The Book of Zephaniah
The Prophet Zephaniah, like the Prophet Joel, wrote largely about the coming
Day of the Lord or the last day wrath of God.
Zephaniah was introduced in his own book through the series of paternal line. He
was the great great grandson of king Hezekiah, one of
the latter kings of the House of Judah. He received the revelations from God
during the time of King Josiah between the time 640 to 610 BC. That was about
twenty to fifty years prior to the fall of the House of Judah by the Babylon
After his brief introduction
of himself, he started his book with abrupt warning about God ending all life on
2 "I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the
3 "I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the
air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble
when I cut off man from the face of the earth," declares the LORD.
Notice how similar these
words are when God told Noah before the Great Flood:
Gen 6:11-14, 17-18
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God
saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted
their ways. 13 So God said to Noah , "I am going to put an end to all people,
for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to
destroy both them and the earth.
17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the
heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth
This is God expressing His
anger because of man's sin. During the great deluge, God destroyed all men
except Noah's family in the ark. In the Second Coming, God will also destroy
all life by fire, except those He will save (Isa 43:2). I have discussed in the
past topics how the end will be by fire as Jesus Christ will come with fire (2 Thess 1:7) of extreme heat that even mountains will turn into a molten lava (Mic
The Bible portrays the same
process in every man's complete transformation. First, a person has to be
baptized with water and secondly, baptized also with fire (Matt 3:11). I need to
put more explanation to this with another topic with how important for a person
to experience the baptism of fire. Man's transformation is an illustration that
God will only be able to restore the earth into a blessed place as promised to
Abraham after He purifies it with fire—like precious gold is made pure also with
The nations to suffer most
under God's wrath
1. House of Judah
The House of Judah is first in the list to suffer God's wrath through her
Zephaniah prophesied prior to the fall of the House of Judah. However, his
prophecy on Judah found in
Zeph 1:4-13 is more specific on Judah's fall in the
last days. Judah in these last days, by the way, is actually the nation of Israel
It is not representing the complete twelve tribes of Israel. For more on this please read Israel, The
Divided House. How do I know that his prophecy for Judah pertains to the
last days? Read Zeph 1:7-10
7 Be silent before the
Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a
sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. 8 On the day of the LORD's
sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in
foreign clothes. 9 On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on
the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit. 10
"On that day," declares the LORD, "a cry will go up from the Fish Gate,
wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.
The Bible is specific that
when it mentions "Day of the Lord," it always speaks of the Last Day which is
actually one year (Isa 34:8; 61:2; 63:4), the last year of the Seventy Weeks of
Confirm the Covenant -
History to Repeat Itself for the timeline of the last seven years according
to Daniel. As mentioned, one day in prophecies is measured one year in its fulfillment. It is
true that Zephania's prophecy on the fall of Judah also applies during his time
when Judah fell in the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. But it will
happen again in the future when the nation Israel will fall under the symbolic
Babylonian king to confirm the covenant. The
difference about the last days fulfillment is that, the last days will culminate
with the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when He defeats the Antichrist. That
did not happen yet in the past and so Zephaniah was prophesying about the last
days. When I say "last days" in includes all the last days of the week according
to Daniel's prophecy of the Last Week. But when I say last day, it is specific
on the Day of the Lord, the seventh day of the last seven years.
For the last days
fulfillment, Zephaniah's reference to idol gods Baal (verse 4), the starry hosts
and Molek (or Molech,
verse 5) become symbols
idols and false gods of modern Israel to whom they put their trust. These are
the people who rejected Jesus and embraced other faiths and idols. Read also
Modern Idolatry for
more details on idolatry.
the last days, all nations surrounding tiny Israel will
all turn hostile against the West and Israel. The great
Western Alliance will fall.
Philistia (Philistine) was an ancient region along the
Mediterranean Sea that was conquered and occupied by ancient Israel. It was also
called Canaan, the ancient Land of Promise composing of the five cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and
Gaza. These places still exist and we also call the whole place now as Palestine. We
know for sure that Israel and Palestine can never come into agreement and peace
due to historic and contrasting claims of ownership of their territories. However,
in the end, Israel will repossess the land but not after Israel will suffer
horrible defeat at the hands of the Philistines.
4 Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins. At midday Ashdod will be
emptied and Ekron uprooted. 5 Woe to you who live by the sea, O Kerethite
people; the word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines.
"I will destroy you, and none will be left." 6 The land by the sea, where the
Kerethites dwell, will be a place for shepherds and sheep pens. 7 It will belong
to the remnant of the house of Judah [now Israel]; there they will find pasture.
In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The LORD their God
will care for them; he will restore their fortunes.
3. Moab and Ammon
Moab and Ammon were sons of Lot, two among the traditional enemies of Israel.
They became nations and today, they also surround Israel whose identities only
God knows. No country was named after them except probably, the capital city of
Jordan, Amman, derived from Ammon. Traditionally, Moab and Ammon is now the
nation of Jordan. Some of them may be in Saudi Arabia, still friendly to the
West. Although Israel and Jordan are now at peace through the
peace treaty signed in October 26, 1994, time will come when Jordan will
join with other armies of the Arab world to attack Israel.
8 "I have heard the insults of Moab and the taunts of the Ammonites, who
insulted my people and made threats against their land. 9 Therefore, as surely
as I live," declares the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, "surely Moab will
become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah — a place of weeds and salt pits,
a wasteland forever. The remnant of my people will plunder them; the survivors
of my nation will inherit their land." 10 This is what they will get in return
for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the LORD Almighty. 11
The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land. The
nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land.
