1 I am Zephaniah, the son of Cushi, the grandson of Gedaliah, the great-grandson of Amariah, and the great-great-grandson of Hezekiah.[a]
When Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah,[b] the Lord gave me this message.
Judgment on Judah
2 I, the Lord, now promise to destroy everything on this earth— 3 people and animals, birds and fish. Everyone who is evil will crash to the ground,[c] and I will wipe out the entire human race. 4 I will reach out to punish Judah and Jerusalem— nothing will remain of the god Baal;[d] nothing will be remembered of his pagan priests. 5 Not a trace will be found of those who worship stars from their rooftops, or bow down to the god Milcom,[e] while claiming loyalty to me, the Lord. 6 Nothing will remain of anyone who has turned away and rejected me.
7 Be silent! I am the Lord God, and the time is near. I am preparing to sacrifice my people and to invite my guests. 8 On that day I will punish national leaders and sons of the king, along with all who follow foreign customs.[f] 9 I will punish worshipers of pagan gods[g] and cruel palace officials who abuse their power.
10 I, the Lord, promise that on that day noisy crying will be heard from Fish Gate, New Town, and Upper Hills. 11 Everyone in Lower Hollow[h] will mourn loudly, because merchants and money changers will be wiped out. 12 I’ll search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those people who sit there unworried while thinking, “The Lord won’t do anything, good or bad.” 13 Their possessions will be taken, their homes left in ruins. They won’t get to live in the houses they build, or drink wine from the grapes in their own vineyards.
A Terrible Day
14 The great day of the Lord is coming soon, very soon. On that terrible day, fearsome shouts of warriors will be heard everywhere. 15 It will be a time of anger— of trouble and torment, of disaster and destruction, of darkness and despair, of storm clouds and shadows, 16 of trumpet calls and battle cries against fortified cities and mighty fortresses.
17 The Lord warns everyone who has sinned against him, “I’ll strike you blind! Then your blood and your insides will gush out like vomit. 18 Not even your silver or gold can save you on that day when I, the Lord, am angry. My anger will flare up like a furious fire scorching the earth and everyone on it.”
Turn to the Lord
2 You disgraceful nation, gather around, 2 before it’s too late. The Lord has set a time when his fierce anger will strike like a storm and sweep you away. 3 If you humbly obey the Lord, then come and worship him. If you do right and are humble, perhaps you will be safe on that day when the Lord turns loose his anger.
Judgment on Philistia
4 Gaza and Ashkelon will be deserted and left in ruins. Ashdod will be emptied in broad daylight, and Ekron[i] uprooted. 5 To you people of Philistia[j] who live along the coast, the Lord has this to say: “I am now your enemy, and I’ll wipe you out!”
6 Your seacoast will be changed into pastureland and sheep pens.[k] 7 The Lord God hasn’t forgotten those survivors in Judah, and he will help them— his people will take your land to use for pasture. And when evening comes, they will rest in houses at Ashkelon.[l]
Judgment on Moab and Ammon
8 The Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, said: I’ve heard Moab and Ammon insult my people and threaten their nation.[m] 9 And so, I swear by my very life that Moab and Ammon will end up like Sodom and Gomorrah— covered with thornbushes and salt pits forever. Then my people who survive will take their land. 10 This is how Moab and Ammon will at last be repaid for their pride— and for sneering at the nation that belongs to me, the Lord All-Powerful. 11 I will fiercely attack. Then every god on this earth will shrink to nothing, and everyone of every nation will bow down to me, right where they are.
Judgment on Ethiopia
12 People of Ethiopia,[n] the sword of the Lord will slaughter you!
Judgment on Assyria
13 The Lord will reach to the north to crush Assyria and overthrow Nineveh.[o] 14 Herds of wild animals will live in its rubble; all kinds of desert owls will perch on its stones and hoot in the windows. Noisy ravens will be heard inside its buildings, stripped bare of cedar.[p] 15 This is the glorious city that felt secure and said, “I am the only one!” Now it’s merely ruins, a home for wild animals. Every passerby simply sneers and makes vulgar signs.
3 Too bad for that disgusting, corrupt, and lawless city! 2 Forever rebellious and rejecting correction, Jerusalem refuses to trust or obey the Lord God. 3 Its officials are roaring lions, its judges are wolves; in the evening they attack, by morning nothing is left. 4 Jerusalem’s prophets are proud and not to be trusted. The priests have disgraced the place of worship and abused God’s Law. 5 All who do evil are shameless, but the Lord does right and is always fair. With the dawn of each day, God brings about justice.
6 The Lord wiped out nations and left fortresses crumbling in the dirt. Their streets and towns were reduced to ruins and emptied of people. 7 God felt certain that Jerusalem would learn to respect and obey him. Then he would hold back from punishing the city and not wipe it out. But everyone there was eager to start sinning again.
Nations Will Turn to the Lord
8 The Lord said: Just wait for the day when I accuse you nations. I have decided on a day, when I will bring together every nation and kingdom and punish them all in my fiery anger. I will become furious and destroy the earth.
