The Book of Zephaniah Bible Study Chapter 2 Part 1

We go on to Zephaniah 2:1-7

In Exodus, G-d made a distinction between the Egyptians and His people who lived in Goshen at that time. The wrath of G-d did not fall upon the land of Goshen, but it only fell upon Egypt (in Hebrew poetry Egypt is often paralleled with the world) and the Egyptians. We should never underestimate the importance of being in a covenantal relationship with G-d. The Day of the L-rd’s wrath is not for those that He is in covenant with – neither for His New Covenant people (believers – 1 Thess 5:9) nor for His Old Covenant people – Israel. G-d will, however, use His Day of wrath to teach Israel truth and to bring the remnant to repentance and faith. G-d’s judgment fell on Egypt. Likewise, G-d’s judgment is going to fall upon this world. Some Egyptians also came to faith during this time (Ex 9:20, Ex 12:38). 

v1: Gather… together: G-d is going to gather the nations together in the same way that sticks are gathered together for the fire. 

  • Nation: This is not speaking about one nation in particular. It is speaking about the nation of those who have rejected G-d. 

v2: (Act) Before: G-d is giving these nations an opportunity to act, to repent, before it is too late. 

  • Passes like chaff: This day is going to come quickly, and it is going to pass quickly. There will be no time for action when this day is upon them. Chaff reminds us that G-d is going to make a separation – a distinction between that which is chaff and that which is grain. The chaff represents those who do not have a covenantal relationship with G-d. The grain represents those who do. 
  • The L-rd’s fierce anger…the day of the L-rd’s anger: G-d is a G-d of love, but He is also a G-d of wrath. If we only embrace Him as the G-d of love, then we are not embracing the Biblical G-d. G-d has repeated Himself in this verse. He has clearly emphasised that there is a need to respond to Him before His anger falls. This invitation is open to all (John 1:12) and it is incumbent upon us to act accordingly if we do not want to receive His anger/wrath/judgment.

v3: Seek the L-rd: This is a commandment.

  • Meek: Humble. Biblically there is a connection between humility and trusting G-d. It is only when we are humble that we are in a spiritual position whereby we can trust in G-d.
  • Upheld His justice: When we uphold G-d’s justice it shows that we are committed to righteousness. Upholding or executing (doing) righteousness manifests G-d’s glory. 
  • It may be: Perhaps. This word is not being used to insert doubt into this text. It is through the framework of righteousness, humility and upholding G-d’s justice that we can have an expectation of being hidden in that day. 

v4: Gaza …Ashkelon…Ashdod…Ekron: These used to be Philistine cities. The Philistines were enemies of King David. Their descendants are going to be enemies of the son of David -Messiah. David acted mightily against the Philistines. In the day of the L-rd, their seed is going to be utterly crushed. Except for Gaza, these are all Jewish cities today. A great part of this verse has already been fulfilled. In our generation we can see evidence that the Word of G-d has proved faithful. G-d has begun to uproot His enemy from the land of Israel. 

  • Gaza shall be forsaken: It is going to be a recipient of G-d’s judgment.

v5: Woe: How awful it will be for those who refuse to change their ways. 

  • The nation of the Cherethites: This is referring to the people of the Greek island of Crete. There is a connection between the Philistines (who were a sea-faring people) and this island of Crete. The Philistines originated from the island of Crete and migrated to the land of Israel during the twelfth century BC.  
  • Canaan: Within the context this is speaking of the land of Canaan and is not referring to merchants. The Canaanites would not do what they were called to do. They were not ignorant of what G-d had done (Josh 2:9-11), they had heard, but their hearing did not lead them to submit. Fear did not bring about their surrender, it caused them to ‘freeze’ in position – unwilling to change, unwilling to respond to G-d.  

v6: Shelters: Literally: Caves. Relatively simple or modest habitations which the shepherds could shelter in. 

  • Shepherds: Shepherds, by and large, want to take proper care of their sheep. They lead them into safe places. This land used to be so dangerous that a shepherd would never take his flock there. G-d is bringing about a change in this area. 

v7: The coast: This is the third time that the (sea)coast has been mentioned in this passage. 

  • Remnant: This is a word that reminds us about the faithfulness of G-d. It is a word that   shows us that He is working – functioning in a way to bring about change. A partial restoration has already occurred in Israel, but a greater restoration is still to take place. 
  • Return their captives: This Scripture has been fulfilled to a large extent. Jewish people (those from the house of Judah) are living in these places today (Ashkelon, Ashdod, etc). 

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