Zephaniah 2:4-3:20 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jerusalem's Future
Comments for Study 2

Zephaniah 2:4-3:20
Memory Verse: 3:17


I. Against Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush, and Assyria (2:4-15)

Ashkelon sarcophagus

See an Ashkelon sarcophagus in Ashkelon, Israel in the Antique's Yard to the right.

>1. Where was Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron?

* Zephaniah 2:4 "Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins. At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted."

* "Gaza" -Gaza is about fifty miles (80km) south west of Jerusalem, just off the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the five chief Philistine cities mentioned in the Old Testament. According to Joshua it was within Judah's original border. (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 10:41, 11:22, 15:45-47; Judges 1:18)

* "Ashkelon" -Ashkelon is about forty-fifty miles (70km) south west of Jerusalem and north of Gaza, just off the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the five chief Philistine cities mentioned in the Old Testament. According to Joshua it was within Judah's original border. (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 10:41, 11:22, 15:45-47; Judges 1:18)

* "Ashdod" -Ashdod is about forty miles (65km) south west of Jerusalem, just off the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the five chief Philistine cities mentioned in the Old Testament. According to Joshua it was within Judah's original border. (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 10:41, 11:22, 15:45-47; Judges 1:18)

* "Ekron" -Ekron is about forty miles (65km) west of Jerusalem. Ekron and Gath were the only two Philistine city not on the Mediterranean Sea. Ekron was one of the five chief Philistine cities mentioned in the Old Testament. According to Joshua it was within Judah's original border. (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 10:41, 11:22, 15:45-47; Judges 1:18)

* The five major Philistine cities were Ashkelon, Gaza, Gath, Ekron, and Ashdod. (Josh. 13:1-3)

* In the 620s B.C. the Scythians (outlandish barbarians) invaded Canaan. They came quickly on horses from southern Russia (just north of Assyria). They destroyed the Philistine cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, going along the Mediterranean Sea and right past Judah. They went as far as the Egyptian boarder who paid them off to stop them from destroying them. The appearance of a new powerful force from seemingly nowhere provided the backdrop to Zephaniah's prophecy.

>Where were Kereth and Canaan? (5-6)

* Zephaniah 2:5-6 "Woe to you who live by the sea, O Kerethite people; the word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines. "I will destroy you, and none will be left." The land by the sea, where the Kerethites dwell, will be a place for shepherds and sheep pens."

* "Live by the sea" -The Mediterranean Sea, also called The Great Sea.

* "Kerethite" -Kerethite is translated by the NIV and REB. The KJV translates it Cherethites. The Kerethites lived south of or within the Philistines territory. (1 Sam. 30:14) They were probably related to or paid soldiers for the Philistines. Crete may have been their original home. David used some of these soldiers as a personal bodyguard. (2 Sam. 8:18) Ezekiel pronounced judgment on them (Ezek. 25:16) as did Zephaniah here. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "Canaan" -Canaan was named after one of Noah's grandsons. Ham was the father of Canaan. Gen. 9:25-27 records Noah saying, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.' He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.'" The Canaanites were warlike people who sacrificed infants. In general Canaan was the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River reaching from the brook of Egypt to the area around Ugarit in Syria or to the Euphrates. This represents descriptions in Near Eastern documents and in the Old Testament. Apparently, Canaan meant different things at different times. Numbers 13:29 limits Canaanites to those who dwell by the sea and by the coast of Jordan.” Joshua 11:3 defines it as, "the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah."

* Gen 10:15-19 says, "Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha."

* "shepherds and sheep pens" -The would be no city of significant size left.

Zephaniah Crossword

* The crossword puzzle to the right contains a hidden message. The answers come mostly from the book of Zephaniah. To print out right click over the puzzle and pick "View Image" or "Print". This should bring up a new window from where you can pick "File" and then "Print". Click here fore the answer.

>Who will be the future owners of these lands? (7)

* Zephaniah 2:7 "It will belong to the remnant of the house of Judah; there they will find pasture. In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The LORD their God will care for them; he will restore their fortunes."

