Zephaniah

Zephaniah 1 The Great Day Of The LORD.

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah (21:1; 29:25), and Zechariah (6:10, 14). “Zephaniah prophesied in the southern kingdom of Judah when Josiah (640-609 B.C. Cf. II Kgs. 22:1-2; 23:12; II Chr. 34:1-33; Josh. 23:7; Jer. 1:2; 19:13; 22:11) was king…and Nineveh had not yet been destroyed (2:13-15); therefore the prophet’s message was spoken prior to its destruction in 612 B.C. Zephaniah’s denunciation of continuing syncretistic worship (mixing the idolatry of the surrounding peoples with the worship of the LORD) and of Baal worship points to a date prior to Josiah’s reforms. If his ministry is dated in the earlier part of Josiah’s reign, then he was instrumental in bringing about Josiah’s reforms since the sins he attacked (1:4-5) are those abolished by Josiah’s reforms (Lev. 18:21; 2 Kin. 23:4-5; 2 Chr. 34:1-7)” (NGSB. p.1451).

Zephaniah appears to be the direct descendant of king Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.), whose name means “Yahweh [the LORD] hides” (Ibid. p. 1451 v. 1). The LORD was going to consume man and beast in Judah, “the stumbling blocks (or idols) along with the wicked, which included idolatrous and pagan priests. Among these idols were the Baals, and Malcom an Ammonite god (Cf. I Kgs. 11:5; Jer. 49:1). The people had given themselves to the worship of “the hosts of heaven,” all the while swearing oaths by the LORD (vv. 2-5 Cf. Jer. 8:13; Hos. 4:3; 10:5). “Those who have turned back from following the LORD, and have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him” (v. 6 Cf. Is. 1:4; Jer. 2:13; Hos. 7:7). All were called to “be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice (v. 7a Cf. Is. 13:6; Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13).

This day would be “the day of the LORD’s sacrifice,” one prepared for “invited guests” (vv. 7b-8a). This would be a sacrifice of apostates and their allies (Cf. Dt. 28:26; Is. 34:6; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 39:17-19), and would include “the princes and the king’s children” (v. 8b Cf. Jer. 39:6). Those given to violence and deceit will be punished (v. 9). It is clear that Jerusalem and its vicinity is in view, since there will be “the sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, a wailing from the Second Quarter” (v. 10 Cf. II Chr. 33:14; Neh. 3:3; 12:39). Maktesh was also “a market district of Jerusalem, lit. Mortar” (Ibid. p.1453 v. 11 Cf. Js. 5:1). This was as much an economic disaster as it was a religious or spiritual one. Those “who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil’” (v. 12 Cf. Ps. 94:7; Jer. 48:11; Amos 6:1), would be punished.

These all will accumulate goods but will not live to enjoy them (v. 13). In the fire of the LORD’s jealousy, “neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them” (v. 18 Cf. Ezek. 7:19). This was in fulfillment of the covenantal curses found in the law (Dt. 28:39). This “great day” was near to Zephaniah and his audience (v. 14 Cf. Jer. 30:7; Joel 2:1; 11). Since it concerns Jerusalem and its vicinity, it likely refers to the coming Babylonian captivity of Judah beginning in 598/7 B.C. It would be a day of wrath (vv. 15-16), a day when the guilty would “walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD,” a day when “their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse” (v. 17). Again, this is in fulfillment of the covenantal curses found in the law (Dt. 28:29). These words will also find another fulfillment in the destruction predicted by the Lord, which occurred in 70 A.D. (Mt. 24:2, 34).

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