. He received this message during the time that Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. Zephaniah was the son of Cushi, who was the son of Gedaliah. Gedaliah was the son of Amariah, who was the son of Hezekiah.
The Lord’s Day for Judging the People
2 The Lord says, “I will destroy everything on earth.[a] 3 I will destroy all the people and all the animals. I will destroy the birds in the air and the fish in the sea. I will destroy the evil people and everything that makes them sin. I will remove all people from the earth.” This is what the Lord said.
4 “I will punish Judah and the people living in Jerusalem. I will remove from this place any signs of Baal worship. No one will remember the priests who serve the idols there. 5 And those who go up on their roofs to worship the stars[b] will be forgotten. They worship me, the Lord, but they also use the name of the false god Milcom to make promises. 6 They have turned away from me, the Lord. They have stopped following me. They no longer ask me, the Lord, for help.”
7 Be silent before the Lord God, because the Lord’s day for judging the people is coming soon. The Lord has prepared his sacrifice, and he has told his invited guests to get ready.[c]
8 The Lord said, “On the Lord’s day of sacrifice, I will punish the king’s sons and other leaders. I will punish all the people wearing clothes from other countries. 9 At that time I will punish all the people who jump over the threshold[d] and those who fill their master’s house[e] with lies and violence.”
10 The Lord also said, “At that time people will be calling for help at Fish Gate in Jerusalem and mourning in the new part of town. They will hear the sound of destruction in the hills around the city. 11 You people living in the lower part of town will cry, because all the traders and rich merchants will be destroyed.
12 “At that time I will take a lamp and search through Jerusalem. I will find all those who are satisfied to live their own way. They say, ‘The Lord does nothing. He does not help, and he does not hurt!’ I will find them, and I will punish them. 13 Then others will take their wealth and destroy their houses. Those who built houses will not live in them, and those who planted vineyards will not drink the wine from the grapes.”
14 The Lord’s special day for judging is coming soon! It is near and coming fast. People will hear very sad sounds on the Lord’s special day of judgment. Even strong soldiers will cry. 15 The Lord will show his anger at that time. It will be a time of terrible troubles and a time of destruction. It will be a time of darkness—a black, cloudy, and stormy day. 16 It will be like a time of war when people hear horns and trumpets in the defense towers and protected cities.
17 The Lord said, “I will make life very hard on the people. They will walk around like the blind who don’t know where they are going. That will happen because they sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be spilled on the ground. Their dead bodies will lie like dung on the ground. 18 Their gold and silver will not help them! At that time the Lord will become very upset and angry. The Lord will destroy the whole world[f]! He will completely destroy everyone on earth!”
- Zephaniah 1:2 earth Or “the land” or “the country.” Also in verse 18.
- Zephaniah 1:5 stars Literally, “army of heaven.” This might mean the stars and planets or the angels.
- Zephaniah 1:7 prepared … get ready Literally, “prepared his sacrifice. He has made his called ones holy.” Here, this time of judgment is compared to a fellowship meal when priests offered a sacrifice to God and had the guests get ready for this special meal with God.
- Zephaniah 1:9 people wearing … threshold This probably means the priests and people who worshiped foreign gods, such as Dagon, or people who copied their ways of worshiping. See 1 Sam. 5:5.
- Zephaniah 1:9 master’s house This means the temple where the people worshiped God or their false gods.
- Zephaniah 1:18 world Or “land” or “country.”