9 I will purify each language and make those languages acceptable for praising me.[q] Then, with hearts united, everyone will serve only me, the Lord. 10 From across the rivers of Ethiopia,[r] my scattered people, my true worshipers, will bring offerings to me.
11 When that time comes, you won’t rebel against me and be put to shame. I’ll do away with those who are proud and arrogant. Never will any of them strut around on my holy mountain. 12 But I, the Lord, won’t destroy any of your people who are truly humble and turn to me for safety. 13 The people of Israel who survive will live right and refuse to tell lies. They will eat and rest with nothing to fear.
A Song of Celebration
14 Everyone in Jerusalem and Judah, celebrate and shout with all your heart! 15 Zion, your punishment is over. The Lord has forced your enemies to turn and retreat. Your Lord is King of Israel and stands at your side; you don’t have to worry about any more troubles.
16 Jerusalem, the time is coming, when it will be said to you: “Don’t be discouraged or grow weak from fear! 17 The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”[s]
The Lord’s Promise to His People
18 The Lord has promised: Your sorrow has ended, and you can celebrate.[t] 19 I will punish those who mistreat you. I will bring together the lame and the outcasts, then they will be praised, instead of despised, in every country on earth. 20 I will lead you home, and with your own eyes you will see me bless you with all you once owned. Then you will be famous everywhere on this earth. I, the Lord, have spoken!
1.9worshipers. . . gods: The Hebrew text has “all who jump over the threshold,” which was a Philistine religious practice (see 1 Samuel 5.5).
1.10,11Fish Gate, New Town, and Upper Hills. . . Lower Hollow: Names for different sections of Jerusalem: Fish Gate was probably the main gate on the north side of the city; New Town was a newer section; Upper Hills may have been a suburb north of the city; Lower Hollow was probably on the southern edge of town.
2.4Gaza. . . Ekron: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath (not mentioned because it was already destroyed) were the five major Philistine towns.
2.5people of Philistia: The Hebrew text also mentions “Canaan” and “Cherethites,” which are other ways of referring to the Philistines.
2.6pens: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
2.7Ashkelon: A Philistine town; see the note at 2.4.
2.8threaten their nation: Or “boast about their own nation.”
2.12Ethiopia: The Hebrew text has “Cush,” which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
2.13Nineveh: The capital of Assyria; Nineveh was protected by a moat filled with water from the nearby Tigris River.
2.14stripped. . . cedar: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
3.9I will. . . praising me: Or “I will change the hearts of all people and make them fit for praising me.”
16 From the temple I heard a voice shout to the seven angels, “Go and empty the seven bowls of God’s anger on the earth.”
2 The first angel emptied his bowl on the earth. At once ugly and painful sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and worshiped the idol.
3 The second angel emptied his bowl on the sea. Right away the sea turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
4 The third angel emptied his bowl into the rivers and streams. At once they turned to blood. 5 Then I heard the angel, who has power over water, say,
“You have always been, and you always will be the holy God. You had the right to judge in this way. 6 They poured out the blood[a] of your people and your prophets. So you gave them blood to drink, as they deserve!” 7 After this, I heard the altar shout, “Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, your judgments are honest and fair.”
8 The fourth angel emptied his bowl on the sun, and it began to scorch people like fire. 9 Everyone was scorched by its great heat, and all of them cursed the name of God who had power over these terrible troubles. But no one turned to God and praised him.
10 The fifth angel emptied his bowl on the throne of the beast. At once darkness covered its kingdom, and its people began biting their tongues in pain. 11 And because of their painful sores, they cursed the God who rules in heaven. But still they did not stop doing evil things.
12 The sixth angel emptied his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it completely dried up to make a road for the kings from the east. 13 An evil spirit that looked like a frog came out of the mouth of the dragon. One also came out of the mouth of the beast, and another out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 These evil spirits had the power to work miracles. They went to every king on earth, to bring them together for a war against God All-Powerful. But that will be the day of God’s great victory.
15 Remember that Christ says, “When I come, it will surprise you like a thief! But God will bless you, if you are awake and ready. Then you won’t have to walk around naked and be ashamed.”
16 Those armies came together in a place that in Hebrew is called Armagedon.[b]
17 As soon as the seventh angel emptied his bowl in the air, a loud voice from the throne in the temple shouted, “It’s done!” 18 There were flashes of lightning, roars of thunder, and the worst earthquake in all history. 19 The great city of Babylon split into three parts, and the cities of other nations fell. So God made Babylon drink from the wine cup that was filled with his anger. 20 Every island ran away, and the mountains disappeared. 21 Hailstones, weighing about a hundred pounds each, fell from the sky on people. Finally, the people cursed God, because the hail was so terrible.
16.6They poured out the blood: A way of saying, “They murdered.”
16.16Armagedon: The Hebrew form of the name would be “Har Megiddo,” meaning “Hill of Megiddo,” where many battles were fought in ancient times (see Judges 5.19; 2 Kings 23.29,30).
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