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Zephaniah 2:4-15


Fate of Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod


Verses 4-5, “For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted.  Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites!  The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines:  I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant.”  These verses have a historic fulfillment.  Ancient Ashkelon’s ruins are down by the sea, not over modern Ashkelon, which is a part of Israel today.  In the ruins the temple of Dagon can actually be found.  Gaza was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, wiped off the face of the map, same with Ashkelon and Ashdod.  But verse 11 also places a future destruction on these cities, which during the Tribulation will be in the hands of the Idumeans, the modern-day Palestinians (see my commentary on Obediah for a full treatment about why God destroys these peoples from off his land, the Promised Land). 


Judah in the Land


Verses 6-7, “The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks. The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed their flocks there; in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening.  For the LORD their God will intervene for them, and return their captives.”  Verses 6-7 show the Jews as having returned to the coast of Palestine.  It implies a dual setting, one just prior to the 2nd Coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and just after the Messiah, Jesus’ 2nd Coming.  It’s prior historic fulfillment is very recent, and took place in 1948 when Israel was declared an independent nation and fought it’s war of independence against its surrounding Arab neighbors.  This fulfillment took place with the founding of the modern Israeli nation.  So if anyone says the Jews don’t have a Biblical right to the land they’re on, just point them to Zephaniah 2:6-7.  But the complete fulfillment of these two verses occur right after the coming of the Messiah to save them, the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ.  That’s when the flocks and shepherds will really be able to lie down in peace in the pastures, without having to worry about some Palestinian Kytushya rocket coming in and blowing up next to them.


Fate of Moab and Ammon


Verses 8-11, “I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached my people, and made arrogant threats against their borders.  Therefore, as I live,’ says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah---overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation.  The residue of my people shall possess them.’  This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts.”


How Zephaniah chapter 2 to be applied, 2nd Coming all the way


“The LORD will be awesome to them, for he will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations” (verse 11).  This one verse stuck right in the middle of chapter 2 identifies the chapter as mainly applying to the end-times, leading up to and going through the Great Tribulation. 


Ethiopia’s involvement, and the destruction of modern Assyria


Verses 12-15, “‘You Ethiopians also, you shall be slain by my sword.’  And he will stretch out his hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation.  As dry as the wilderness.  The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation.  Both the pelican and the bittern shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars [comment:  There is no seacoast where pelicans and bitterns could live near the historic Nineveh, or the Assyrian Empire, which was landlocked.  Only the Caspian Sea was on the border of Assyria.  But modern day Germany has major coastlines on both the Baltic and North Sea.];  their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be at the threshold; for he will lay bare the cedar work.  This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, ‘I am it, and there is none besides me.’  How has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down!  Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist.”  How Ethiopia is involved in the end-time alliances against the Israelis in the Tribulation remains to be seen.  But some of the modern-day Germans are descendants of ancient Assyria.  But the desolation prophecied here will not be permanent, because a beautiful prophecy in Isaiah shows modern Assyria and Egypt being the number one and number two nations of the world, behind the restored Israel.  There is an awesome future that awaits the Germans and Egyptians during the Millennial Kingdom of God.


Zephaniah 3:1-8, 9-20


The Sin of Jerusalem


Verses 1-8, “Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city!  She has not obeyed his voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD, she has not drawn near to her God.  Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning.  Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.  The LORD is righteous in her midst, he will do no unrighteousness.  Morning by morning he brings his justice to light; he never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.  I have cut off nations, their fortresses are devastated; I have made their streets desolation, with none passing by.  Their cities are destroyed; there is no one, no inhabitant.  I said, ‘Surely you will fear me, you will receive instruction’---so that her dwelling would not be cut off, despite everything for which I punished her.  But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.  ‘Therefore wait for me,’ says the LORD, ‘until the day I rise up for plunder; my determination is to gather the nations to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”  There is an end-time focus in this whole third chapter of Zephaniah, as we’ll see.  It begins with the sin in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem here probably represents the capital (vicariously) of all 12 tribes of Israel, both religious and political within all 12 tribes.  Thus this “oppressing city,” Jerusalem, is a symbolic representation of all that is going on with the political and religious leaders who are ruling over all 12 tribes, wherever and whoever they are now.  Why Jerusalem?  Because Jerusalem was the ancient capital city, both religious and secular, for all 12 tribes of Israel under king’s David and Solomon.  Verses 3-4 condemn four classes of leaders, and God says he’ll bring them to justice.  They are: 1) the priests, religious leaders who aren’t teaching God’s laws.  He actually says “they’ve done violence against God’s laws,” calling them “a yoke of bondage.”  This would equate, quite realistically, to your super-grace without-works oriented Christians today, who call God’s Law a yoke of bondage, saying God’s Law has been “done away with, annulled.”  They also say that anyone keeping God’s Feast days and Sabbath are “under” bondage.  In verse 6 God warns them about what he has done in judgment to other nations. verse 8, “Therefore wait for me,’ says the LORD, ‘until the day I rise up for plunder; my determination is to gather the nations to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.’”  This is a direct reference to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ and how he will gather all nations to do battle with him in Jerusalem (cf. Zechariah 12:1-3; 14:1-2; Revelation 19:19). 


