Zephaniah chapter 3

Judgment on Jerusalem. Judgment on all the earth. The Day of Restoration. Rejoicing on purpose! 

 


 

JUDGMENT ON JERUSALEM

 

VERSE 1. Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, the oppressing city!

 

VERSE 2. She didn’t obey the voice. She didn’t receive correction. She didn’t trust in the LORD. She didn’t draw near to her God.

She didn’t obey the voice. Jerusalem didn’t obey the voice of the LORD God. She didn’t obey the voice of the Bible. She didn’t obey the voice of the prophets.

How does the LORD God speak to you? Do you obey his voice?

 

VERSE 3. Her princes within her are roaring lions. Her judges are evening wolves. They leave nothing until the next day.

Her princes within her are roaring lions. Their political leaders were terrible human beings.

Her judges are evening wolves. Their judges were corrupt.

 

VERSE 4. Her prophets are arrogant and treacherous people. Her priests have profaned the sanctuary. They have done violence to the law.

Her prophets are arrogant and treacherous. The prophets were “false” prophets. They were in the career field for money and prestige.

Her priests have profaned the sanctuary. The corruption of their priests caused irreparable harm to the holy place.

This is true in our day as well. The most famous example is the Catholic priests who sexually abuse children. And the bishops who conceal these crimes.

 

VERSE 5. The LORD, within her, is righteous. He will do no wrong. Every morning he brings his justice to light. He doesn’t fail, but the unjust know no shame.

 

VERSE 6. I have cut off nations. Their battlements are desolate. I have made their streets waste, so that no one passes by. Their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, so that there is no inhabitant.

 

VERSE 7. I said, “Just fear me. Receive correction,” so that her dwelling won’t be cut off, according to all that I have appointed concerning her. But they rose early and corrupted all their doings.

 

JUDGEMENT ON ALL THE EARTH

 

VERSE 8. “Therefore wait for me”, says the LORD, “until the day that I rise up to the prey, for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

 

THE DAY OF RESTORATION

 

VERSE 9. For then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that they may all call on the LORD’s name, to serve him shoulder to shoulder.

that they may all call on the LORD’s name. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

 

VERSE 10. From beyond the rivers of Cush, my worshipers, even the daughter of my dispersed people, will bring my offering.

 

VERSE 11. In that day you will not be disappointed for all your doings in which you have transgressed against me; for then I will take away out from among you your proudly exulting ones, and you will no more be arrogant in my holy mountain.

 

VERSE 12. But I will leave among you an afflicted and poor people, and they will take refuge in the LORD’s name.

I will leave among you an afflicted and poor people. The Bible describes a uniquely faithful group of believers called “the remnant.” Are they Jewish or Christians? Now or in the future? Who are they really? Read more »

 

VERSE 13. The remnant of Israel will not do iniquity nor speak lies, neither will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they will feed and lie down, and no one will make them afraid.”

NLT translation. 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.

The remnant of Israel. The Bible describes a uniquely faithful group of believers called “the remnant.” Are they Jewish or Christians? Now or in the future? Who are they really? Read more »

no one will make them afraid. Bullies will no longer frighten them. They will not be swayed by the fear-mongering of their political leaders. They will not be threatened by the threats of damnation by their religious leaders.

They will fear no one. They will be like the prophet Elisha:

Sirach 48:12b. During his lifetime, [Elisha] feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. (NAB)

 

REJOICING ON PURPOSE!

In this passage we discover a vital spiritual practice. It is to rejoice on purpose. We can rejoice because the LORD God has removed misfortune from our destiny. Rejoicing overcomes fear and discouragement. Rejoice—you make God’s day!

 

VERSE 14. Sing, daughter of Zion! Shout, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem.

NAB translation. Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

Rejoicing is commanded. Zion is to shout for joy. Israel is to sing joyfully. Jerusalem is to be glad and exult

Rejoicing is not presented as an option if they feel like it. It’s commanded. The LORD God wants his people to rejoice.

In our own lives, we need to rejoice. We need to make merry before the Lord. We need to sing and shout and exult.

We might not feel like doing those things. But by doing them, our feelings can change.

By the act of singing, we come to feel like singing. By the act of shouting for joy, we come to feel like shouting for joy. By the act of exulting, we’re much more likely to want to exult.

The action comes first. And then the emotions follow.

Biblically, that’s often the case. We take the step of faith, and then the feeling of faith increases.

If we wait for the feeling of faith to increase first, before we take the step of faith, we might never take the step and do the thing. No, the action precedes the emotion.

That reads like a command. It doesn’t say to rejoice when you feel like it. No, it commands that we rejoice, whether we feel like it or not.

One thing that holds us back from rejoicing on purpose is suffering. When we suffer, especially if we suffer because of what someone else has done to us, then it can be a real challenge to rejoice on purpose.

Here are two key insights about the combination of rejoicing on purpose PLUS suffering:

INSIGHT 1. Rejoicing on purpose and being aware of the suffering in your life can happen simultaneously.

INSIGHT 2. Rejoicing on purpose does not mean pretending that the suffering isn’t there. Rather, rejoicing on purpose means celebrating the love of the LORD God in spite of our suffering.

When we’re filled with joy—that’s when our spiritual life is strong. Conversely, when our joy is low, that’s when our spiritual life is weak.

Sing and shout and exult, and then you’ll feel more like singing and shouting and exulting.

Some Christians have a sad face and a somber demeanor. We wish they could know the joy of their Lord. Holiness is marked by joy. Joy equals strength! Read more »

 

VERSE 15. The LORD has taken away your judgments. He has thrown out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is among you. You will not be afraid of evil any more.

