Zephaniah
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Chapter 1

Zephaniah was the son of Cushi, and great-grandson of Hezekiah, and the ninth in the order of the minor prophets. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (641-610 B.C.), and was contemporary with Jeremiah.

(Zep 1:1) The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

We see here plainly that God is a God who does not want to destroy and bring judgment. He sends more than one prophet with the same message. He didn't just sent only Jeremiah, but He sent more than one to warn and try to get Judah and Israel to repent and turn back to God. If they refused to repent then of course judgment has to come because God cannot allow sin to continue forever and to make an example for others to observe.

The world that existed in the days of Noah must have gotten to the point of no return for God to have allowed them to be destroyed. I'm sure God sent them prophets to warn and try to bring them to repentance. We see from our own times that very few heed the call to repentance. People do not want to change. They do not want to repent and do not want what is good. For some strange reason, human nature wants to sin and wants to justify their sin. They may try to be a good person and do a few good deeds to justify themselves but basically they desire to sin.

(Zep 1:2) I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.
(Zep 1:3) I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.
(Zep 1:4)
I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

After God delivered Israel from Egypt, He fed them in the wilderness and gave them water to drink. Their shoes did not wear out the whole time. Because of unbelief they had to stay in the wilderness for forty years until those in rebellion had died off and a younger generation arose. God led them to the promised land that was rich in provisions and all they would need. After a few years of good, they began to sin against God and worship the idols of other nations that surrounded them. They desired to sin and justify their sin by changing gods. They wanted a god that would allow them to sin and still be religious. How many religions today offer that same set of principles? Some perform rituals and religious ceremonies that people attend thinking they can worship God in that way and still live how they want any other time. Some trust in infant baptism or some other ritual to save them instead of repenting of sin and being changed by the power of God (born again). Some go to churches where they are told they can be rich if they give to certain ministries and that God wants only good for them, never have a sick day, or be hard up for money.  These are not reality and they soon get discouraged when trouble comes.  This is why it is so important for us to read and study the word of God and not just take a few scriptures while ignoring the rest of them. Baal was one of the gods of the Canaanites which occupied the land of Canaan before Israel was given the land.  Chemarims were the Gentile priests. Gentile priests assisted the people in the worship of other gods who were not really gods. 

(Zep 1:5) And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

Other nations may claim ignorance to idolatry but Israel and Judah had no such claim. They had the miracles, the signs, the presence of Lord, victory in battle and the works. Yet, they worshipped the host of heaven. The worship of the sun, moon, constellations or any other heavenly body is forbidden in the scriptures. Malcham is a name for an idol. Other idols they worshipped are Molech and Baal. This is grievous in the sight of God. Only those in rebellion against either God or His commandments would worship another god. False religion will bring with it good religious feelings and experiences but a life of true godly holiness and repentances from sin will be lacking.  They may openly claim a legalistic type of supposed holiness but in reality there is a license to sin among those at the top especially while those under their authority are in bondage. 

(Zep 1:6) And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.

When those who once knew God do not seek after Him any longer, it usually mean that they wish to return to sin and seeking God would only remind them of their sin. The two do not mix.

(Zep 1:7) Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.
(Zep 1:8)
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

Perhaps strange clothing not common among Israel is what this refers to. My guess is it means clothing that the heathen nations wore. I wonder what God thinks of our clothing today. Talk about strange. The day of the Lord means a day of judgment.  This will have an immediately fulfillment upon the people of God who once knew Him but have turned to idols and a future fulfillment during the great tribulation or the time of Jacob's trouble.  The above mention of God preparing a sacrifice makes us think of the sacrifice of Jesus when He died upon the cross but it is most likely to be the great sacrifice at the battle of Armageddon.

Rev 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
Rev 19:18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
 

(Zep 1:9) In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

Sounds like they were stealing and plundering by using violence to take away by force. God actually sees and brings vengeance upon those that plunder the poor or innocent. Leaping upon the threshold is also a superstitious activity supposed to bring good luck. It has to do with the idol of Dagon.  Perhaps that is where we get the "Carrying over the threshold thing done by newlyweds".  Of course we know it is just innocent fun in our day but at one time it may not have been innocent.  There was a time when brides were kidnapped and they had to be carried against their will.  I'm not saying that these passages in Zephaniah were describing all these traditions but it is just a thought.  Whatever they did, we see that they caused much violence and deceit.  The opposite of false religion is peace, joy and compassion. 

(Zep 1:10) And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
(Zep 1:11)
Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

The law of reaping and sowing. If we steal, we will suffer theft ourselves. If we live by the sword, we shall die by the sword.

(Zep 1:12) And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

Lees are the dregs or sediment from strong drink. We see this attitude today. Many do as they please thinking in their heart that the Lord doesn't bring good as a reward or evil as a judgment.  They are mistaken in this matter.  Some seem to think of God as someone out in the distance somewhere if they believe in God at all and assume He has no personal interest in the affairs of men.   Well, He had such an interest as to send His Son to suffer and die for every ugly sin that mankind has ever committed in the past, in the present and in the future.  Of course one has to turn from sin and believe in this one God sent to us in order for His death and payment of our sins to count on our behalf.  It is not an automatic redemption, we have to receive it ourselves and believe. 

(Zep 1:13) Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

Their work in planting and building will be in vain for others will reap what they sowed.

(Zep 1:14) The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
(Zep 1:15)
That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
(Zep 1:16)
A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
(Zep 1:17)
And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
(Zep 1:18)
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

Again I will mention that the day of the Lord is a day of judgment usually referring to the latter day great tribulation but in this case there is an immediate fulfillment that comes when God allowed the enemies of Judah to take them into captivity.  There is also a latter day fulfillment just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Some believe the day of the Lord means the Second Coming but usually that term refers to the judgment of God for the sins of mankind.  The tribulation comes first and then the literally Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  To God it would seem as if the event were at the same time. 

The same message is still needed in today's world. The message to repent and turn back to God. The only difference is that now we must go to God through His son, Jesus Christ but it still requires repentance or turning from sin.

This message is so hard to get people to see. In the days of Noah, only 8 people listened to God and were delivered from the flood that covered the entire world. In the days of the prophets only a remnant survived God's judgment. Judgment will come again to all nations. Are we ready? Are we laughing at the prophets and preachers? Are we simply ignoring their message and choosing to listen to the ones with fair words and speeches. 

Someone made a comment the other day that they are sick of Christians trying to force their message on everybody.

Do Christians use force? We have a commandment from the Lord to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We should do that but never with force. A forced conversion could never be a true conversation. Beware accusing Christians of using force and rejecting their message. God may just allow a religious group to take over that really uses force. Is that what we want? Do we want to cast aside the message of the gospel and accept a message that uses force and kills those that refuse their forced conversions?

Many work to cast out prayer from schools, remove the ten commandments from the court house and reject any part of the Christian message of salvation. Beware of this because if God would lift His hand of protection and allow a wicked nation to rule that executes those that disagree with their religion or politics then you will see that the old Christians you despised were not so bad after all.

Take the example of Israel in the Old Testament. They rejected God and His goodness and in return they got slavery, oppression, starvation and ruin. Is that what we want? If we in the United States and other parts of the free world continue to reject that which is good, holy and just, we will get that which is bad. We seek to get by with sin and reject holiness, then that sin will destroy us. God just may allow us to have what we want and we will see that what we wanted is deadly. Satan is out to kill and destroy. He will succeed only if we let him by our rejection of God and His word.

Zephaniah Chapter 2

 
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