The Book of Zephaniah Bible Study Chapter 1 Part 3

Next up is Zephaniah 1:12-18

We need to be people who are sensitive to G-d’s timing and timetable (1 Thess 5:4-6). We need to be aware of the times and season we find ourselves in (1 Chron 12:32, Matt 24:32-44). 

v12: And it shall come to pass at that time: This is usually an expression that is used Biblically for something good being ushered in. G-d is behind that Day of the L-rd. Although G-d is not the author of the Great Tribulation, He is going to allow very difficult things to take place in this world, using these things for His purposes and for His glory. In the last days, especially after the antichrist has revealed himself (in what is called the ‘abomination of desolation’ – Dan 12:11, Matt 24:15), G-d is going to bring spiritual change to Israel. He is going to use trials and tribulation to capture His people’s attention.

  • I will search Jerusalem: Jerusalem is oftentimes used as a symbol to depict those who are interested in worshipping G-d. G-d is, at that time, going to be specifically searching for those who desire to worship Him, those who are sensitive to His will and purposes (John 4:23). 
  • Search… with (candles): Before Passover begins, traditionally, a search for leaven (yeast) is conducted with candles throughout the house. If these candles reveal any leaven, that leaven is then disposed of (Deut 16:1-8, 1 Cor 5:7). Leaven is symbolic of anything that is contrary to what G-d says is right and proper for a specific time (Ex 12:15). Leaven was not forbidden for all of the year, but only for a very specific time within the year.  
  • Punish (literally: Visit): A word that shows commitment. G-d is committed to bringing about a change. 
  • Settled in complacency: Set in their ways. They refuse to change their beliefs or their lifestyles. They are unwilling to hear from G-d. They do not want to have anything to do with His will and nor will they respond to it. 
  • The L-rd will not do good, nor will He do evil: They see G-d as irrelevant. They believe that He is not Sovereign, not actively involved with His creation. They believe He created this world but that He has separated Himself from it. In the last day G-d is going to show them how relevant He is. 

v13: Note: The Day of the L-rd, although Israel has to live through it, is not for Israel. The Day of the L-rd is for the nations. Israel is going to learn about G-d through the way that He deals with the nations (They saw how He dealt with the Egyptians and that caused them to adjust their perspective of G-d). The remnant of Israel is going to respond to what G-d is doing. They are going to become submissive to the will of G-d – open to what He will bring about. 

  • Their goods: Referring to the wealth of the nations. 
  • Build houses but…not inhabit them…plant vineyards, but not drink their wine: This speaks of frustration. Those who rebel against G-d do their work – but it is of no benefit to them. Those who rebel against G-d will never know joy. They will not know contentment. One of the punishments of G-d is frustration. G-d desires to give us peace and contentment, but these individuals are not going to receive joy or contentment. 

v14: Mighty: Those who are strong.

v15: A day of wrath: Israel is shielded from the wrath of G-d (Rev 7:1-8). However, in the midst of G-d’s wrath, Israel is going to experience a great persecution from the antichrist. 

  • Devastation: The Hebrew word for ‘Holocaust’.
  • Devastation and desolation: Literally: Holocaust to holocaust. G-d is speaking about something that happened in the past that is going to repeat itself. The worst time for the Jewish people was not under Adolph Hitler. Their worst time, their holocaust of all holocausts, is yet to come. G-d is going to allow this time of intense suffering, under the antichrist regime, to happen again to the Jewish people. Through this time, the 1/3rd remnant of the people of Israel will experience a great spiritual change (Zech 13:8-9).
  • Darkness…gloominess…clouds…thick darkness: The sages of old understand this to mean that there will be an inability to see clearly, there will be an inability to discern things correctly. The time to respond to truth is not then (it will be very difficult to discern truth at this late stage), it is now – while there is still some light (John 9:4). 

v16: Trumpet: Shofar. The shofar (ram’s horn) reminds us of the provision of G-d – what G-d has provided for life and for victory (Gen 22:13-14). 

  • Alarm: A blasting. The sounding of the shofar. This sounding of the shofar will remind G-d’s people that it is G-d who has provided their victory. 
  • The fortified cities…the high towers: The enemy is strong, and he is prepared, but through G-d’s provision he is going to be defeated. 

Note: It is not by chance that the inability to see or perceive things (darkness..gloom..etc) is followed by an ability to hear (the blasting of the shofar). Faith does not come through seeing, it comes through hearing the Word of G-d (Roms 10:17). 

v17: They: Humanity.

  • Walk like blind men: These men do not recognise G-d’s provision – the victory that He has provided – and so they walk in darkness, they are blind to what G-d is doing. 
  • Poured out like dust: If we do not accept G-d’s provision (Messiah Yeshua) then we are going to be recipients of His trouble. Dust poured on the ground has no more value than manure.  

v18: Silver…gold: Idiom for wealth, their possessions, what they have laboured for. 

  • The whole land shall be devoured: This is talking about all the nations of the world. This is not a prophecy against Israel specifically but is against all those who have rejected the promises and the provision of G-d. The day of the L-rd is upon the nations. Its purpose is to teach Israel a message – G-d is a G-d of judgment. He moves in this world to punish evil. The only hope for any person is to be a recipient of G-d’s grace. Without His mercy and forgiveness there is no hope (assurance). Hope is always rooted in what G-d has said – what He has promised – it is not based on what we want, our desires. 
  • Devoured: Consumed. This means totally devoured – nothing will be left. G-d is going to make an absolute end to this world. 
  • His jealousy: G-d is a zealous G-d. He is absolutely passionate about and committed to His purposes. He is looking for a people of zeal – people who are committed to, and passionate about, the things that He is. 
  • Dwell in the land (earth): There are two groups of people in the Book of Revelation – those who dwell in the heavens and those who dwell in the earth (Rev 12:12). This is not referring to their physical location, but is referring to their citizenship – their perspective. Some people are heavenly (Kingdom) minded and some are earthly (worldly) minded. Those who ‘dwell upon the earth’ are loyal to this world. These are the ones who are going to experience eternal fear. 

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