NAB translation. The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.

The LORD has removed the judgment. Your enemies are turning away. The LORD God is right there with you. There are no more tragedies in store. There will be no more misfortune. You have nothing to fear.

Those are great reasons to rejoice!

In our day, though, many believers have an unhealthy fear of God.

Maybe it’s because they focus on things about God that scare them. Maybe they dwell on divine wrath or divine anger.

Those elements are not absent from the biblical text. But they are not the overwhelming majority of the biblical text. Mercy is.

Some people justify their own overwhelming fear of God by citing biblical passages that we’re required to fear God.

But the Old Testament word translated as “fear,” which is yir-aw’ means reverential respect. We’re to have a reverential respect for God, not a terror of God.

How can we have a relationship with God, if we’re running around dreadful of him?

When our relationship with God is right, then we know he won’t terrorize us.

Philippians 4:7. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (NAB translation)

The truth is that the LORD God has removed any judgment against you. You have no further misfortune to fear.

 

VERSE 16. In that day, it will be said to Jerusalem, “Don’t be afraid, Zion. Don’t let your hands be weak.”

NAB translation. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!

If one of the goals of the LORD God is that we rejoice, then the enemy will try to stop us from rejoicing.

What tools might the enemy use? Zephaniah mentions fear and discouragement.

Fear and discouragement are antidotes to rejoicing. They do to our rejoicing what Kryptonite does to Superman.

Fear and discouragement are the Kryptonite to our superpower of rejoicing.

If you find yourself in a state of fear or discouragement, rejoicing is the way out.

Rejoicing is a lifeline that a lifeguard throws you when you’re drowning.

Grab onto that lifeline of rejoicing and let it reel you in to safety. Hang on to rejoicing and let it save your life.

What if you don’t feel like rejoicing? What if the feeling of fear is too strong? What if the feeling of discouragement is too strong?

Then it’s time to do it by faith. You rejoice, whether you feel like it or not.

Here are five tips for jump-starting your rejoicing:

TIP 1. One way to rejoice is simply to smile. When you smile, all sorts of good chemical reactions are set in motion in your body chemistry.

Some people would find their whole life begin to turn around, if they were simply to smile on purpose. Turn that frown around, and your life can turn around.

TIP 2. Another way to rejoice is to listen to praise and worship music. In our day, uplifting praise and worship music is available just about everywhere.

TIP 3. A third way to rejoice is to remember Jesus Christ. He preached good news to people (see Luke 3:18). What a great trigger for rejoicing!

TIP 4. A fourth way to rejoice is to read the Bible. As we read the sacred page, all sorts of internal entanglements begin to untangle. We begin to find joy, deep inner joy, the kind that only the inspired Word of God can give.

Reading the Bible is a pathway to rejoicing.

TIP 5. A fifth way to rejoice is to listen to great preaching. Many local churches offer great preaching on Jesus Christ, preaching that can uplift and inspire, challenge and encourage. Great preaching can fill you with Good News.

Fear not, Zion! Be not discouraged!

 

VERSE 17. The LORD, your God, is among you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.

NAB translation. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you.

The LORD God is your savior. And he’s right there with you.

He’s not distant. You’re not far from God. God is close to you. His Holy Spirit dwells within you. He knows you more than you know yourself. He knows it all.

If that’s the case, and it is, then what does God think of you? How does he feel about you, knowing every sin and mistake you’ve ever made?

He will rejoice over you with singing. When God thinks of you, he rejoices. He’s glad. He fills you ever more completely with his love.

You’ve seen that rejoicing in parents. When they’re in the birthing center at the hospital, holding their new baby in their arms, their faces and body language are that of rejoicing.

They’re not lamenting all the diapers they know they’ll have to change. They’re not lamenting all the money they’ll have to divert into the upbringing of that child. They’re not grieving the difficult moments that are sure to come.

No, they’re rejoicing. Because of the baby, they’re singing songs. The baby has made their day.

Similarly, because of you, God sings songs. You make God’s day!

 

VERSE 18. I will remove those who grieve about the appointed feasts from you. They are a burden and a reproach to you.

NLT translation. I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more.

you will be disgraced no more. Many people have been disgraced their whole lives. However, those days will soon be over.

 

VERSE 19. Behold, at that time I will deal with all those who afflict you; and I will save those who are lame and gather those who were driven away. I will give them praise and honor, whose shame has been in all the earth.

NAB translation. Yes, at that time I will deal with all who oppress you; I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts; I will give them praise and renown in all the earth, when I bring about their restoration.

Behold. This word is from הִנֵּה. It means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.

I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts. This was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. He fulfilled these promises during the days of his earthly ministry.

And some of his followers have been fulfilling them throughout the world, up to this very day.

I will give them praise and renown in all the earth. In the world of the LORD God, the unlikely candidates are the ones that he choses to be exalted.

Here God choses the lame and outcasts. In God’s kingdom, they will be the heroes. People will not look for role models among the wealthy or powerful. Rather, the heroes of the faith will be the lame and outcasts.

when I bring about their restoration. The trigger for this shift will be that the LORD God restores them. God restores them, and suddenly they are the heroes and role models for everyone on earth.

 

VERSE 20. At that time I will bring you in, and at that time I will gather you; for I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

NAB translation. At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the LORD.

I will bring you home. These promises apply to us, in a prophetic way, as well.

By faith, we can see the LORD God doing these things for us:

  • removing us from disaster
  • honoring the lame and outcasts
  • restoring us from our brokenness
  • bringing us to a land we will call home
  • gathering us together

 


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ZEPHANIAH

CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline, Memorize

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


 

Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.