1 The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of [a]Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah:
2 “I will completely consume and sweep away all things From the face of the earth [in judgment],” says the Lord. 3 “I will consume and sweep away man and beast; I will consume and sweep away the birds of the air And the fish of the sea, And the [b]stumbling blocks (idols) along with the wicked; And I will cut off and destroy man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. 4 “I will also stretch out My hand [in judgment] against Judah And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will cut off and destroy the remnant of [c]Baal from this place, And the names and remembrance of the idolatrous priests along with the [false] priests, 5 And those who bow down and worship the host of heaven [the sun, the moon, and the stars] [d]on their housetops And those who bow down and swear [oaths] to [and pretend to worship] the Lord and [yet also] swear by [the pagan god called] Milcom [god of the Ammonites], 6 And those who have turned back from following the Lord, And those who have not sought the Lord [as their most important need] or inquired of Him.”
7 [Hush!] Be silent before the Lord God [there is no acceptable excuse to offer]! For the day [of the vengeance] of the Lord is near, For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice (Judah), He has set apart [for His use] those who have accepted His invitation [the Chaldeans who rule Babylon]. 8 “Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice That I will punish the princes and the king’s sons And all who are clothed in [lavish] foreign apparel [reflecting their paganism]. 9 “On that day I will also punish all those who [e]leap over the temple threshold, Who fill their [pagan] lord’s temple with violence and deceit. 10 “On that day,” declares the Lord, “There will be the sound of crying from the Fish (Damascus) Gate [in the northern wall of Jerusalem where invaders enter] And wailing from the [f]Second Quarter [of the city], And a loud crash from the hills. 11 “Wail [in anguish], you inhabitants of the [g]Mortar (Valley of Siloam), For all the merchants of Canaan will be silenced and destroyed; All who weigh out silver will be cut off. 12 “It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps And I will punish the men Who [like old wine] are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’ 13 “Furthermore, their wealth will become plunder And their houses a desolation. Yes, they will build houses but not live in them, And plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”
14 The great [judgment] day of the Lord is near, Near and coming very quickly. Listen! The [voice of the] day of the Lord! The warrior cries out bitterly [unable to fight or to flee]. 15 That day is a day of [the outpouring of the] wrath [of God], A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and devastation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and the battle cry [of invaders] Against the fortified cities And against the high corner towers (battlements). 17 I will bring distress on men So that they will walk like the blind [unable to find a way of escape], Because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood will be poured out like dust [and trampled underfoot], And their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to rescue them On the day of the Lord’s indignation and wrath. And the whole earth will be consumed In the fire of His jealous [h]wrath, For He shall make a full and complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Judgments on Judah’s Enemies
2 Gather yourselves together [in repentance], yes, gather [in submission], O nation without shame, 2 Before the decree takes effect [and the time for repentance is lost]— The day passes like the chaff [whirled by the wind]— Before the burning and fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, Before the day of the wrath of the Lord comes upon you. 3 Seek the Lord [search diligently for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life], All you humble of the land Who have practiced His ordinances and have kept His commandments; Seek righteousness, seek humility [regard them as vital]. Perhaps you will be hidden [and pardoned and rescued] In the day of the Lord’s anger.
4 For [this is the fate of the Philistines:] Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; [The people of] Ashdod will be driven out at noon [in broad daylight] And Ekron will be uprooted and destroyed. 5 Woe (judgment is coming) to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites [in Philistia]! The word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines; I will destroy you So that no inhabitant will be left. 6 So the [depopulated] seacoast shall be pastures, With [deserted] meadows for shepherds and folds for flocks. 7 The [i]seacoast will belong To the remnant of the house of Judah; They will pasture [their flocks] on it. In the [deserted] houses of Ashkelon [in Philistia] they [of Judah] will lie down and rest in the evening, For the Lord their God will care for them; And restore their fortune [permitting them to occupy the land].
8 “I have heard the taunting of Moab And the revilings of the sons of Ammon, With which they have taunted My people And become arrogant against their territory [by violating Israel’s boundary and trying to seize its land]. 9 “Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts, The God of Israel, “[j]Moab will in fact become like Sodom And the [k]sons of Ammon like Gomorrah, A land possessed by nettles and salt pits, And a perpetual desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them And what is left of My nation will inherit them [as their own].”
10 This they shall have in return for their pride, because they have taunted and become arrogant against the people of the Lord of hosts. 11 The Lord will be terrifying and awesome to them, for He will starve all the gods of the earth; and all the coastlands of the nations will bow down and worship Him, everyone from his own place.