* "It will belong to" -They will be giving and live in all the lands from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the desert east of the Jordan.

* "the remnant" -The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Haggai, Zephaniah, and Zechariah write of the remnant. The remnant make it through the day of the Lord's wrath by grace, people who are left over after God's judgement. The remnant are people who accept his call and remain so even though the majority do not. For the prophets the remnant refer most specifically to true Israel.

Some Christians have used the term remnant to refer to themselves. Can the Gentiles who are "grafted into Israel" by grace through faith in Jesus be called a remnant? The Hebrew and Greek words for remnant appear in both the Old and New Testament. Noah and his family were remnant from the judgment of the flood though the word is not used. (Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-23) Lot was remnant of Sodom, but again the word is not used. (Genesis 18:17-33; 19:1-29) The first time the word is used concerns the Israelites who went to Egypt. Joseph called Israel a remnant from all the people who perished because of drought. He said to his brothers, "For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance." (Genesis 45:6-7) Also, Og the Gentile king was called a remnant of the Rephaites. (Deuteronomy 3:11) So a remnant is a person or a small group who is saved by grace from the larger whole who perish during the wrath of the Lord. In that respect Christians are a remnant who are saved by grace through Jesus. Jesus calls them the few who follow the narrow road. (Matthew 7:13-14)

When the prophets speak of the remnant are they speaking to survivors from Israel, Judah, and the church? It seems that they are speaking of only a remnant from Israel and/or Judah. (2 Kings 19:4, 30-31, 21:10-15; 2 Chronicles 34:9, 21, 36:20) James made a distinction between the remnant and the Gentile believers. During the council in Jerusalem which met to consider the Gentiles who were putting faith in Jesus quoted the prophets. James said, "Simon (Peter) has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: "'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things' that have been known for ages." (Acts 15:14-18)

Paul, a Benjamite called himself a remnant because he believed in Jesus. He writes, "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace... Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!" (Romans 11:1-12) Paul quoted from Hosea and from Isaiah to demonstrate that the saving of a remnant from among the Jewish people was still part of the Lord's method of redeeming His people. There would always be a future for anyone among the covenant people who would truly turn to the Lord for salvation. They were remnant survivors because the Lord chose to show mercy to those who had believed steadfastly in Him and had been righteous in their lives. The same will be true during the day of the Lord's wrath; there will be a remnant who survive and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air as he returns to the earth to establish his worldwide kingdom.

Today's Dictionary of the Bible (T.A. Bryant) states, "Remnant has three basic meanings in Scripture:
    a) A group of people who survive military or political turmoil (Joshua 12:4 concerning the race of giants in Bashan; the nations surrounding early Israel, Joshua 13:12; the Amorites in 2 Samuel 21:2; and Jeroboam's dynasty in 1 Kings 14:1-)
    b) A portion of meat, oil, or other sacrifice left for the priests as their proper portion (Leviticus 2:3, 5:13, 14:18)
    c) A prophetic designation referring to the core of Israel who survive God's judgment to become the nucleus of the new people of God (Isaiah 10:20-23, 11:11-12; Jeremiah 32:38-39; Zephaniah 3:13; Zechariah 8:12) The whole idea of the survival of a "righteous remnant" implies God's care of his "chosen people" (2 Kings 19:31; Isaiah 10:22, 37:31; Ezekiel 6:8; Joel 2:32; Micah 2:12). Isaiah is the principal proponent of the "righteous remnant" concept, and Paul picks up his emphasis and applies it to the Church (Romans 9:27).
The New Compact Bible Dictionary (T. Alton Bryant) almost repeats a) and c) above.

* A multiple fulfillment of this prophecy may have included all these three occupations of Philistia by Jews:
    a) in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians allowed some Jews to remain in the land
    b) in 538 B.C. when the Jews returned from exile under the order of Cyrus king Persia
    c) in the end times.
Most prophecies of the day of the Lord have multiple fulfillment so the Israelites would know that the message was from the Lord and so preserve it. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

* "they will find pasture... they will lie down in the houses" -A picture of blessing, peace and rest.

