The Book of Zephaniah Bible Study Chapter 1 Part 2

We go on to Zephaniah 1:7-11

v7: Be silent: Do not speak. Do not act. Be still.

  • L-rd: G-d is our Master. His L-rdship is what we need to submit to. This is a call to submissiveness. 
  • The day of the L-rd: The Day of G-d’s Wrath. This is referring to the Day when G-d will set things in order. The day of His judgment gives birth to the establishment of His Kingdom.
  • He has invited His guests: This is a reference to the enemies of G-d – those who have no covenantal relationship with Him. These enemies are the ones whom He has invited to participate in the Day of His wrath. 

v8: The L-rd’s sacrifice: This is a sacrifice of judgment. This is not an offering that is going to take place at the temple. It is going to be a sacrifice where the enemies of G-d are judged and destroyed.

  • Punish (literally the word for ‘visit’): This is a very unique word in Hebrew. In modern Hebrew this word is used for depositing money in a bank. It is a word that speaks of a change (when our money ‘visits’ the bank our bank balance undergoes a change). When G-d ‘visits’ He gets completely involved, He goes to work, diligently and thoroughly, in order to bring about change. Sometimes this change is for good, sometimes this change is for punishment or destruction (This same word is found in Gen 21:1, Ex 4:31 etc). 
  • Clothed with foreign apparel: These high officials and king’s sons have assimilated. They have become like pagans – even down to the way that they dress. They have not wanted to be set apart as G-d’s special treasure, the peculiar people that G-d had called them to be. They did not want to be a light to the world (Matt 5:13-16) but wanted to be just like the world. They, therefore, behaved in a way that was indistinguishable from those who were in the world. 

v9: In the same day: Judgment Day

  • Leap over the threshold: This was a pagan practice. It was a ritual that was not Biblically based. These people brought pagan practices into the temple. We see this in many churches today – worship that is not Biblically grounded, sanctuaries looking more like nightclubs than places of worship. Even the word Sanctuary (which is a word related to holiness) is replaced with more socially acceptable words like ‘auditorium’. G-d never compromises. Neither should we (Matt 7:13-14). We are called to be a peculiar people, strangers and aliens passing through (1 Peter 2:9). We are not called to assimilate and become indistinguishable from the world. 
  • Violence and deceit:  These words describe the character of the antichrist. He loves violence for the sake of violence. He is addicted to seeing the suffering and the pain of others. The tool that he is going to use to get people to suffer and to experience adversity in their lives is deceit (Matt 24:11, 2 Thess 2:9-12, 2 Peter 2:3). A time of deceit is coming upon this earth. Only those who rely on truth will be able to discern what is deceit and what is not. 

v10: Says (declares) the L-rd: A term of promise. This is going to happen.

  • The sound of a mournful cry (literally: the voice of screaming): This is a term of pain. When people are in great pain they scream. This is not according to G-d’s original purpose. G-d did not create humanity to destroy it. It was not His desire to be a wrathful G-d. G-d created us to be in fellowship with Him. We chose sin. We chose to be separated from Him. He has created a way to restore us back to Himself (Joel 2:32, Roms 10:9-13). This world, steeped in sin, is displeasing to G-d. He is returning to judge it. His activity of judgment is going to cause people (those who have rejected Him and His plan of salvation) to scream. 
  • Fish: On Rosh Hashanah (the first day of the Jewish New Year) a fish or a fish head graces the festival table in many Jewish households. Within the Jewish culture (and there is Biblical basis for this) a fish is related to blessing. 
  • (Fish) Gate: A gate is related to judgment (the elders sat at the gates and pronounced judgments – whether they were judgments for good or judgments for punishment). G-d’s desire is to bless at this gate, but because of impurity, corruption and faithlessness this is going to become a place of judgment – a place where people are going to scream in suffering. 
  • Wailing: Lamentation. Howling in pain.
  • Wailing from the Second Quarter: This pain and lamentation is not only going to be found at the gates. It is going to be widespread. It is going to dwell in the homes of people. Comfort is not going to be found for them within their homes. Pain and agony will dwell with them. 
  • Crashing: Great destruction

v11: Wail: Howl. A lamentation due to great pain. 

  • Maktesh: A valley. This word in modern Hebrew speaks about a crater. According to the commentators, this is where those who wanted to trade set up their marketplaces. Nehemiah tells us (Nehemiah 13:15) about how the people were so in bondage to money that even when Shabbat would come, they would still bring merchandise into and out of the city.
  • Merchant: Depending on the context, this is also the word used for ‘Canaanite’. Instead of engaging in the activity of G-d, the people have turned away from that which is spiritual, that which is holy and that which is related to worship, and they have become entangled with commerce, business.
  • Those who handle money: Those who have made money their passion (Matt 6:24). 

Note: The context here is that this is all happening in the day of the L-rd, in the day of His wrath. Believers, who are not going to experience the wrath of G-d (1 Thess 5:9) will not be here for this day (the rapture takes place before the wrath of G-d falls). Israel, however, will be on the earth throughout this time of Great Tribulation (Jacob’s trouble, Jer 30:7), which is instigated by the antichrist. G-d will shelter Israel from His wrath (Ex 8:21-23, Ex 9:4, etc. Throughout these plagues in Egypt G-d protected His people from them), but He will not shelter them from the persecution of the antichrist (Exodus 5). As the people of Israel go through this time of Great Tribulation, a separation of those who are committed to the things of this world (wealth, comfort, etc) and of those who are Kingdom minded is going to occur. Those who remain committed to the things of this world will be destroyed (Zech 13:8). Those who are committed to G-d and to His Kingdom will come to repentance and be saved (Zech 13:9). 

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