Zephaniah 1


God judges the evil of His people


1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. 2 I will utterly consume all things from off the face of the land, says the LORD. 3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heaven, the fish of the sea, and the idols with the wicked; and I will cut man off from the land, says the LORD. 4 I will also stretch out my hand on Judah, and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; 5 and those that worship the host of heaven on the housetops; and those that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; 6 and those that have turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.


  • The name Zephaniah means ‘he whom the Lord has hidden.’
  • God’s word to His people through Zephaniah is a judgment on evil and a promise to the faithful.
  • In Noah’s day God washed the earth clean of all the evil that man had chosen.


The great day of the Lord is at hand


Hold your peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, he has sanctified his guests. 8 And it will come to pass in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all that are clothed with foreign garments. 9 In the same day also I will punish all those that leap on the threshold, who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. 10 And it will happen in that day, says the LORD, that there will be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, a howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. 11 Howl, you inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all those that carry silver are cut off.


  • Not only were they worshipping false ‘no gods’ but money had become an idol to them as well.
  • God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27) gives us life and breath and all things (Acts 17:25), sent His very Son to die for our sins (John 3:16).
  • When someone turns away from something as wonderful as this, they deserved what they have chosen.
  • John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.


12  And it will happen at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. 13 Therefore their goods will become plunder, and their houses a desolation: they will also build houses, but not inhabit them. And they will plant vineyards, but not drink their wine


  • ‘Settled on their lees’ speaks of the dregs in a cup of wine.
  • God’s vineyard is His people.
  • He planted and lovingly cared for His vineyard looking forward to a harvest of love and joy. 
  • Those settled on their lees are stagnant in spirit or alcoholics that only look for the dregs in the bottom of the cup.


14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hurries greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man will cry bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. 17 And I will bring distress on men so that they will walk like blind men because they have sinned against the LORD: their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh as the dung. 18 Neither their silver or their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath; but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he will make a speedy riddance of all those that dwell in the land.


  • If you do not love someone you are not jealous.
  • This destruction comes from the fire of God’s jealousy because His love for mankind is so great.
  • The coming of the Lord is nearer than ever before!
  • John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this— that a man lay down his life for his friends.
  • Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heaven.


                                             Zephaniah 2


The Lord calls us to seek Him and avert judgment


1 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O nation not desired; 2 Before the decree is issued, before the day passes as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you. 3 Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, those who have done his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.


  • God is angry at the suffering and ruin caused by the evil that people have chosen.
  • God is life. All false gods cause suffering and lead to eternal death.
  • Psalm 7:11 God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
  • Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will preserve me from trouble; you will surround me with songs of deliverance. Rest on it.

4 For Gaza will be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they will drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron will be rooted up. 5 Cries of grief to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will destroy you, so that no inhabitant remains. 6 And the seacoast will be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.


  • Gaza and Askelon were Philistine cities.
  • God turns the mess of man into peaceful loveliness, cottages for shepherds on the shore.


7 And the coast will be for those remaining of the house of Judah; they will feed there: in the houses of Ashkelon will they lie down in the evening when the LORD their God will visit them, and turn away their captivity. 8 I have heard the contempt of Moab, and the reviling of the children of Ammon, by which they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. 9 Therefore as I live, says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab will be like Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding place of nettles, and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation: the remainder of my people will plunder them, and the remnant of my people will possess them. 10 They will have this for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. 11 The LORD will be terrible to them: for he will famish/kill by starvation all the gods of the earth; and men will worship him, every one from his place, even all the coasts of the heathen.


  • When Job’s testing/purifying/refining was over it was said that God ‘turned the captivity’ of Job (Job 42:10).
  • God replaced the divine hedge of protection around him.
  • God created life; He alone sustains it.
  • Even the forces of evil are sustained by God…He will famish them.
  • Pride is the source of all sin.
  • Adam and Eve’s pride lifted them up equal with God.
  • Obedience would have humbled itself under God’s command not to eat of the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Remember that evil has a face that looks good.
  • You can discern evil by asking, Is this trusting God, or leaving out God?


12  You Ethiopians also, you will be slain by my sword. 13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. 14 And flocks will lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the pelican and the bittern will lodge in its upper lintels; their voice will sing in the windows; desolation will be in the thresholds: for he will uncover the cedar work. 15 This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how she has become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Every one that passes by her will hiss, and shake his fist.


  • Micah 5:15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations that have not obeyed me.”
  • Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die…
  • 2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some men count slowness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.


                                             Zephaniah 3


1 Cries of grief to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! 2 She has not obeyed the voice; she did not receive correction; she did not trust in the LORD; she did not draw near to her God. 3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they leave nothing for the morning. 4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary; they have done violence to the law.


  • God calls to earth all day long. He strives with man. He tries to correct us.
  • Psalm 50:1 The mighty God, even the LORD, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down of it.
  • Micah 5:15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”
  • James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.


The LORD is just; He is in the midst

The earth will be devoured with the fire of His jealousy


The just LORD is in the midst of it; he will not do iniquity: every morning he brings his judgment to light, he does not fail; but the unjust know no shame. 6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, so that none passes by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is no inhabitant. 7 I said, Surely you will fear me, you will receive instruction; so their dwelling would not be cut off, however I punished them: but they rose early and corrupted all their doings. 8 Therefore wait on me, says the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.


  • His anger is great because His love for mankind is so great.
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • Exodus 34:14 For you will worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.


For then I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call on the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. 10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshippers, even the daughter of my dispersed, will bring my offering. 11 In that day you will no longer be ashamed for all you doings, in which you have transgressed against me? for then I will take away out of the midst of you those that rejoice in your pride, and you will no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. 12 I will also leave in the midst of you an afflicted and poor people, and they will trust in the name of the LORD.


  • Israel was proud and became lifted up because they were the people of the Creator of the universe.
  • God wants to prosper, but for our good.
  • If our fullness causes us to depart from Him for lesser pleasures and sin, then He must wait to bless us until we are mature enough in Him to handle that blessing.


13  The remnant of Israel will not do iniquity, or speak lies; neither will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they will feed and lie down, and none will make them afraid. 14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The LORD has taken away your judgments, he has cast out your enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of you: you will not see evil any more. 16 In that day it will be said to Jerusalem, Do not fear: and to Zion, Do not let your hands droop. 17 The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over you with singing.


  • Our God in the midst of us is the Almighty God.
  • These great truths free us from the discouragement of this life.
  • The One who loves us enough to die for us is the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth.
  • He will rejoice over us with joy, He will rest in His love; He will joy over us with singing!


18  I will gather those that grieve about the appointed feasts, they came from you, to whom its reproach was a burden. 19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict you: and I will save her that is lame, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. 20 At that time I will bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: 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, says the LORD.


  • ‘Turning the captivity is explained by Job 1, 2, and 42:10.
  • God had allowed Satan access to Job for a time of testing and purifying of Job.
  • Then God ‘turned Job’s captivity.’ God replaced the hedge of protection that Satan and evil forces could not penetrate.




SUMMARY: Zephaniah 1-3


  • God judges the evil of His people
  • The great day of the Lord is at hand
  • The Lord calls us to seek Him and avert judgment
  • The LORD is just; He is in the midstThe earth will be destroyed with the fire of His jealousy