* "The LORD their God will care for them; he will restore their fortunes" -Did the any of the three groups mentioned above see this?

>2. Who were the Moabites and Ammonites? (8; Gen. 19:36-38; Num. 22:4-6)

* Zephaniah 2:8 "I have heard the insults of Moab and the taunts of the Ammonites, who insulted my people and made threats against their land."

* "Ammonite" -The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:36-38). They lived east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea (Salt Sea). The Israelites were not to destroy them when going to the promised land. Eventually they became an enemy of Israel, trying to take parts of the promised land from Israel.

* "Moabites" -The Moabites were descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:36-38; Deut. 2:9-23). They lived east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea (Salt Sea). David's parents were placed there while Saul was chasing David. They were a cursed people. But Ruth, David's great grand mother was a Moabites and not cursed because she believed in the Lord God by faith.

* Genesis 19:36-38 "So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

* Numbers 22:4-6 "The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, "This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field." So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the River, in his native land. Balak said: "A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed."

Moab Mesha stele

See a 9th century B.C. Mesha Stele, inscribed in the Moabite language by king Mesha of Moab to the right. The stele describes King Mesha's wars against the Israelites.

>What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? (9; Gen. 18:20-21, 32, 19:24-25)

* Zephaniah 2:9 "Therefore, as surely as I live," declares the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, "surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah-- a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever. The remnant of my people will plunder them; the survivors of my nation will inherit their land."

* Genesis 18:20-21 "Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

* Genesis 18:32 "Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."

* Genesis 19:24-25 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land."

* "The remnant of my people" -The remnant is a common subject of the prophets with the number of verses as follows: 10 in Isaiah, 18 in Jeremiah, 2 in Ezekiel, 2 in Amos, 5 in Micah, 4 in Zephaniah, 3 in Haggai, and 3 in Zechariah. See question 1 above for more on the remnant.

* "will plunder them" -The faithful remnant of Judah will have Ammon's and Moab's possessions.

* "the survivors of my nation will inherit their land" -The faithful remnant of Judah will ultimately possess Moab and Ammon.

* The ultimate fulfillment of this is when Jesus comes again.

>What had Lot's descendants not learned from Sodom? (10)

* Zephaniah 2:10 This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the LORD Almighty."

* "pride" -Pride is believing that by one's own ability they provided everything they have. It is self sufficient and in control of one's own destiny. Its belief one is better than others. Its believing even if one is knocked down they will be able to get back up on their own ability. At its core it is rebellion agianst the author and sustainer of life, the one and only true God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

* "insulting and mocking the people of the Lord Almighty" -Pride leads to putting down others. Jesus said, "They hated me without reason." (John 15:25) He also said, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22)

>When will most in the generation alive when Jesus come learn the truth? (11)

* Zephaniah 2:11 "The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land. The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land."

* "The LORD will be awesome to them" -Respect for Jesus.

* "when he destroys all the gods of the land" -When Jesus comes again, when he appears and comes in the clouds of heaven will people realize that he is God.

* "The nations on every shore" -The whole world will see Jesus coming.

* "every one in its own land" -The world is a sphere. Some believe technology will make this possible. It is more likely that Jesus' descent will be slow, at least a full day.

>3. Who were the Cushites" (12)

* Zephaniah 2:12 "You too, O Cushites, will be slain by my sword."

* "Cushites" -Genesis 10:6-7 indicates that Cush first migrated southward into Arabia. Moses wife was a Cushite. (Numbers 12:1) Then they crossed the Red Sea into the land now known as Ethiopia; the upper Nile region, part of ancient and modern day Egypt. (2 Chronicles 14:9-10; Esther 1:2; Nahum 3:8-9; Isaiah 20:4, 9) In the Bible they are called Cushites or Ethiopians. The Tell el Amarna tablets call this land "Kashi". Cushan were a tent-dwelling people Habakkuk 3:7 saw as experiencing God's wrath. The parallel there with Midian makes people think of an Arabian tribe, possibly nomads. Some identify Cushan with Cush, either as a territory controlled by Cush or as an otherwise unknown kingdom of Cush on the north-east shore of the Gulf of Aqabah near Midian. This would account for Cushites near Arabs (2 Chron. 21:16).

