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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Zephaniah 2

Verses 1-3

DISCOURSE: 1228
REPENTANCE URGED

Zephaniah 2:1-3. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; 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 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.

IN the preceding chapter, the most dreadful judgments are denounced against the whole Jewish nation. That devoted people are represented as a sacrifice, which God himself has prepared to be devoured by their enemies, whom he has invited as guests to come and prey upon them [Note: Zephaniah 1:7.]. Yet, as God afforded space for repentance to the Ninevites, notwithstanding the apparent immutability of his decree against them, so he does here to his own people the Jews. By the voice of his prophet he bids them “gather themselves together” for the purpose of national humiliation, and repent, before the threatened judgments come upon them. And, if they in their national capacity will not hear his voice, he bids the meek and contrite among them to abase themselves, that they at least may be preserved amidst the general wreck.

A similar exhortation is at all times seasonable; since at all times there are the heaviest judgments impending over the ungodly, and since by true and timely penitence they may be averted.
To analyze this passage, will be to enervate its force. I shall therefore ground upon it a general address, having respect to its main import, and prosecuting in an unartificial way its more prominent topics. Know then, that
The most dreadful judgments hang over an ungodly world—
[There is a day wherein “God will judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained, even by our Lord Jesus Christ.” That day is called “the day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God;” and “the day of the perdition of ungodly men [Note: Romans 2:5. 2 Peter 3:7.].” But the terrors of that day who can conceive? Who can form any idea of what is meant by that wrath of God, which is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men [Note: Romans 1:18.]?” Who can imagine what it is to be “cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,” where “the worm,” that gnaws the conscience, “dieth not, and the fire is not quenched?” In a word, the “power of his anger who can tell [Note: Psalms 90:11.]?”]

To escape those judgments should be the one concern of every living man—
[There is no man who is not justly exposed to them: all are trangressors of God’s holy law, and consequently obnoxious to the curse which it denounces against sin. All then, as with one heart and one mind, should unite in deprecating the displeasure of their God, and in “fleeing for refuge to the hope set before them” in the Gospel — — — Hear this, “O people not desired:” whether through the hardness of your hearts ye are not desired by God, or through your ignorance of him are not desirous of his favour, (for the prophet’s expression may be understood in either way;) you should not lose an hour in embracing the proffered mercy. If once “the decree bring forth,” there will be an end of all possibility of obtaining mercy to all eternity. “As the tree falls, so will it lie” for ever and ever. O, then let all of you “gather yourselves together,” and, as the word also imports, “search yourselves,” ere it be too late. For your immortal souls’ sake, repent, I beseech you, without delay, “before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you.”]

To those who have any measure of humility and contrition, this truth will approve itself as most unquestionable and most important—
[Prevalent as impiety is to a vast extent, there are some, I trust, “who have wrought God’s judgment,” and laboured in sincerity to fulfil his will. Such, it might be supposed, would be most self-confident. But the very reverse is their experience: the more observant they have been of the Lord’s statutes, the more will they be humbled under a sense of their defects: they are, and ever will be, “the meek of the earth.” To such then we address ourselves with the greater hope of success: “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth.” You have already shewn that you think God is to be feared: your very attainments, small as they may be, yet testify in your behalf that you are neither “undesirous,” or “undesired.” You have chosen God; and that is a proof that God has previously chosen you [Note: John 15:16.]. Relax not then your endeavours: be not contented to have run well for a season: press forward, forgetful of all that you may have attained: “never be weary in well-doing,” lest you “turn back,” and “your last end be worse than your beginning.”]

But let your humiliation be such as God requires—
[“Seek righteousness, seek meekness;” “seek righteousness” in the way wherein God has appointed it to be obtained, even by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by his own obedience unto death, has brought in an everlasting righteousness for the justification of the ungodly; and by his efficacious and all-sufficient grace will “sanctify you throughout, in body, soul, and spirit.” Rest not in any thing short of the full possession of Christ and all his benefits: but labour night and day, till “he is, of God, made unto you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Particularly “seek meekness” also; for that is the grace which God most delights in: “the broken and contrite heart he will not despise;” on the contrary, he will come down from the highest heavens to testify his regard for it, and to make it his habitation [Note: Isaiah 57:15.]. If there be one grace more than another which distinguishes the more advanced Christian, it is that of humility. Job was a “perfect” man before his sufferings; but, after them, his attainments in grace were exceedingly enlarged; and then it was that he “abhorred himself in dust and ashes.” Do ye also aspire after perfection in every grace; but learn most of all to “lothe yourselves,” when you have the most confident hope that “God is pacified towards you [Note: Ezekiel 16:63.].”]

It shall then assuredly prove effectual for the salvation of your souls—
[“Repent,” says the prophet, “and turn from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Where the judgments are of a temporal nature, the true penitent may hope that God will put a difference between him and others [Note: Ezekiel 9:4.]; but in reference to judgments that shall be inflicted in the eternal world, he may be sure of it. The sheep and the goats shall have their appropriate places assigned them; and the wheat be treasured up in the gamer, whilst “the chaff is burnt up with unquenchable fire.” Were there but a peradventure concerning this, it were quite sufficient to encourage our deepest penitence: but it is not a matter of uncertainty: it not only “may be,” but shall be: and not the smallest grain of true wheat shall ever be lost [Note: Amos 9:9.]. Did Jesus, even in the days of his flesh, lose one whom the Father had given him? No: “nor will he ever suffer one to be plucked out of his hands.” “Their lives are now hid with Christ in God; and therefore when He, who is their life, shall appear, they also shall appear with him in glory [Note: Colossians 3:3-4.].”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Zephaniah 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/zephaniah-2.html. 1832.