Zephaniah 1

New American Standard Bible

• God’s judgment is announced (1:1-18) | God’s judgment on all the earth (1:1-3)

1:1 The word of the Lord
[concerning a universal judgment which will begin in Judah and ends with a promise of restoration] which came to Zephaniah [name means “Yahweh sheltered or stored up”; traced his ancestry back four generations] son of Cushi [personal name meaning “Cushite”], son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah [indicates Zephaniah was from a royal bloodline; the only prophet of royal descent], in the days of Josiah [reigned from 640 to 609 BC; instituted reforms in 621 BC to bring the nation back to God] son of Amon, king of Judah:

1:2 “I will completely remove [refers to the intensity and totality of destruction] all things
 from the face of the earth [expression used in reference to the flood in Gen. 6:7; 7:4],” declares the Lord.

1:3 “I will remove [note the thoroughness of destruction…] man and beast;
I will remove the birds of the sky

And the fish of the sea,

And the ruins along with the wicked;

And I will cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.

• God’s judgment on Judah (1:4-13)

1:4 “So I will stretch out My hand [a particular act of judgment] against Judah [Zephaniah preached message of judgment  at a time of religious reformation; God’s prophets saw farther and deeper]
And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And I will cut off the remnant of Baal [judgment aimed at totally eliminating Baalism] from this place,
And the names of the idolatrous priests along with the priests.

1:5 “And those who bow down on the housetops to the host of heaven [refers to astrologers; worship of the heavens was not allowed; a pagan practice],
And those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear by Milcom,

1:6 And those who have turned back from following the Lord,
And those who have not sought the Lord or inquired of Him.”

1:7 Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord [the day of reckoning; Judah had refused to draw near to God so God promised to draw near in judgment] is near,
For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice [Judah itself would be sacrificed for its own sins],
He has consecrated His guests [the other nations that God would use to punish Judah].

1:8 [the “sacrifice” of verse 7 is identified as including the following groups…] “Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
That I will punish the princes [they set a bad example for the people; bore responsibility for bad conditions in Jerusalem], the king’s sons And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments [indicative of the influence of pagan cultures on God’s people].

1:9 “And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold [a pagan practice (cf. 1 Sam. 5:5); Baal worshipers believed that evil spirits resided in the threshold of each pagan temple and therefore leaped over the threshold], Who fill the house of their lord [possible reference to the government being supported by unjust gain or could refer to supporting pagan places of worship] with violence and deceit [these words refer to what the powerful do to the weak; indicates a lack of justice].

1:10 “On that day [the Day of the Lord],” declares the Lord,
“There will be the sound of [1] a cry from the Fish Gate [located along the north wall], [2] A wail from the Second Quarter [located north of the Temple area], And [3] a loud crash from the hills [probably reference to Zion, Opel, Moriah or specifically to the temple mount].

1:11 “Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar [possible “market district” or a place where merchants gathered], For all the people of Canaan will be silenced; All [reference to the merchants or bankers] who weigh out silver will be cut off.

1:12 “It will come about at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps [clay oil lamps in use at the time; the people of Jerusalem would try in vain to hide],
And I will punish the men
Who are stagnant in spirit [who remained complacent and silent in the midst of a sinful generation],
Who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good or evil!’

1:13 “Moreover, their wealth will become plunder
And their houses desolate;
Yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them,
And plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”

• The day of the Lord is described (1:14-18)

1:14 Near [imminent] is the great day of the Lord,
Near and coming very quickly;
Listen, the day of the Lord!
In it the warrior cries out bitterly.

1:15 A day of wrath is that day,
A day of trouble and distress,
A day of destruction and desolation,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,

1:16 A day of trumpet and battle cry
Against the fortified cities
And the high corner towers.

1:17 I will bring distress on men
So that they will walk like the blind,
Because they have sinned against the Lord;
And their blood will be poured out like dust
And their flesh like dung.

1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold
Will be able to deliver them [the people would not be able to buy their way out of the impending judgment]
On the day of the Lord’s wrath;
And all the earth will be devoured
In the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make a complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

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