>Who were the Assyrians? (13)

* Zephaniah 2:13 "He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert."

Nineveh sketch

* See a sketch of the Assyrian city Ashur to the right. This prophecy of Zephaniah was fulfilled only twelve years after the death of Ashurbanipal. The Chaldeans, one of whom had been Merodach-baladan, the ally of King Hezekiah of Judah, had succeeded at last after a long and fruitless struggle against their mortal enemies the Assyrians, in making themselves masters of Babylon, and had allied themselves with a people from Iran, the Medes. The first city to fall before their joint assault was Ashur, which was taken in 614 B.C. This reconstruction shows the north-west side of this impressive metropolis. The oldest of the great cities of the Assyrian empire, lying on the west side of the Tigris, with its massive Temple of the god Ashur, who was its patron deity. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

* Assyria was the world power. They had defeated all the nations that surrounded them and often not only killed the survivors but made their death painful. Israel, the northern kingdom was defeated, totally destroyed, it's people deported, and the area was resettled all at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

* "Nineveh" -Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria in Zephaniah's time. It was over five hundred miles (800km) away from the Mediterranean coast. Nineveh was the largest city in the world at the time with over 600,000 people in the greater area. Nineveh was a conglomerate of several cities all located within a large wall. The five main cities were Nineveh, Rehoboth, Ir, Calah, and Resen. (Gen 10:11-12) These five cities were within a 60 mile (100km) circumference. Nimrod was the founder of the Babylonian empire, the conqueror of Assyria, and the builder of Nineveh (Genesis 10:8-11). Around 700 B.C. Sennacherib made Nineveh the capital of Assyria and it remained the capital until Babylon (the Chaldean and the Mede alliance) conquered it in 612 B.C.

* Nineveh was know for many sins including witchcraft, sexual immorality, paganism, cruelty and plundering in war, prostitution, and commercial exploitation. All peoples and nations feared Nineveh and the Assyrians in this time period.

* The Lord had sent Jonah to Nineveh around one hundred years before Zephaniah and Nahum.

* Nahum, a generation before Zephaniah and who he may have known, wrote about Nineveh's fall in great detail.

>What will their land be like?

* Zephaniah 2:14-15 "Flocks and herds will lie down there, creatures of every kind. The desert owl and the screech owl will roost on her columns. Their calls will echo through the windows, rubble will be in the doorways, the beams of cedar will be exposed. This is the carefree city that lived in safety. She said to herself, "I am, and there is none besides me." What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists."

* "utterly desolate and dry as the desert" -Very true as the ruins now show.

* "the carefree city that lived in safety" -Nineveh believed no one could defeat them. The city walls were massive.

II. My Scattered People (3:1-13)

>4. Who does chapter three's prophecy concern? (14)

* Zephaniah 3:14 "Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!"

* "Jerusalem" -Zephaniah 1:2-2:3 concerns judgment against Judah. Zephaniah 2:4-15 concerns judgement against the nations. Zephaniah 3:1-7 concerns judgement against Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah. 3:8 can be considered a conclusion to the judgements as 1:2-3 was its opening statement; both being similar. The rest of the book deals with salvations, restoration, and the remnant of Judah and Jerusalem.

* "Sing... shout aloud... be glad and rejoice" -After we are delivered all our being will worship.

* "Daughter of Zion" -Zion is a name of the mountain Jerusalem was built on. The Daughter of Zion refers to its citizens.

>What kind of life did the people within the Lord's chosen city live? (1-2)

* Zephaniah 3:1-2 "Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God."

* "Woe" -Woe means deep sorrow according to the Webster's dictionary. In the Bible woe means more than that. Woe is an expression of sorrow because of known trouble, misfortune and destruction to come because one has not obeyed and/or accepted God and his word.

