Scriptures

Zephaniah 2

Introduction

‘Gather together, gather yourselves together, you shameful nation, before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.’ Zephaniah 2:1-3

Judah Summoned To Repent

Here we find God warning His people again and they are called upon to seek three things, the Lord, righteousness and humility.

The word ‘seek’ in Hebrew is the word, ‘baqash’ and it means to search out, to strive after but it also carries with it the idea of continuous seeking. In other words, they were to continually seek the Lord, they were to continually seek righteousness and continually seek humility.

Judah had gone so far away from God and His ways, they had become almost useless to God as a nation. It was God who made them into a nation, Exodus 19:5-6, but it seems they have forgotten this and forgotten God.

Zephaniah pleads with the righteous few to get their act together, so that they can be identified with God. He asks them look around at what is about to happen to them, indicating that some in Judah have a chance to escape the coming judgment.

Zephaniah says there is no humility in Judah, and so, in order to avoid the coming judgment, they needed to be obedient to the Lord, they needed to repent. Repentance simply means to ‘reconsider’ your ways, and after reconsidering, change the direction of your life and start living God’s way.

Sadly, Judah failed to repent, when Jerusalem finally fell and the city was destroyed by the Babylonians, some were taken into captivity, and so, in 586 B.C. Judah stopped being a nation but continued to be a kingdom until AD 7.0 when the Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

‘Gaza will be abandoned, and Ashkelon left in ruins. At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted. Woe to you who live by the sea, you Kerethite people; the word of the LORD is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines. He says, ‘I will destroy you, and none will be left.’ The land by the sea will become pastures having wells for shepherds and pens for flocks. That land will belong to the remnant of the people 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.’ Zephaniah 2:4-7

Philistia

The word ‘Philistia’ means the land of strangers. The Philistines first appear in the southern coastal area of Canaan, hence why sometimes they were called the ‘sea people’. The sea coast in the west of the territories of the tribes of Dan and Simeon, Psalm 60:8 / Psalm 87:4 / Psalm 108:9.

They ruled the five city states of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarkon River in the north, but with no fixed border to the east.

The Philistines knew no shame, they have no conscience and God calls them a shameless nation. It was the Assyrians who first conquered them but later, the Babylonians would come and bring them to an end.

Because of their location, as a nation, they were always under threat, and so, in the final days of national Israel, they would suffer. Its cities will be made desolate, and the inhabitants will be destroyed, the land will only be useful for sheep and shepherds but eventually, the land will be for the remnant of Judah, when God brings them back from Babylonian captivity around 536 B.C.

‘I have heard the insults of Moab and the taunts of the Ammonites, who insulted my people and made threats against their land. 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.’ This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the LORD Almighty. The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the earth. Distant nations will bow down to him, all of them in their own lands.’ Zephaniah 2:8-11

Moab and Ammon

Moab and Ammon will become like Sodom and Gomorrah because of their pride, and for the way they treated God’s people, Amos 1:13-15 / Amos 2:1-3.

They continually mocked the Israelites, especially when the nations around were attacking them and they took full advantage of this when they moved into the land of Reuben and Gad. Because of this they would be punished to such an extent that they would cease to be a nation.

If you destroy a nation’s gods, you destroy their identity as a nation, the good news is that one day, the One true God will be worshipped by people from all nations.

‘You Cushites, too, will be slain by my sword.’ Zephaniah 2:12

Cush

The Cushites were from Ethiopia, the land of Cush which was situated in the south of Egypt. We know that God’s sword was put in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar in order to punish Tyre, Ezekiel 29:17-20 / Ezekiel 30:24-25. The king of Assyria was called God’s razor by Isaiah, Isaiah 7:20.

The sword is God’s way of venting His wrath and if we learn anything from this, it’s knowing that God can use anyone He likes to bring about judgment against any nation He chooses who refuse to repent and follow His ways.

‘He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert. Flocks and herds will lie down there, creatures of every kind. The desert owl and the screech owl will roost on her columns. Their hooting will echo through the windows, rubble will fill the doorways, the beams of cedar will be exposed. This is the city of revelry that lived in safety. She said to herself, ‘I am the one! 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.’ Zephaniah 2:13-15

Assyria

During the time of Zephaniah, the Assyrian Empire was coming to an end. Because they had already taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722/21 B.C., they proved to be a real threat to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Although the capital city of Nineveh was well fortified, it eventually fell into the hands of the Babylonians in 612 B.C. The city was destroyed so much by the Babylonians, it would never be built again.

The ‘desert owl’ and the ‘screech owl’, some other translations use other animals, the KJV uses the word, ‘cormorant’ which is possibly a pelican and the word, ‘bittern’ which is a species of bird. Whatever animals they are, they are used as examples of wild creatures who would take over this once proud city, Nahum 3:19.

Nineveh claimed to be like God, saying ‘I am the one! And there is none besides me.’ Oh, how wrong she was Revelation 18:7 / Isaiah 47:8.

Application

Seeking is something which we do continuously, whether it be seeking the Lord, seeking righteousness or seeking humility. A person who is truly repentant will do whatever it takes to please the Lord, because they know their eternal destiny depends upon it, 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Seeking the Lord must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we will never know what God wants unless we earnestly seek Him through reading our Bibles and studying it, Deuteronomy 4:29 / Isaiah 55:6-7.

Seeking righteousness, righteousness basically means being right with God, but this can only come when He is first in our lives and when we trust Him to take care of our daily needs, Matthew 6:33-34.

Humility is something that God looks for in all people, especially His own people, 2 Chronicles 7:14 / 1 Peter 5:6 / James 4:10 / Philippians 2:3-4.

There’s no escaping the fact that God will judge the nations, every nation that rebels against God will be judged. In the New Testament, it’s very clear, every individual will also be judged.

‘For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.’ Acts 17:31

Go To Zephaniah 3

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Philippians 4:6

MENU