The Book of Zephaniah Bible Study Chapter 3 Part 3

Let us finish off the book of Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:14-20). 

When we agree with G-d and base our expectations upon His promises, our problems, difficulties and frustrations lessen. This does not mean that everything is going to be easy, but it means that when we encounter difficult things, we do not have to deal with them alone. When we are walking in trust and faith, the Holy Spirit is upon us. We are, therefore, living under His anointing, having G-d’s provision available to us so that we can demonstrate what it means to be an overcomer. 

v14: Sing (literally: shout): This is a word that has great emotion attached to it. It is a word that implies unique and supernatural joy – a gladness, a happiness, a contentment, a rejoicing that is beyond the natural. 

  • Daughter: A term of endearment. This speaks about a future condition. 
  • Zion: Zion comes from a word which means ‘to mark’ – to mark or to set apart for excellence. If we want the excellent things of G-d they are not found in this world, but they are found in the Kingdom (Zion is the word for Jerusalem – but Jerusalem in her redeemed state). 
  • Zion…Israel: These terms are parallel. They are both Kingdom terms. Israel speaks here of the combination of the Jewish and Gentile remnant – the people of the Kingdom (see comment made in Zeph 3:13 regarding Israel). 
  • Rejoice with all your heart: With all our heart means to do something with intensity – to do it in a complete manner. Biblically, heart is related to the way that we think. The joy and gladness spoken of here is going to fulfil every thought of our heart. It is going to go beyond what we can simply imagine.
  • Jerusalem: The word for peace (shalom) is one of the words that make up the name ‘Jerusalem’. Peace is what we experience (inherit) as an outcome of the will of G-d being fulfilled. The final state of G-d’s Kingdom is called the ‘New Jerusalem’. It is in this place that we will fully inherit all that G-d has willed for us – His New Covenant people. 

v15: Judgments: Written in the plural to remind us that the Jewish people received (or will still receive) a double portion of punishment for their sins (Isaiah 40:1-2). One way that this can be understood, from a last day perspective, is that two-thirds of the Jewish people are lost, and one-third are brought to faith (Zech 13:8-9). 

  • Cast out your enemy: This is one of the purposes for Yeshua’s second coming (not referring to the rapture). Yeshua is going to remove all His enemies (even binding satan for a period of time at this time – Rev 20:1-3)
  • The King of Israel: The title given to the Messiah – the Anointed One. He is the One who is anointed to be King. There is no kingdom without a king. 
  • The L-RD is in your midst: One of G-d’s chief desires is to dwell with man. From an earthly perspective we think we want to be with G-d. In fact, He desires, even more, to be with us. 
  • See disaster no more (literally: No longer fear evil): We can define evil as anything that is in opposition to the will of G-d. In G-d’s Kingdom we are going to receive the fullness of His will, and all of this comes about because of the fact that G-d is with us. It is when we encounter perfect love that we will no longer fear (1 John 4:18). 

v16: In that day: G-d’s goodness in its entirety (the establishment of His Kingdom) comes about after Judgment Day. The primary purpose of G-d’s judgment is to set things in order. Only once things are in order can G-d pronounce it ‘good’ (Genesis 1).

  • Do not fear: Repetition shows emphasis. G-d is emphasising that when He is in their midst (when He is in our midst) there is no need to fear. Fear handicaps people. When we are afraid, we do not function as G-d intended us to function. Fear leads to a lack of discernment and poor decision-making abilities. Yeshua warned us that in the last days intense persecution is going to fall on His covenant people (Matt 24:9-10). We need to be prepared for this so that we (the Kingdom people) do not give in to fear over this time.  
  • Zion: Kingdom people. 
  • Let not your hands be weak: Do not let go. Do not give in. Do not capitulate. Do not compromise. We need to remain committed to doing what G-d has called us to do in the last days -passionately committed to living righteously for Him, no matter the consequences. 

v17: The Mighty One, will save: The Rabbi’s acknowledge that this phrase is referring to Messiah, although they do not acknowledge that He is G-d – despite this phrase being sandwiched between the truths on either side of it that clearly speak about G-d. It is only through Yeshua, our Messiah, that we can be saved (Acts 4:10-12, Roms 10:9-10). 

