October 19

Zephaniah 2:4-3:20

We are in the Exile Stream reading from The Living Bible.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord, As we read today, we are reminded of the song, “Who Is on The Lord’s Side?”  Heaven knows it is not safe to be anywhere else.  Guide us Holy Spirit in all our endeavors and remind us to remain on your side.  Amen.

2:4ff. – The royal spanking of Judah was in process.  The Babylonians struck in three separate attacks.  First in 605 B.C., second in 597 B.C. and finally in 586 B.C.  Zephaniah is writing before the third attack.  Those neighbors and some far away who all hated the Jews were delighted at the Hebrews being in distress.  The Babylonians came in waves and they weren’t going to stop until they had finished their job and smashed Jerusalem.  The whole Near Eastern World knew what was coming.  The countries around Judah were basically all set and excited to watch it go down.  And yes, they had their personal buckets of popcorn in hand!  So God is using Zephaniah to send a not-so-subtle memo to the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Ethiopians (plus their northern neighbors), and to the Assyrians.  It was basically: “Cheer all you want – YOU’RE NEXT!”  You may remember smirking a bit as a kid while one of your siblings received a paddling years ago.  The mood changed in a moment, didn’t it, when your parents glanced at you and announced, “now it’s your turn!”?  That is exactly what is coming for all of Judah’s neighbors and enemies.  Within 20 years all of those who were enjoying Judah getting traumatized – they were flattened by these same Babylonians that they had been cheering on.  The fate came home for them and their cultures as their cities fell silent.  The great city of Nineveh’s fall was the greatest shock, and relief, to everyone who couldn’t conceive that anyone would ever overtake them.  Even Nineveh fell silent as the Babylonians marched right through and then out the other side with bloodied swords.  So goes things for the enemies of God’s people, of God’s rules, of God’s ways, … for the enemies of God.
3 – And God doesn’t give Jerusalem a split second to chatter, “nya nya nya” at her enemies that Zephaniah has just scolded.  God remains livid at them as their selfish leaders, false prophets, and crooked judges churn away and charge ahead getting all they can for themselves and serving no one but themselves.  ‘Sounds unnervingly familiar, eh?
The literature takes a grand shift in Zeph. 3:9 as God will one day pull His people together after the storm passes.  Captivity will end, the communication and worship will be purely God-honoring, the whole earth will be affected by this development. Hints of this occurred in 1948 when Israel was reestablished, and Hebrew was made the national language.  There is also a seeming prediction of the millennial reign when Christ’s rule is unimpeded, evil is bound/expelled and there is peace on earth in Rev. 20. Though Zephaniah does not state it definitively, he also talks in concert with the new heaven and the new earth mentioned in Rev. 21 and 22.  It never ceases to be amazing that those who claim to follow God, and those who fight God and those oblivious to God, can all be so equally bad. AND that God can prophesy such hope against [and in the face of] such imminent disaster.  My o my!

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