* "the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled" -Jerusalem which is identified by name in verse 14. Three names are substituted here for Jerusalem followed by three sins. Jerusalem was meant to be the city of peace, the city where the people could come to worship and inquire of the Lord.

* "She obeys no one, she accepts no correction" -They did not listen to the prophets of the Lord. They did not repent.

* "She does not trust in the LORD" -They trusted in their own abilities and wealth.

* "she does not draw near to her God" -They did not seek the Lord's will. This could have been obtained through the dreams, the prophets, the high priest who wore the urim and thummim, and his word. (1 Samuel 28:6) How do we seek the Lord and his will in this age (the age of preaching the gospel, the age of grace, the age of the church)? "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7) How will he answer us? Through the Holy Spirit, through his word, through spiritual elders in Christ, and dreams and visions. I have to admit that it is not easy to distinguish these at times. I want to follow, but the Lord wants me to make decisions of faith. He tests us at times to see what is in our hearts.

>What were the religious and civil leaders like? (3-4)

* Zephaniah 3:3-4 "Her officials are roaring lions, her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. Her prophets are arrogant; they are treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law."

* "officials" -civil leaders, government bureaucrats.

* "rulers" -Judah's elders and kings.

* "prophets" -Those assigned to deliver the Lord's word.

* "priests" -Those assigned to service the Lord in his temple.

* "roaring lions... evening wolves... arrogant... treacherous... profane... violence" -The civil and religious leaders were steep in sin. Is today any different?

>5. What was the contrast between the Lord and the people in his chosen city? (5)

* Zephaniah 3:5 "The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame."

* "The Lord within her" -The Lord's temple was within Jerusalem. The temple was a place where people could go to worship the Lord. The temple was the place where sacrifices were made. the temple was the center place for the feasts which point to the Christ, Jesus our Lord. The temple was referred to as the footstool of God who relm and throne is in heaven.

* "is righteous; he does no wrong" -The judgement to come to Jerusalem would not be wrong.

* "Morning by morning... every new day" -A poetic way to say all the time.

* "dispenses his justice... does not fail" -The Lord's justice is his justice and it is right. At times we do not understand why things happen and do not happen. We don't know the whole picture. We don't know all the facts. We do not know people's characters. We know very little and what we do know often is not correct. Why? So that we can show our love by living by faith in the Lord. Living by faith is hard for sinful man, but it's better than the alternative.

* "the unrighteous know no shame" -They sin and do not believe it is wrong. They are bold in their sin. They live like the Lord does not dispense justice. They don't live by faith.

>what had the Lord done to the cities around Jerusalem? (6)

* Zephaniah 3:6 "I have cut off nations; their strongholds are demolished. I have left their streets deserted, with no one passing through. Their cities are destroyed; no one will be left--no one at all."

* "I have cut off nations" -The Lord uses Assyria to bring down even the strongest of cities and nations.

* "no one will be left--no one at all" -Just as Damascus, Thebes, and other cities were empty, so Jerusalem would be empty. This was fulfilled twelve years after Zephaniah relayed this message to Jerusalem.

>How did it's people respond?

* Zephaniah 3:7 "I said to the city, 'Surely you will fear me and accept correction!' Then her dwelling would not be cut off, nor all my punishments come upon her. But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did."

* "Surely you will fear me and accept correction!" -Once they heard Zephaniah's message which logically showed them how no other city on all sides of Jerusalem withstood Assyria and the Lord was using the Assyrians, Jerusalem should have repented.

* "Then her dwelling would not be cut off" -If they would have repented the Lord would not have brought judgment against Jerusalem. This is what happened in King Hezekiah's time.

* "eager to act corruptly" -Jerusalem did not repent. They went out of their way to do evil.

* All around the world I hear and see that people are just like those in Zephaniah's time.

Earth Fire

>6. What is the Lord's response to the stubborn heart of those he calls but who reject him? (8)

* Zephaniah 3:8 "Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them-- all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger."

* "assemble the nations" -Zephaniah's prophecy shifts from Jerusalem to the day of the Lord's wrath against the nations.