12 “You also, O Ethiopians, will be slain by My sword.” 13 And the Lord will stretch out His hand against the north And destroy Assyria, And He will make Nineveh a desolation [a wasteland], Parched as the desert. 14 Flocks will lie down in her midst, All the animals which range in herds; Both the pelican and the short-eared owl Will roost on the top of Nineveh’s pillars. Birds will sing in the window, Desolation will be on the threshold; For He has uncovered the cedar paneling. 15 This is the joyous city Which dwells carelessly [feeling so secure], Who says in her heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” What a desolation she has become, A lair for [wild] animals! Everyone who passes by her will hiss [in scorn] And wave his hand in contempt.
Woe to Jerusalem and the Nations
3 Woe (judgment is coming) to her who is rebellious and defiled, The tyrannical city [Jerusalem]! 2 She did not listen and heed the voice [of God]; She accepted no correction. She did not trust in the Lord [but trusted her own power]; She did not draw near to her God [but to the pagan gods of Baal or Molech]. 3 Her officials within her are roaring lions; Her judges are [as hungry as] the wolves at evening, They leave nothing for the morning. 4 Her prophets are reckless and treacherous men; Her priests have profaned the sanctuary; They have done violence to the law [by pretending their word is God’s word]. 5 The Lord is righteous within her; He will do no injustice. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He does not fail. But the unjust person knows no shame. 6 “I [the Lord] have cut off and destroyed nations [as a warning to Judah]; Their corner towers (battlements) are in ruins. I have made their streets desolate So that no one passes by; Their cities are destroyed So that there is no man, there is no inhabitant. 7 “I said, ‘Most certainly you will [reverently] fear Me; Accept correction.’ So Jerusalem’s dwelling will not be cut off In accordance with all that I have appointed concerning her [punishment], But they were eager [even rising early] to make all their deeds corrupt.
8 “Therefore [you of the godly remnant of Judah, patiently] wait for Me,” declares the Lord, “[Wait] for the day when I rise up as a witness [against the nations]. For it is My decision and My right to gather the nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All [the heat of] My burning anger; For [in that day] all the earth shall be consumed By the fire of My zeal. 9 “Then I will give to the peoples [clear and pure speech from] purified lips [which reflect their purified hearts], That all of them may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder (united). 10 “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, [the descendants of] My dispersed ones, Will bring My offerings. 11 “On that day you [Israel] will feel no shame Because of all your acts By which you have rebelled and sinned against Me; Then I will remove from among you Your rejoicing ones who delight in their pride; And you will never again behave arrogantly On My holy mountain [Mount Zion].
A Remnant of Israel
12 “But I will leave among you A humble and lowly people, And they will take refuge and trust confidently in the name of the Lord. 13 “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong Nor speak lies, Nor will a deceitful tongue Be found in their mouths; For they will eat and lie down With no one to make them tremble and feel afraid.”
14 Shout for joy, O Daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice, be in high spirits and glory with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem [in that day]! 15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, even the Lord [Himself], is in your midst; You will no longer fear disaster. 16 In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. 17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. 18 “I will gather those [Israelites in captivity] who grieve about the appointed feasts— They came from you, [O Zion]; On whom the reproach [of exile] is a burden. 19 “Behold, at that time I am going to deal With all your oppressors; I will save the lame And gather the scattered, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In every land [where they have suffered]. 20 “At that time I will bring you in, Yes, at the time I gather you together; For I will make you a name and a praise Among all the peoples of the earth When I restore your fortunes [and freedom] before your eyes,” Says the Lord.
Zephaniah 1:1Zephaniah’s great-great-grandfather, Hezekiah, ruled Judah (the Southern Kingdom) from 715-686 b.c. He was a godly king who restored the temple and abolished pagan worship. He was also notable as the great warrior who defended Jerusalem from the attacking Assyrians, and the great builder who developed the Siloam tunnel and reservoir to enhance the fresh water supply of Jerusalem.
Zephaniah 1:18God’s judgment and God’s mercy are the twin themes of the prophets. In this dramatic passage, the Lord describes the destruction that will sweep the earth in the day of His wrath. Yet the Lord is true to His promises: the remnant will be restored (Zeph 3:18-20); the last day is also “the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). See also Matt 24:31; John 14:3; 1 Thess 4:15-17.
Zephaniah 2:7This is one of the more than twenty-five details of Bible prophecy about the promised land that has been literally fulfilled. See note Ezek 26:14 for information about a similar fulfillment of Bible prophecy with regard to Tyre.
Zephaniah 2:9The descendants of Lot and his elder daughter (Gen 19:37).
Zephaniah 2:9Descendants of Lot and his younger daughter (Gen 19:38).
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