Dave Burnette's Commentary

Zephaniah Chapter 1

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Zephaniah
Date Penned: BC 640-521
Overview: A Warning for Judah to Repent (c 1-3)
Theme: The Day of Wrath (c 1-2)
Message: Zephaniah predicts the Destruction of Judah (v 1-18)

Zephaniah: Chapter 1 Commentary
(1:1) Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (640-609 BC) Josiah followed God, and during his reign the book of the Law was discovered in the Temple. After reading it. Josiah began a great revival in Judah (2 Kings 22) Zephaniah helped the revival by warning the people that judgement would come if they did not turn from their sins. Although this great revival turned the nation back to God it did not fully eliminate idolatry and lasted only a short time. Twelve years later Judah was conquered by Babylon and the first wave of Israelite captives went into exile.

(1:2) The people of Judah were clearly warned by the highest authority of all, the Lord. They refused to listen to God because then they doubted God's prophet and did not believe the message of God, or because they doubted God himself and did not believe he would do what he said. If we refuse to listen to God's Word, the Bible, then we are shortsighted as the people of Judah and we will suffer the consequences of our actions.

(1:4) When the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land, God had commanded that they completely rid the island of its heathen inhabitants who worshiped idols, but the Isrealites refused to do so, and gradually they began to worship the Canaanites' gods. Although the Canaanites believed in many gods they represented many aspects of life. The chief god was Baal, symbolizing strength and fertility. God was extremely angry when his people turned from him to Baal. Chemarim was a title of honor used by the Syrians and Canaanites for their priests.

(1:5) History is littered with idols and their worship . An Idol is more than just a stone statue. An idol can be anything reverenced more than God. So idol worship is prevalent even today as people trust in themselves, money, or power and not in God. But ultimately all idols will prove worthless, and the true God will prevail. Seek the Lord first (Matthew 6) and put no other gods before him (Exodus 20)

(1:6) The people had become polytheistic, worshiping the Lord and all the other gods of the land, They added the "best" of pagan worship to the true faith of God. But God commands that he alone be worshipped (Exodus 20) thus the people committed a horrible sin. One of these other gods was Molech (Malchem) the national god of the Ammonites. Molech worship included child sacrifices, an abominable sin. From the time of Moses, the Israelites had been warned about worshiping the false god (Leviticus 18) but they refused to take heed. Because of their sins, God would "stretch out" his hand and destroy them.

(1:7) A day of judgement and a great slaughter occurred during the lifetime of these people when Babylon invaded the land. The prophet saw these prophecies as future events, but he could not see when or in what order these events would take place. Many think these prophecies have a double fulfillment - one for the near future (soon after the prophecy was made) and another for the distant future (Possible during the end times) Some scholars understand these prophecies of judgment to refer to events entirely in the future. 

(1:8-9) Wearing heathen clothing (Strange apparel) showed a desire for foreign gods and foreign ways. Leaders should have been good examples to the people who were adopting foreign practices and showed their contempt for the Lord by ignoring his commands against adopting pagan culture. To "leap on the threshold" was a pagan observance (1 Samuel 5) 

(1:12) God would search the city with lanterns ("candles") and punish the people. Because they did not search their own hearts, and because they were content with their sins and indifferent to God. God would use them. Within 20 years the Bablloniands would enter Jerusalem, drag people out of hiding, and take them captive or kill them . No one would escape God's judgement, there would be no place to hide.

(1:14) Some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather, nice to have around, but not a real force in shaping modern life. They don't believe in the power of his coming judgement. But God is Holy, and therefore He will actively judge and justly punish everyone who is content to live in sin, indifferent to God, they tend to think He is indifferent to them and their sin. They will be surprised to find that "the Great Day of the Lord is Near" the Bablyons would soon come to destroy Jerusalem. This same Day of the Lord is also near to us. God promises a final judgement, a day of world wide destruction (Revelation 20) The Babylonian conquest occurred just as surely and horribly as Sephaniah predicted. And God's final day of judgement is also sure - but so is his ability to save. To be spared from judgement, that you cannot save yourself, and that God alone can save you.

(1:18) Money is not evil in itself, But it is useless to save us. In this life, money can warp our perspective giving us feelings of security and power. Just as the Isrealites' wealth could not save them from the Babylonian invasion, so at the final judgement our riches will be worthless. Only Christ's redemptive work on Our Behalf Matters for Eternity. He alone will ransom us if we believe and place our trust in Him. Don't trust in money, trust Christ.



Dave Burnette's Life Application


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we start the book of Zephaniah with Chapter 1. In our text today we see Zephaniah warned the people that judgment would come as Judah worshiped idols. In making application we see that our world still worships idols. Today idols are more sophisticated from money, possessions, work, fame, celebrity, etc... any thing that comes between you and the Lord is an idol. How about you? Have you allowed Idols to come into your life? Let us learn from our text today and the warning of Zephaniah to see that we still have idols in the world and if we allow these idols to come in our lives we will see the judgement that came to Judah will come to us.


Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1

 1The word of the LORD which came unto 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.

 2I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.

 3I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.

 4I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

 5And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

 6And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.

 7Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

 8And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

 9In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

 10And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

 11Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

 12And it shall come to pass 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.

 13Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

 14The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

 15That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

 16A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

 17And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

 18Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.