ZEPHANIAH CHAPTER 1.
The Universality of the Judgment.
THE NATURE OF THE JUDGMENT. — V. 1. The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah, being communicated to him by special revelation of the Lord, the prophet tracing his genealogy as follows the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, four representative members from his ancestry being given, in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, who made the last consistent effort to bring about a reformation of the people. V. 2. I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord, sweeping it off the face of the earth in an utter devastation. V. 3. I will consume man and beast, even the creatures being affected by the universality of the judgment; I will consume the fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked, that is, whatever men have offended and transgressed with together with the objects of their idolatry; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord, certainly destroying them off the face of the earth, in a last great destruction. V. 4. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, the particular object of His wrath, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the people of the land followed the inhabitants of the capital in their transgressions; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, for there were still such as adhered to his idolatrous worship, and the name of the Chemarim, the idol-priests, those engaged in the worship of Baal, with the priests, for these also had polluted themselves and were therefore destined for destruction, V. 5. and them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops, regarding sun, moon, and Stars as their gods; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord and that swear by Malcham, by their king, so that they tried to combine the service of the true God and that of Baal, solemnly pledging themselves to the latter’s service, V. 6. and them that are turned back from the Lord, drawing back from Jehovah, and those that have not sought the Lord nor enquired for Him, both the openly wicked and the irreligious being included in the list of Jehovah’s enemies. V. 7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God! ready to submit to His judgment as outlined above; for the day of the Lord is at hand, when His punishment must strike the transgressors; for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, the Jewish nation itself, He hath bid His guests, namely, the world-powers and their allies, all ready to devour Judah. V. 8. And it shall came to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, when His punishment is put into effect, that I will punish the princes, the mighty ones, the dignitaries of state, and the king’s children, all those belonging to the royal family, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel, their dress showing that they were estranged from the national spirit and customs. V. 9. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, namely, that of the temple of Dagon, the idol of the Philistines, 1 Sam. 5, 5, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit, bringing their money and their treasures, unjustly acquired as they are, into the houses of their idols. V. 10. And It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that there shall be the noise of a cry, of a woeful shout, from the fish-gate, that through which the road to Joppa passed, and an howling from the second, from the lower city, where the attack of the enemy would be launched, and a great crashing from the hills, those extending upward from the lower city. The Lord set out to punish, and His judgment was thorough, as it always is in the case of such as refuse to heed His words of warning.
THE EXTENT OF THE JUDGMENT. — V. 11. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, meaning the mortar, a small section of Jerusalem, so called because it presented a depression or hollow, for all the merchant people are cut down, entirely destroyed; all they that bear silver, the traders laden with silver, who occupied that part of the lower city, are cut off. V. 12. And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with candles, investigating even the dark and hidden corners, so that not one of the wrong-doers is overlooked, and punish the men that are settled on their lees, like old wine which is not drawn off, a fit picture of moral and religious indifference, Jer. 48, 11, that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil, that is, there is no need of worry, matters will go on as they always have been. V. 18. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, to be robbed by the enemies, and their houses a desolation, in the overthrow of the city; they shall also build houses, but not Inhabit them, the destruction taking place before they can move into them, and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. Cp. Amos 5,11; Micah 6,15. V.14. The great day of the Lord, the day of His mighty judgment, is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, there will be no further delay, even the voice of the day of the Lord, or, “Hark! the day of Jehovah”; the mighty man shall cry there bitterly, the hero crying in bitter lamentation, because he cannot save himself, and must yield to the power of the foe. V. 15. That day is a day of wrath, cp. Is. 19, 18, a day of trouble and distress, of anguish and pressure, Job 15, 24, a day of wasteness and desolation, of the greatest devastation, a day of darkness and gloominess, Joel 2, 2, a day of clouds and thick darkness, Deut. 4, 11, V. 16, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, in proclaiming God’s power upon a sinful people, in the war-signal of desolation, and against the high towers, the battlements of the forts. V. 17. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, groping about in a futile effort to escape from existing evils, because they have sinned against the Lord; and their blood shall be poured out as dust, in endless quantities, and their flesh as the dung, which is not regarded. V. 18. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them In the day of the Lord’s wrath, they would not be able to buy themselves off when His fury is once set in motion; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, His indignation jealous for His honor; for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land, consuming them with a suddenness which they had not anticipated. Even so will the Day of Judgment come upon a world which, as a whole, is not prepared for the Lord’s last advent. Cp. Matt. 24, 44.