* "wait for me" -The day of the Lord's wrath against the nations will not happen right away.

* "The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger." -The world's destruction by fire is a common statement in the Bible. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; and 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Hebrews 10:26-27, 12:28-29; and 2 Peter 3:7-10; Revelation 9:17-18, 16:8-9, 20:9) Hell (Hades) is described as eternal fire. (Matthew 3:7-12, 5:12, 7:19, 13:40, 18:8-9, 25:41)

* Judah and Jerusalem should have taken the warning seriously. What about you right now? Do you live knowing that all will stand before the judgement seat of Christ? Is there something you need to repent of, some secret sin?

* 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

* 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 "All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."

* Hebrews 10:26-27 "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."

* Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."

* 2 Peter 3:7-10 "By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."

* Revelation 9:17-18 "The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths."

* Revelation 16:8-9 "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."

* Revelation 20:9 "They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them."

>What will he do after that and why will he do it? (9)

* Zephaniah 3:9 "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder."

* "purify the lips of the peoples" -Lies, slanders, and deception are a terrible common trait and habit. The nations are full of unclean lips. The Lord God will purify the nations when Jesus comes again.

* The prophecy here will be accomplished after the day of the Lord's wrath against the nations (the seven years of tribulation). Then Jesus will purify the world and his people. He will then rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

* When Jesus comes again all the nations will acknowledge him as God. No other god will be worshipped and honored. All the nations will serve him. Jesus taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

* Verse nine starts a three-stanza oracle (9-13, 14-17, 18-20).

>Why are God's scattered people shamed? (10-11)

* Zephaniah 3:10-11 "From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill."

* "beyond Cush" -The upper Nile region. See above question 3 for more information.

* "my scattered people" -The descendants of Jacob were scatted in three general time periods. Israel, the northern kingdom had already been captured and brought to Assyria when Zephaniah wrote this. Judah would soon be captured and exiled into Babylon. Both regions were in the opposite direction of Jerusalem than Cush. However, some Jews like Ezekiel escaped to Egypt. When the Greeks under Alexander controlled Jerusalem many Jews began settling in other parts of the Greek controlled countries including Cush. Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and exported almost all the Jews in Judah. Some went to Cush. When Israel became a nation again in 1948 A.D. many Jews began returning to Jerusalem. Many were living in Egypt (Cush). Now all the Jews who were in Egypt have moved to Israel.

* "On that day" -Another way of saying "the day of the Lord's wrath".

* "you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me" -The Israelites (all twelve tribes) sinned against the Lord and so his wrath came to them three times; Assyria, Babylon, and Rome. When they return and repent their sin will be removed through the blood of Jesus. Their sin will not cause them shame, the shame brought about by the exile.

* Immigration of the ancient Jewish community of Ethiopia to Israel has increased. In 1984, some 7,000 Ethiopian Jews walked hundreds of miles to Sudan, where a secret effort known as Operation Moses brought them to Israel. Another 15,000 arrived in a dramatic airlift, Operation Solomon, in May 1991. Within thirty hours, forty-one flights from Addis Ababa carried almost all the remaining community to Israel.

>What is promised them?

* "will bring me offerings"

* "I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride."

* "Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill."

>7. How are those who call on the name of the Lord described in verse 12?

* Zephaniah 3:12 "But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD."

* "the meek and humble"

* "who trust in the name of the LORD"

* Jesus taught, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)

* Psalm 37:10-11 "A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace."

* Psalm 18:27 "You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty."

* Psalm 149:4 "For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."

>What is promised them?

* Zephaniah 3:13 "The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid."

* "will do no wrong" -Future tense.

* "nor will deceit be found in their mouths"

* "They will eat and lie down"/p>

* "no one will make them afraid<"

>How does Jesus give us encouragement like this? (John 14:26-27, 16:33)

* John 14:26-27 "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

* John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

H3b>III. The King is With You (3:14-20)

>8. What are we encouraged to do in verse 14?

* Zephaniah 3:14 "Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!"