Peaceful Reign of Jesus Christ, the Millennial Kingdom of God on Earth


A Pure Language


Verse 9, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD.”  This sections covers aspects of the peaceful reign of Jesus Christ as the Millennial Kingdom of God starts out on earth.  The first thing mentioned in verse 9 is that God gives the whole world a “pure language.”  What God did at Babel he undoes.  This will facilitate God’s Word and his Law going out to the nations, Isaiah 2:2-3, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths.’  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”  God’s Word itself, the Bible, will be in clear, easy to understand language, this pure one-world language.  How much easier will the Gospel proclamation of Isaiah 2:2-3 be with the earth speaking one pure language.  And doctrinal misunderstandings will become a thing of the past.


Israel now a “humble and meek” people


Verses 10-13, “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshippers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering.  In that day you shall not be shamed by any of your deeds in which you transgress against me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.  I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.  The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”  God’s people will no longer be prideful and haughty or disobedient.  They will be a “meek and humble” people, and instead of speaking lies they’ll speak the truth.  They’ll be gentle shepherds.  Being shepherds, a shepherd nation is really important.  Why?  Read Philip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.  Sheep act exactly like people do.  If Israel is to be the servant-leadership nation of the world, guiding and leading the world under Jesus Christ, it will help them immensely if they are shepherds, just as King David was.


Yeshua, Jesus dwelling in Jerusalem


Verses 14-17, “Sing, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  The LORD has taken away your judgments, he has cast out your enemy.  The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.  In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:  Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak.  The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  The joy of Jerusalem is proclaimed here.  Yahweh, Yeshua haMeshiach is here, Jesus Christ is now literally dwelling in their midst (along with all of the resurrected immortal saints, us, the “despised nation” of Zephaniah 2:1-3).  Jesus, Yeshua is actually portrayed as rejoicing over Jerusalem with singing!


All Who Were Driven Out of Jerusalem Returned


Verses 18-20, “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden.  Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame.  At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the world, when I return your captives before your eyes,’ says the LORD.”  The subject here, as in the beginning is Jerusalem.  But remember Jerusalem was representative of all 12 tribes of Israel.  But here I think it is more specific.  During the Tribulation, as indicated in other Minor Prophets, some of the inhabitants of the Israeli nation and of Jerusalem were sold into slavery in foreign lands.  Greece is mentioned as being one of those lands.  This is about Yeshua, the LORD bringing back those captives, back into the land and Jerusalem.  But in a greater sense, it points to the return of all 12 tribes of Israel to the Promised Land.  Interestingly enough, verse 18 according to Feinberg is a direct reference to the “Feasts of the LORD” which Jesus prophecied in both Isaiah 66:22-23 and Zechariah 14:16-19 will be restored.  Their observance will become commanded for all nations.  As most people know, but they try to avoid the subject, Sunday/Christmas/Easter all have strong pagan origins (December 25th Baal’s birthday anyone?).  Whereas God’s Sabbath and Holy Days are direct shadow-pictures of key elements of God’s overall Plan of Salvation for mankind (see  As Calvary Chapel’s Dr. David Hocking (a racial Jew) told their pastors during a pastor’s meeting, ‘You pastors had better get used to the idea of observing Sabbath and Holy Days [of Leviticus 23:1-44], because we’ll all be keeping them in the Millennial Kingdom of God.”  Well, if they’re spiritually better, less “tainted” with pagan origins, and more spiritually significant, my question is “Why wait until Jesus re-institutes them in the Millennium?”

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