Cush was the eldest son of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah. He became the
father of the Cushites known for their toned skin, not necessarily black. These
are the people of North Africa like Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia,
Algeria, Morocco, Chad, Niger, etc. In the ancient times, they were just one
nation, Cush. All these will be united to fight against Israel in the last days.
Again, God assured Israel that they will prevail in the end.
12 "You too, O Cushites, will be slain by my sword.
Assyria was the empire that conquered the House of Israel, not the House of
Judah. However Assyria destroyed some of Judah's cities before the angel of the
Lord annihilated the Assyrian army after plotting to attack Jerusalem. Assyria
today remained in the same area they occupied in biblical times. Today, they are
the nations of Iraq, Syria, part of Iran and Turkey. These nations will soon
joined forces together to invade Europe, the Ten Lost
Tribes and Israel, the House of Judah. Read Who Are the
Ten Horns of the Beast? - Part 1 and
Part 2 to follow the journeys of the ancient kingdoms up to the last days.
In our study,
The Prophecies of Nahum, we
have explained why Assyria became not only the worst enemy of Israel but also
the entire world in the last days. It will be Assyria who will fire the first
salvo to start the war against the modern Israel. Again, God will finally put an
end to Assyria and to its capital city Nineveh, where the
Antichrist will come from.
13 He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria,
leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert. 14 Flocks and herds will
lie down there, creatures of every kind. The desert owl and the screech owl will
roost on her columns. Their calls will echo through the windows, rubble will be
in the doorways, the beams of cedar will be exposed. 15 This is the carefree
city that lived in safety. She said to herself, "I am, and there is none besides
me." What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her
scoff and shake their fists.
The Great Day of the Lord
“When you pass through the waters, I will
be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over
you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will
not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).
The Lord will burn the earth, but the saved will not get hurt.
Going back to chapter 1 of
the book, Zephaniah explained how the Day of the Lord will be like. All the
other prophets described that day in the same manner—day of gloom and pit
darkness, day of wrath, day of fire melting all elements.
14 "The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The
cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. 15
That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble
and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16 a day
of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner
towers. 17 I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind
men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out
like dust and their entrails like filth. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath. In the fire of his
jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all
who live in the earth."
The Day of the Lord will
swiftly take place on the very last year of the last seven years of Daniel. The
Antichrist, will cause desolation for forty-two months until the time God's
wrath is poured out on him.
27 "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of
the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the
temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that
is decreed is poured out on him."
By causing terror throughout
the West and the world, the Antichrist is actually repeating the past events on
God's chosen nation, Israel. He is actually confirming that what were written in
the Bible regarding Israel and the world indeed happened for there is nothing
new under the sun (Ecc
1:9). For example, Zephaniah mentioned, "I will bring distress on
the people and they will walk like blind men..." (Zeph
1:17). This repeats what happened in the city of Sodom when one night
before the city was burned to the ground, God blinded the men so they can not do
evil against Lot and his angel visitors (Gen
19:10-11). I will illustrate more examples like this in my future topics.
God's justifies His wrath
In chapter 3, Zephaniah
summarized and explained why God will destroy His chosen people but after that,
the new Kingdom of Israel will rise.
Zeph 3:1-5 details the sins of His people and the prophet used many
adjectives to describe them.
Verse 1 - Oppressive,
rebellious and defiled
Verse 2 - Disobedient,
accepts no correction, unfaithful, refusing to draw near to God
Verse 3 - Her officials are
brutal like lions and wolves
Verse 4 - Her prophets are
arrogant and treacherous, her priests are wicked and violent to the Law
Verse 5 - Her people are
unrighteous and shameless
Verses 6-7 is about God's
wrath not simply destroying the nations but to purify Israel and every people
that are called by His name to make them repentant and come back to God. And yet
His people still refused to obey.
6 "I have cut off nations; their strongholds are demolished. I have left
their streets deserted, with no one passing through. Their cities are destroyed;
no one will be left — no one at all. 7 I said to the city, 'Surely you will fear
me and accept correction!' Then her dwelling would not be cut off, nor all my
punishments come upon her. But they were still eager to act corruptly in all
In verse 8, it talks about
the time when the Lord Jesus Christ will gather all nations in one place to
testify to them and right there, all those who refuse to obey will be consumed.
This will be the Battle of Armageddon. All those
who endured and waited for the Lord's coming will be rewarded and will also be
gathered back to the original Promised Land through he
Great Exodus. Then all the nations will be in one place. This is the last and
final act of God against His enemies and it will happen in the very last day
prior to the start of the Millennium. By then, the
earth will be empty of sinners.
8 Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day I will stand up to
testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to
pour out my wrath on them — all my fierce anger. The whole world will be
consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.
The rest of the chapter
describes the future glory of Israel. No more will they defile the name of God.
God has promised so much blessings for the new Kingdom of Israel. The future
glory is summarized in these few verses:
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with
all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your
punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with
you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to
Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD
your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah was very firm and
direct in warning us today. We belong to the last days generation. He also
declared that the Day of the Lord is coming near and quickly (Zeph
1:14). Let us all be prepared to receive all the promises of God. If we
belong to Him, there will be nothing that can harm us, we shall fear nothing if
we are on the side of the Lord. The coming wrath of God may be frightening but
today, let us not be motivated by fear but by our love for God.