  • He will rejoice over you: G-d, Himself, rejoices over us as an outcome of salvation, as an outcome of receiving His love. From a natural perspective we think of ourselves delighting in G-d. Here we see a heavenly perspective – He delights in us. 
  • He will quiet you: He will make us silent. The word literally means to make deaf, unable to speak – as there is no reason to speak. 
  • His love: His sacrificial love (John 3:16) makes us silent/still (“speechless”). It is only through the salvation of Messiah that we are going to be recipients of the love of G-d.

v18: Note: This verse is unique (as is the word used for ‘those who sorrow’ a rare Biblical word). It is a verse that speaks about sadness yet is set within the midst of verses that speak of joy and gladness. 

  • Those who sorrow: Those who are grieved. 
  • Appointed assembly: The festivals (Sabbath, Passover, First fruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles). Although G-d entrusted these festivals to Israel, they remain His festivals (Lev 23:1-2) – His appointed times. There is no temple today, so we cannot keep these feasts in the way that they were required to be kept. However, it is important that we study them and, led by the Spirit, we can apply the truth of these festivals to our lives. They teach us about different aspects of G-d’s character. G-d owns these festivals. He works with them to teach us truth and to lead us closer to Himself and to where He wants us to be. These festivals are important to G-d. What is important for Him should be important to us. These festivals were (are) special times of worship. The people who are grieved at these festivals are grieved because they realise that they fall short of the truths found in these festivals. They realise that without redemption or restoration they cannot get to where G-d wants them to be. 
  • (literally: I will gather up from among you your burden of disgrace): This is a promise. G-d is going to remove the heavy load of shame from His people. 

v19: At that time: G-d has marked out a very specific time as to when He is going to do this. 

  • I will deal: G-d is going to take action. Not only is G-d going to deal with His people (to set them in order) but He is also going to deal with those who were the enemies of His people (those who hinder His plans and purposes). 
  • All: Everyone 
  • I will save the lame (the one who limps): This same word (‘limps’) appears in 1 Kings 18:21. Elijah was frustrated with the people because they kept limping (faltering) between two perspectives – whether to serve G-d or Baal. These people were weak and not committed to wholeheartedly serving G-d. G-d is going to rescue these people who fluctuate in their thinking in this way. 
  • Gather those who were driven out: This is G-d’s promise. He is going to gather those who were driven out of the land. The ingathering of Jewish people to the land of Israel in our days is a very important prophetic event. We should in no way minimise this. G-d is performing an end days miracle before our very eyes. 
  • Appoint them: Set themPosition them. Place them (ie the Jewish people – that remnant who are going to come to faith in the last days). 
  • A fame (literally: name): A reputation. A character. G-d’s character will become their character (a people who are holy, righteous and set apart – a new creation). 
  • Shame: Shame is swapped out for praise and a name. G-d causes them to change, reflecting the very character of Messiah. 

v20: At that time: Good things happen after this time. 

  • I will bring you back…gather you: The implication is that He will bring them back, gather them up, to the land that He promised them (Matt 24:31). 
  • Fame (name) and praise: The order is reversed from Zeph 3:19.
  • For I will give you (a name) and praise among all the peoples of the earth: G-d has never given up on His Old Covenant people. He has always been faithful to a Jewish remnant. Once the time of the Gentiles reaches its fullness, the rest of the world is going to observe His faithfulness to the Jewish people – fulfilling the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 
  • When I return your captives: There is going to be a return to the land of Israel for all those who were exiled from it (all those who lived outside of it borders). 
  • (Said) the L-RD: This is written in the past tense. From G-d’s perspective this is as good as done. This is His promise to the remnant of the Jewish people. G-d’s primary way of reaching and saving people is through the gospel. In the last days He is going to bring a remnant of Jewish people to faith through that same gospel message. The Old Covenant people are going to recognise Messiah (Jesus Christ) and they are going to repent and submit to His L-rdship, therefore becoming a part of the New Covenant people. 

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