Zephaniah 2 - Outline of Zephaniah (Menu Page)
1. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
2 Before the decree bring forth, [before] the day pass as the chaff,
before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you,
before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you.
3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment;
seek righteousness, seek meekness:
it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
gather yourselves...
Here is a final call to Israel, before the judgment which the LORD had decreed against them would be unleashed. They are urged to gather as a nation in urgent prayers of repentance (Joel 1:13,14; 2:12-17).
O nation not desired {lit., 'that hath no shame'}...
The LORD loved them and desired to have them as His own holy people. But they were living shamelessly in sin, and had no desire to turn back to Him. Having seared their consciences, they were insensitive to the agony of God's heart for them, or to the depth of their own corruption.
before the decree bring forth... before the day pass as the chaff...
The LORD was temporarily withholding His wrath, as He waited to hear their prayer. But the day of opportunity for repentance would soon pass... blown away like chaff, which, once gone, cannot be regathered.
seek ye the LORD, all ye meek which have wrought His judgment...
The believing Remnant differed greatly from their unbelieving countrymen, in action and attitude. King Josiah had instituted reforms in compliance with God's ordinances (eg. 2Kin 23:1-15). The remnant, rejoicing to see these reforms, would have worked with the king to restore the nation to the order prescribed by God. But when Josiah's descendants came to the throne, the society returned to calling evil good, and good evil (Isa 5:20). It would not be easy for the godly to stand against the tide of arrogant rebellion. But they were to seek the righteousness which the LORD desired. They were to live in 'meekness' {humble submission} to Him.
it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.
Those who take refuge in the LORD are hidden, in the cleft of the Rock, under the shadow of His wings, from the fierceness of His wrath. Even so, they may feel the wind that tears the rocks. They, like chicks huddled under their mother's wings, may sense the heat of the flames that scorch the hen. But hidden in Him, they are safe from the trouble passing over them, and they will live to see a better day. Isa 26:20
 
A prophecy of Judgment, upon the surrounding nations, occupies the remainder of this chapter.
It is both a warning to unbelieving Jerusalem of their own judgment, and a comfort to the Remnant that the LORD will destroy their enemies.
4. For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation:
they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.
5 Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites!
the word of the LORD [is] against you;
O Canaan, the land of the Philistines,
I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.
6 And the sea coast shall be dwellings [and] cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.
7 And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon:
in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening:
for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away
{or, bring again} their captivity.
...Gaza... Ashkelon... Ashdod... Ekron...-
These are four of the five prominent Philistine cities. The fifth, Gath, is not mentioned, because, at the time of writing, it had already been taken, and assimilated into Judah (1Chr 18:1; 2Kin 18:1,8).
...the nation of the Cherethites {ie., Cretans}...-
The regions along the west coast of the land of Israel had been occupied by people who came from Crete. This was the land of the Philistines {meaning 'immigrants'). The LORD gave the whole land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants. But while Israel was in Egypt, these immigrants moved in, and claimed it as their own. Even today, the territorial conflict continues. It will be settled by the LORD.
I will destroy thee... and the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah...
The descendants of the Cherethites were destroyed or taken captive by Babylon, around the time of the fall of Jerusalem. Few, if any, descendants of the Cretans remain. The 'Palestinians' who claim the land today, are primarily of Arab descent.
     Since Israel's war of independence in 1948, only Gaza remains in Palestinian control. Ashdod is home to Israel's largest sea port. Ashkelon, also a port city of Israel, is only 8 miles north of the Gaza strip. Ekron and Gath are both in ruins, their locations have not been positively identified.
     Although we presently see a partial fulfillment of this prophecy, it is evident that the final fulfillment awaits the future Day of the LORD, when He will give Israel all of the territory which He promised to Abraham.
8. I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon,
whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified [themselves] against their border.
9 Therefore [as] I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,
Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah,
[even] the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation:
the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.
10 This shall they have for their pride,
because they have reproached and magnified [themselves] against the people of the LORD of hosts.
11 The LORD [will be] terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth;
and [men] shall worship him, every one from his place, [even] all the isles of the heathen.
...Moab... Ammon...
The modern country of Jordan fills the territory of Moab and Ammon.
These nations, which descended from Abraham's nephew, Lot, and his daughters, maintained a continual hatred against Israel. Rather than coming to the aid of their brothers, during their times of trouble, they had taken advantage of Israel's difficulties, to increase their own territory (Jer 48:25-30; Amos 1:13).
     The Babylonian invasion overflowed to these nations after the fall of Jerusalem. But there are elements of the prophecy which await the Day of the LORD...
...for He will famish the gods of the earth... men shall worship Him...-
In the Day of the LORD, the false gods will be 'famished' {ie., caused to 'grow lean'} because they will be deprived of worshippers, for all men will know that the LORD is God, and they will worship Him alone.
...the remnant of my people shall possess them...
In that Day, Israel will possess all of the land promised to Abraham, which also includes this region.
12. Ye Ethiopians also, ye [shall 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 shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations:
both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it;
[their] voice shall sing in the windows; desolation [shall be] in the thresholds:
for he shall 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 is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in!
every one that passeth by her shall hiss, [and] wag his hand.
...Ethiopians... Assyrians...
The LORD will judge the nations to Israel's west (v.4-7), east (v.8-11), south (v.12), and north (v.13-15).
Egypt is probably included in the reference to Ethiopians. At various times, Jerusalem had sought their help against the enemies to the north. But Egypt was not able to deliver them. Several years after the fall of Jerusalem (in 586 BC), Egypt was overrun by Babylon (as foretold by Jeremiah, in Jer 43:8-13).
     Assyria had taken the northern kingdom of Israel captive, roughly 100 years prior to Zephaniah's ministry. About 25 years before Zephaniah, the prophet, Nahum had foretold the destruction of Nineveh, Assyria's capital city (Nah 3:18,19).
     Nineveh was completely destroyed by Babylon, in 621 BC (while Josiah was still reigning in Jerusalem, and soon after Zephaniah uttered these words). The palaces of Nineveh lie in ruins today. Yet, the final judgments on these nations also await the Day of the LORD. The blasphemous pride of Nineveh (v.15), foreshadows that of 'the Assyrian' (the antichrist) who will be made desolate by the LORD, in that Day. (See Isa 10:24; 14:25; the Book Notes at Micah 5:5-6, and the Book Notes at Nahum 1:11-15.)

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