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Bible Commentaries
Zephaniah 3

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books


God Will Restore His People

Zephaniah Three

Jerusalem had rebelled and now God's judgment was coming upon them. The princes, judges, prophets and priests that should have lead God's people in righteousness had failed. The people refused to heed the message of the godly prophets who pleaded for them to repent. God is a just God and therefore He cannot overlook sin, even the sin of His own people. God promised that "The Day" was coming when He would restore His people to their land. The things that Zephaniah said would happen were fulfilled with the Babylonian captivity and the restoration of the remnant of Judah.

The main captivity was in Babylon but many of the Jews were scattered among other Gentile nations also. During the captivity the people would learn to speak in a pure language; that is they would learn to worship and serve God correctly. They would forever know that idolatry is sinful. God blessed the Jews and brought the remnant back to Jerusalem. There would be great rejoicing when the Jews returned to their home land. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem." ( Zep_3:14 ) God loved and preserved His people, even in captivity.

Verses 1-7

Jerusalem rebelled against God -- Zep_3:1-7 : The people of Jerusalem and the entire nation had rebelled against God. Jerusalem had become a disgusting, corrupt, and lawless city. Those that fail to obey the voice of God and fail to draw near to Him face severe consequences. God's judgment was especially poured out against Jerusalem because of the worship of false gods (idols) and the mistreatment of the poor and un-fortunate among the people. All that could be said about Jerusalem was that she had rebelled against the Creator. Jerusalem (1) Did not obey the voice of God, (2) Did not receive correction from God, (3) Did not trust in the Lord, and (4) Did not draw near to God. These failures are a certain formula for destruction and misery. Both the religious and civil leaders were like lions and wolves as they devoured the people, leaving nothing. The false prophets and false priest proudly led the people away from God. They disgraced the place of worship and abused the law of God. Sadly, these people felt no shame for their actions. But "the Lord does right and is always fair." Nations that forget God bring certain destruction upon themselves. These people should have listened to God. Instead they were corrupt and evil. The doom of the nation was certain so now they can only deal with the consequences of their actions. God said, "Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings." ( Zep_3:7 ) Observe that they were so set on evil that they rose up early to do it.

Verses 8-13

Wait upon the Lord -- Zep_3:8-13 : God gave a very specific promise that His judgment was coming upon the Jews. He promised that He would punish them with fiery anger. God's faithful prophets had warned and exhorted His people to be faithful. They refused and now the punishment would be that the entire land of Judah would be devastated by the invading forces. The captivity would bring the people back to respect and service to the one true God. During captivity the people would learn how to speak about God and how to serve and honor Him. Captivity provided a cure for idolatry. The people learned to serve the one true and living God. The majority of the captivity took place in Babylon. Others were scattered in various other parts of the world. Those that were scattered in other places would learn of the rebuilding of the land and the Temple and they too would return to offer sacrifice to the true and living God. God promised that the captivity would do away with those filled with pride and arrogance. The people that returned from captivity would be meek, humble and willing to trust in the Almighty. The Lord promised that He would not destroy any afflicted and poor person that trusted in Him. These were the people that had been taken advantage of by the godless princes and false proph-ets. This remnant of the people lived right, spoke truth and conduct themselves without fear.

Verses 14-17

The Lord will bless his people -- Zep_3:14-17 : The expression "Daughter of Zion" refers to Jerusalem and her people. Everyone in Jerusalem could celebrate and shout because they had been delivered from oppression. After seventy years their punishment would be over. Babylon would be overthrown and God's people would be relieved from oppression. The enemy would literally turn and retreat. As they returned to the homeland the God would be at their side to attend to them. There they did not have to worry nor fear. The Lord was in their midst, therefore it could be said, "Don't be discouraged or grow weak from fear!" Hope should have been stirred in the hearts of the Jews when God spoke of the return from captivity by telling them that, (1) They would be in His presence, (2) He would save them, (3) He would rejoice over them with joy, (4) They would rest in His love, and (5) He would joy over them with singing. The Lord God wins victory after victory for His people.

Verses 18-20

Promises from God -- Zechariah 3:18-20: The message of Zephaniah is simple; Judgment is coming, but deliverance will come to those who are willing to repent. God promised that He would gather that remnant that sorrowed over the reproach of His people. He said, "I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden." ( Zep_3:18 ) God promised that He would afflict the nations that had punished the Jews. He also promised that He would bring back the remnant, the people that had repented, to the home land. God promised, "Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame." ( Zep_3:19 ) God promised that He would turn back the captivity. When the time in Babylon had accomplished its purpose God promised that He would restore His nation to their home land. How encouraged the people must have been when God said, "I will lead you home, and with your own eyes you will see me bless you with all you once owned. Then you will be famous everywhere on this earth. I, the LORD, have spoken!" ( Zep_3:20 )

Today the church is admonished to stay faithful to God in order to receive His blessings. Those that serve God are blessed and those that rebel are punished. Is it your desire to see the will of God done?

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Zephaniah 3". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/zephaniah-3.html. 2014.
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