ZEPHANIAH CHAPTER 2.
The Lordís Call to Repentance.
THE EXHORTATION AND THE DOOM OF THE PHILISTINES. ó V. 1. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, as for a penitential assembly with earnest self-examination, o nation not desired, literally, ďthat does not grow pale,Ē which till now has felt no sense of shame, V. 2. before the decree bring forth, when, according to Godís plan, the day of judgment upon Judah would suddenly come, before the day pass as the chaff, coming on quickly as when the wind carries the chaff along, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lordís anger come upon you, as it surely would if they would not show the proper repentance. V. 3. Seek ye the Lord, in proper repentance, all ye meek of the earth, the humble of the land, those who were still disposed to he guided by His will, which have wrought His judgment, observed His right, trying to fulfill the decrees of His holy Word; seek righteousness, with ever greater truth and sincerity, seek meekness, with all humility, with a constant sense of their own unworthiness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lordís anger, so that the Lord would make use of mercy rather than a strict accounting and save them in the general overthrow. This exhortation is now supported by a reference to the doom of three heathen nations. V. 4. For Gaza shall be forsaken, overthrown and forgotten, and Ashkelon a desolation; they shall drive out Ashdod, the chief seat of the worship of Dagon, at the noon day, since she would be helpless even at midday, so that there would be no need of resorting to a night attack, and Ekron shall be rooted up. The four Philistine city-states here mentioned are clearly representative of the entire country, as the next statements show. V. 5. Woe unto the inhabitants of the seacoast, of the plains along the Mediterranean sea, the nation of the Cherethites, for a part of the Philistines, at least, traced their descent to the ancient people of Crete; the word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, the word Canaan here applied chiefly to the lowlands of Palestine to the west; I will even destroy thee that there shall be no inhabitant, the nation as such to be destroyed. V. 6. And the seacoast, then teeming with the life of rich commercial cities, shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, dugouts and shanties, or places for pastures where they would carry on the work of their calling, and folds for flocks, the land reverting to the use of nomads. V. 7. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah, those whom the Lord would lead hack to their own country; they shall feed thereupon, making the country a pasture-ground; in the houses of Ashkelon, which would no longer be inhabited, shall they lie down in the evening; for the Lord, their God, shall visit them, the remnant of Judah, whom He intended to make the nucleus of a renewed people, and turn away their captivity. The members of the Jewish nation that returned from Babylonia were those in whose midst the Lord preserved His Church and among whom He established the Church of the New Testament. So the Messianic idea is brought out even in this connection.
THE DOOR OF MOAB, AMMAN, AND ASSYRIA. ó V. 8. I have heard the reproach of Moab, cp. Jer. 48, 27, and the revilings of the children of Amman, the two nations east of Jordan and of the Dead Sea, which were related to the children of Israel, but later became the enemies of Godís people and made known their hostility in bitter blasphemies, whereby they have reproached my people, in proud mockery and scorn, and magnified themselves against their border, acted violently against the boundary of the Lordís people, constantly attempting to get into possession of some of Israelís territory. V. 9. Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, the supreme Ruler of the world, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Amman as Gamorrah, being overwhelmed by the destruction which was the fate of their ancestorís cities, even the breeding of nettles, a weed growing only in desolate places, and salt-pits, on the shore of the Dead Sea, and a perpetual desolation, a desert until the end of time; the residue of My people shall spoil them, take possession of their land, and the remnant of My people shall possess them, these events being typical of the destruction of the sinners and the redemption of the Lordís people. V. 10. This shall they have for their pride, in proper retaliation for the manner in which they had dealt with Jehovahís people, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts. V. 11. The Lord will be terrible unto them, dealing with them in a manner which is hound to strike terror to their hearts; for He will famish, or destroy, all the gods of the earth, all the idols in which men placed their trust; and men shall worship Him, acknowledging His supremacy, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen, namely, when men from every nation of the earth would he gained for the Gospel-truth, this being a further Messianic feature in this chapter. V. 12. Ye Ethiopians also, representatives of the heathen nations of the South, ye shall be slain by My sword, the statement in the third person dismissing them as of no further importance. V. 13. And He will stretch out His hand against the North, and destroy Assyria, powerful though it was at that time, and will make Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Jonah 1, 2, a desolation, although it was then surrounded by a network of irrigation canals, and dry like a wilderness. The prophet purposely devotes more time to Assyria, because it was at that time the greatest world-power and particularly hostile to the Lordís people. V. 14. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, the former great city had been leveled to the ground and reverted back to a pasture-ground, all the beasts of the nations, beasts of all kinds in droves or great masses; both the cormorant, the pelicans, and the bittern, or hedge-hog, shall lodge in the upper lintels of it, on the capitals of pillars standing in the midst of the ruins; their voice shall sing in the windows, or, ďhark how tile singer sings in the window,Ē where he has built his nest; desolation, or dirt, shall be in the thresholds; for He shall uncover the cedar work, all the beautiful cedar paneling of their palaces the Lord has torn away, and it has fallen into decay. V. 15. This is the rejoicing city, where shouts of gaiety were heard without ceasing, that dwelt carelessly, in perfect security, that said in her heart, in proud self-confidence, I am, and there is none beside me. How is she become a desolation, a deserted place, a place for beasts to lie down in, a lair for the animals of the desert. Every one that passeth by her shall hiss and wag his head, both astonished and gratified at the overthrow of the proud city. It is a graphic description of the manner in which the Lord carried out His judgments upon His enemies.