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by Wayne Blank
The Prophecies of Zephaniah
The Lord's prophecies given to Zephaniah begin right to the point; that Judah, like Israel before them (see When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah") were corrupt - they claimed to be God's people, while behaving like two-timing religious adulterers "that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by The Lord, and that swear by Malcham":
"I will also stretch out Mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by The Lord, and that swear by Malcham; And them that are turned back from The Lord; and those that have not sought The Lord, nor inquired for Him" (Zephaniah 1:4-6 KJV)
Judah, like Israel before them, became so "full of themselves" that they gave credit to each other for their perceived greatness - a self-righteous delusion used to hide the reality that they were no better than any other people (in some ways, they became much worse, as their behavior made itself obvious for all to see; their righteous ancestors who founded their nation would have been as angry and as ashamed of them as God was - see Patriotism), thereby denying that the blessings that they enjoyed were God's conditional gift to those who were, and are, truly, and steadfastly, faithful and obedient to Him. They discovered, the hard way, just as many today are also going to experience, that what The Lord has the power to give to those who obey Him, He also has the power to take away from those who are no longer morally fit to possess it. As plainly stated later in his prophecies, Zephaniah wasn't just given to describe God's people then, he was also describing those who claim to be God's people now.
"That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against The Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of The Lord's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land" (Zephaniah 1:15-18 KJV)
The primary purpose of the Prophets was to warn what will come if a people do not repent; prophets were often the most active while there was still time to repent and avoid the wrath that was otherwise coming:
"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." (Zephaniah 2:2-3 KJV)
Amazingly, Zephaniah was at the same time given to prophesy that the people would not listen to him (God knew what choice that they would make for themselves) and that their doom was coming upon them just as it did for Israel (see The Galilee Captivity). Nevertheless, The Lord also provided a glimpse of a future salvation and deliverance, not merely the later return of the exiles of Judah from Babylon that happened in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, but a salvation of all people from an entire world that has become a religious and political "Babylon" (see A Brainwashed World):
"Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even The Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more."
Fact Finder: Who is the "daughter of Zion" mentioned in Zephaniah 3:16 above?