ZEPHANIAH CHAPTER 3.
The Doom of Jerusalem and the Messianic Promise.
THE OBDURACY OF THE CAPITAL CITY. — V. 1. Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, stubborn and full of uncleanness, to the oppressing city where violence against the weak and downtrodden was the order of the day. V. 2. She obeyed not the voice, paying no attention to the Lord’s admonitions; she received not correction, the instruction or discipline which was intended to be of benefit to her; she trusted not in the Lord, placing no confidence in His exhortations and promises; she drew not near to her God, she has become indifferent to Jehovah. V. 3. Her princes within her are roaring lions, bent upon rapine and murder; her judges are evening wolves, driven forth by hunger in the evening, their greed being insatiable; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow, their voracious appetite causing them instantly to devour their victims, laying nothing aside for the next day. V. 4. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons, boastful and faithless knaves; her priests have polluted the Sanctuary, desecrating the Temple by their neglect of the prescribed sacrifices or by their blasphemous manner in offering them; they have done violence to the Law, simply setting aside the precepts of God whose guardians they were supposed to be. V. 5. The just Lord is in the midst thereof, He, the righteous One, having left nothing untried; He will not do iniquity, He commits no wrong; every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, giving evidence of the justice of all His dealings; He faileth not, no blame, therefore, rests on Him. But the unjust knoweth no shame, the wicked people of Jerusalem are not influenced either by the example of God or by His threat of punishment. V. 6. I have cut off the nations, also as an act of warning for Israel; their towers are desolate, their walls and fortresses leveled to the ground; I made their streets waste, the roads obliterated, that none passeth by their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant, all this being done, in part at least, to serve as an example of warning to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. V. 7. I said, Surely thou wilt fear Me, the kindness and tenderness of the warning being emphasized; thou wilt receive instruction, if only thou wouldst suffer thyself to be taught! So their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them, or, “in accordance with all that I had appointed concerning them”; that is, Jehovah hoped still to have mercy on them, so that He would not have to send the threatened punishment; but they rose early, zealous for their wicked works, and corrupted all their doings, they were eager to speed their perverted actions, their infamous deeds. Thus many a godless person refuses to heed the Lord’s call to repentance and deliberately plunges all the more deeply into transgressions of every kind.
THE SALVATION OF THE DAUGHTER OF ZION. — V. 8. Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, this merciful invitation being extended to all who will still listen to His words, until the day that I rise up to the prey, when He pours out His wrath upon the nations; for My determination is to gather the nations, to carry out His punishment upon them, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger, all the burning wrath which He has stored tip against them; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy, by the zeal which He would show on His great Day of Judgment. That is the promise of the Messianic period, the elimination of the enemies as a factor in interfering with the progress of the Lord’s kingdom. V. 9. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, by purifying their sinful lips and thereby enabling them to call upon Him with pure lips, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, in the true unity of a common faith which is described in John 17 and Eph. 4, to serve Him with one consent, literally, “with one shoulder,” all bearing together the pleasant yoke of Jehovah. V. 10. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, from the remotest corners of the earth, My suppliants, those who would worship Jehovah in spirit and in truth, even the daughter of My dispersed, gained for the Lord from the midst of a strange nation, shall bring Mine offering, turning to Him with true worship. V. 11. In that day shalt thou, the restored Israel, the Church of the New Testament, not be ashamed for all thy doings wherein thou hast transgressed against Me, there being no more occasion for such a feeling; for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, the wicked and blasphemous whom the prophet had described at the beginning of the chapter, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of My holy mountain, all boastfulness and pride being eliminated in favor of a meek and humble submission to Jehovah’s reign of mercy. V. 12. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, one fully conscious of its absolute dependence upon the grace and mercy of the covenant God, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord, placing all their confidence in Him alone. V. 13. The remnant of Israel, the nucleus of the Jewish Church, which would become the stock of the Church of the New Testament, shall not do iniquity, not willfully serve wickedness, nor speak lies, becoming guilty of deliberate falsehood, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, particularly so far as false doctrine is concerned; for they shall feed, of the rich pasture offered by the Good Shepherd, and lie down, in calm satisfaction, and none shall make them afraid. Cp. Micah 7,14; Ps. 23. V. 14. Sing, O daughter of Zion, the Church of the New Testament; shout, O Israel, namely, the spiritual Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem, for the communion of the saints is established in the Jerusalem which is above. Cp. Gal. 4, 26. V. 15. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, the sentences of condemnation which had rightly been spoken upon her on account of her sins; He hath cast out thine enemy, sweeping away the world-power which personified all the hostile forces of the world. The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee, namely, in the person of Messiah; thou shalt not see evil any more, His blessings removing everything that might bring evil. V. 16. In that day, in the great Messianic period, it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not, this being the fundamental note of the Gospel-message, as both the Christmas and the Easter stories show; and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack, namely, in terror at the prospect of danger and affliction from without. V. 17. The Lord, thy God, in the midst of thee is mighty, not at a dim distance, but in the closest proximity, and powerful to help; He will save, He is the Savior; He will rejoice over thee with joy, in His delight over the renewal of the marriage covenant between Himself and His Church; He will rest in His love, in quiet satisfaction; He will joy over thee, after His meditation has proved so satisfactory, with singing. Moreover, the Lord will let all humble and afflicted partake of His joy. V. 18. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, mourning far from the festive gathering when the Lord would make His salvation known, who are of thee, they were of the same family and descent, but were now far removed from the visible congregation of the Lord, to whom the reproach of it was a burden, who felt the weight of their captivity among the heathen nations. V. 19. Behold, at that time, in the Messianic period, I will undo all that afflict thee, dealing with the oppressors according to His justice; and I will save her that halteth, heal the limping, and gather her that was driven out, those who were dispersed; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame, so that the name of the Lord’s people would be celebrated everywhere. V. 20. At that time will I bring you again, the calling of the Lord to join His Church being an act of His mercy, even in the time that I gather you, in His Church; for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord. The fulfillment of this prophecy is clearly found in the gathering of the Christian Church, its members being called from the various nations of the earth, and the consummation and climax will be reached in the eventual complete deliverance from this present evil world as the Kingdom of Glory opens its portals.