* "Jerusalem" -Zephaniah 1:2-2:3 concerns judgment against Judah. Zephaniah 2:4-15 concerns judgement against the nations. Zephaniah 3:1-7 concerns judgement against Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah. 3:8 can be considered a conclusion to the judgements as 1:2-3 was its opening statement; both being similar. The rest of the book deals with salvations, restoration, and the remnant of Judah and Jerusalem.

* "Sing... shout aloud... be glad and rejoice" -After we are delivered all our being will worship.

* "Daughter of Zion" -Zion is a name of the mountain Jerusalem was built on. The Daughter of Zion refers to its citizens.

* Ephesians 5:19-20 "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

>Why? (15)

* Zephaniah 3:15 "The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm."

* "The Lord" -Jesus did this, not themselves. He is with them.

* "taken away your punishment"

* "turned back your enemy"

* "never again will you fear any harm"

>Who and/or what are our greatest enemies? (1 Cor. 15:24-27)

* 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ."

* 1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

* Ephesians 6:10-18 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

>9. What is revealed about the Lord God in verses 16-17?

* Zephaniah 3:16-17 "On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

* "The LORD your God is with you,"

* "he is mighty to save"

* "He will take great delight in you"

* "he will quiet you with his love"

* "he will rejoice over you with singing"

>What does verse 18 mean?

* Zephaniah 3:18 "The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you."

* "The sorrows for the appointed feasts"

* "I will remove from you"

* "they are a burden and a reproach to you"


>What are the appointed feasts? (Lev. 23)

* The appointed feasts are in chronological order: the Sabbath, the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles.

crown light

>10. What does the Lord promise his oppressed people in verses 19-20?

* Zephaniah 3:19-20 "At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes," says the LORD."

* "I will deal with all who oppressed you"

* "I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered"

* "I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame"

* "I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home"

* "I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes"

* Zechariah 8:7-8 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."

* Joel 3:1-2 "In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land."

* Matthew 24:30-31 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

>When will this be fulfilled?

* "At that time" -Another phrase for "the day of the Lord".

* This promise is in the process of being fulfilled, ever since Israel has been made a nation again.

* On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed. The Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel stated: "The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and the ingathering of the exiles; it will foster the development of the country for all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex..."

This was followed in 1950 by the Law of Return, which granted every Jew the automatic right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen of the state. With the gates wide open after statehood was declared, a wave of mass immigration brought 687,000 Jews to Israel's shores. By 1951, the number of immigrants more than doubled the Jewish population of the country in 1948. The immigrants included survivors of the Holocaust from displaced persons' camps in Germany, Austria and Italy; a majority of the Jewish communities of Bulgaria and Poland, one third of the Jews of Romania, and nearly all of the Jewish communities of Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

Additional mass immigration took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when immigrants arrived from the newly independent countries of North Africa, Morocco and Tunisia. A large number of immigrants also arrived during these years from Poland, Hungary and Egypt.

* From 1948 to 1967, the relations between Jews in the Soviet Union and the State of Israel were limited. Following the Six­Day War, Jewish consciousness among Soviet Jews was awakened, and increasing numbers sought immigration to Israel. As an atmosphere of detente began to pervade international relations in the early 1970s, the Soviet Union permitted significant number of Jews to immigrate to Israel. At the end of the decade, a quarter of a million Jews had left the Soviet Union; 140,000 immigrated to Israel.

Soviet Jews were permitted to leave the Soviet Union in unprecedented numbers in the late 1980s, with President Gorbachev's bid to liberalize the country. The collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991 facilitated this process. After 190,000 reached Israel in 1990 and 150,000 in 1991, the stabilization of conditions in the former Soviet Union and adjustment difficulties in Israel caused immigration to level off at approximately 70,000 per year. From 1989 to the end of 2003, more than 950,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union had made their home in Israel.

Since 2003 many more Jews have left lands of the former Soviet Union and migrated to Israel, many supported by funds from Christian groups and organizations like John Hagee ministries.

* The above facts on Jews returning to Israel came from: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Immigration/immigration.html