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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Zephaniah 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Chapter 2

Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired ( Zephaniah 2:1 );

Now that "not desired" in the Hebrew literally means "a nation that knows no shame." They were doing shameful things, but they refused to be ashamed.

Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger has come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger ( Zephaniah 2:2-3 ).

So the Lord's promise to hide those from the day of His anger.

When the Great Tribulation comes upon the earth, just before it comes, and what will actually be the final straw, so to speak, will be the desecration of the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

Now, prophetically the temple is to be rebuilt. When the temple is rebuilt, this man, who in the scripture is known as the son of perdition or the man of sin, the beast, often called the antichrist, he is going to come to the temple; he's going to stand in the holy place and declare that he is god and is going to demand to be worshiped as God. Jesus speaking to Israel, to the Jews at this time, who see this manifestation, said to them, "And when you see the abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet spoke about, standing in the holy place, then flee to the wilderness" ( Matthew 24:15-16 ).

Now in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, ( Rev Zephaniah 2:12 ) as John sees, first of all, the woman, Israel, clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars. And then he sees the second wonder in heaven, the great dragon, Satan, who is cast out of heaven. And he goes to make war against the woman's seed, or the remnant of the nation of Israel, or the people of Israel. But in the book of Revelation it says that the woman's seed are given wings of an eagle, to bear them to the wilderness place where they will be nourished for three and a half years. So that they will not come under the dominion and the control of the antichrist, but will flee to this wildernesses place that God has prepared for them. Which according to Isaiah, chapter 16 ( Isaiah 16:0 ), will be the rock city of Petra, where many of the Jews will flee for survival. And God will watch over them and take care of them there. This also is made mention of in the twenty-sixth chapter of Isaiah ( Isaiah 26:0 ), the last few verses, where God bears them safely to a place of refuge until His indignation be overpassed, or the wrath of God, the judgments of God are over.

So here again is the promise of the Lord for those people in that day to seek the Lord. "All ye meek of the earth which have wrought His judgment, seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." It is possible that they can be those that will be preserved miraculously by God in this wilderness place where they will be taken care of by the Lord for three and a half years. So that's a yet future experience for the Jews. It is not the church. The church, of course, will be caught up in the rapture before these things take place.

For [he said] Gaza shall be forsaken [or Gaza], and Ashkelon a desolation: and they shall drive out Ashdod at the noonday, and Ekron shall be rooted up ( Zephaniah 2:4 ).

These are the cities, the major cities of the Philistines. The Gaza, and of course, you're reading an awful lot in the last couple weeks of the Gaza Strip and the problems that are going on there right now. Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron.

Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! for the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the seacoast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah ( Zephaniah 2:5-7 );

Now this is a fascinating prophecy, because during the time of the Old Testament, the Philistines were one of the strong and perennial enemies of the Jews. The cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath were the major Philistine cities. They were in the coastal plains. They were a constant thorn in the flesh to Israel. The tribe of Dan tried to settle in that area, but they found that the Philistines were too strong for them. So the tribe of Dan went way up in the north part of the land in the upper Galilee region, and there the tribe of Dan settled north of Lachish, clear on up near the base of Mount Hermon.

But the Lord is here predicting that the Philistines are going to be destroyed and that these cities will be desolate. They will just be places where the Nomadic Bedouins keep their flocks. But then the prophecy goes on to declare, "The coast shall be for a remnant of the house of Judah,"

and they shall feed thereon ( Zephaniah 2:7 ):

Now it's extremely interesting that in these days in which we live, these Philistine cities Ashdod, Ashkelon have been rebuilt into Jewish communities. In Ashdod the Israelis have built their major seaport. Most of the shipping is no longer done out of Haifa, but it's done out of Ashdod. And as God has declared, this area for years, for over a thousand years, was just grazing land for the Bedouins. But when Israel became a nation again, they began the rebuilding projects. One of the major projects was the rebuilding of this area of Ashdod and the making of this modern seaport. Also, Ashkelon, and so they have settled now in the area that was once a part of the Philistine territory. So this fascinating prophecy of Zephaniah has been fulfilled during some of our lifetime. Some of you kids are still too young; it happened before you were born, but I do remember it. "And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they shall feed there upon."

and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity ( Zephaniah 2:7 ).

So this, of course, is a prophecy of the rebirth of the nation Israel.

I've heard the reproach of Moab, the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border ( Zephaniah 2:8 ).

Moab and Ammon, of course, had magnified themselves; they took the West Bank from Israel when Israel became a nation in 1948. King Jordan moved in with his troops and took the West Bank. The Lord here speaks about it, "I know the reproach how they've magnified themselves against their border."

Therefore, as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab will become as Sodom [that's present day Jordan], and the children of Ammon [the capital of Jordan] as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them ( Zephaniah 2:9 ).

So it looks like Jordan is in for trouble with Israel from this prophecy of Zephaniah. Of course, it is interesting that at the present time the strategy of General Sharon, the defense minister of Israel, is to drive the PLO out of Lebanon into Jordan and make Jordan the Palestinian state. Helping the PLO to depose King Hussein. That is the present strategy planned by General Sharon, and it is interesting that Zephaniah speaks much of that taking place 2,100 years ago. No, more than that, 2,600 years ago.

This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts ( Zephaniah 2:10 ).

The Lord said, "Touch not My anointed, do My prophets no harm." The Lord said He would bless those that blessed Abraham; He would curse those that cursed them. So Moab, or Jordan, is to fall because of their treatment of God's people, the people of the Lord of hosts. Now, it isn't that the people of the Lord of hosts are so righteous. It's just that God has chosen them. And because God has chosen them, we should respect them.

The LORD will be awesome unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen [or the coasts of the heathen]. Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and he will make Nineveh a desolation ( Zephaniah 2:11-13 ),

So at this time that Zephaniah was prophesying, Nineveh was still existing. It had not yet been destroyed by the Medes and the Babylonians.

The flock shall lie down in the midst of her, all of the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: [that great city of Nineveh] and how has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand ( Zephaniah 2:14-15 ).

Nineveh, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. It took three days to walk through the city of Nineveh from one end to the other. Yet here's the prophet making this amazing prophecy: it's gonna be desolate. Sheep are gonna graze there. In the houses that once existed there, the owl and the bittern will lodge in the thresholds. It will be a place for the dwelling of wild animals. As improbable as that prophecy of Zephaniah did seem at that time, yet it came to pass. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Zephaniah 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/zephaniah-2.html. 2014.
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