Zephaniah Chapter Two


Read Zephaniah 2:1-3 – A Call for Judah to Repent


v.1Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;” (ASV THAT HATH NO SHAME).


            Just as Joel had warned Judah years before:


Joel 1:14Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,


This is what Jehoshaphat had done many years before that:


II Chronicles 20:4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”


Judah is urged to gather herself together once again and come before the Lord in repentance for their sins.  But will they?  Zephaniah calls them a nation “THAT HATH NO SHAME (ASV).  The words of Jeremiah, contemporary with Zephaniah are even stronger:


Jeremiah 6:15Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.”


v.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.”


            Now he tells them why.  The day is coming; the chronological charts tell us that it will be within 25 years of the time of this writing that God will bring punishment upon Judah.  During the reign of King Manasseh, just prior to the time of Zephaniah; God had described the punishment that he would bring:


II Kings 23:27And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”


Most of Israel has already been removed.  Assyria has completely destroyed the northern kingdom and brought in other people from other parts of the world to Samaria.  Judah is warned to act before the anger of God is brought upon them as well, before God unleashes his fury against them and their sin.  The prophet Nahum warned Nineveh this way:


Nahum 1:6  Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.”


v.3Seek 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.


            The remedy to escape the wrath and fury of God is the same today as it was in the days of this prophet, “SEEK YE THE LORD”, “SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS”, SEEK MEEKNESS”.   How should they do that, how should we do that today?  First the words of Amos to Israel:


Amos 5:14-15Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. 15Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.”


Seek good, not evil; hate evil and love the good, establish judgment, righteous judgment then you will be prepared to do what the Psalmist encourages:




And, of course, as we have studied and presented in sermon form here, calling “UPON HIS NAME” involves much more than our denominational neighbors and apostate brethren teach.


Read Zephaniah 2:4-15 – Prophecies Against Judah’s Enemies


v.4For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.”


            Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gaza in the time of this prophet are exactly the same places that the present state of Israel and the Hamas Palestinians are fighting over today.  Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron were cities of the Philistines.  God used them periodically to punish Israel but ultimately destroyed them as well because of their idolatry and sin.  Today this area is inhabited primarily by refuges who depend upon everything needed to sustain life being brought in from the outside, otherwise it would continue to be a desolated, deserted place just like it was when Philip was sent to teach the Ethiopian nobleman.


Acts 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.”


Ashkelon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C., probably within 20 years of the time when Zephaniah wrote these words.


v.5  5Woe 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.”


            When devastation came upon Judah some of its people would simply flee to the regions around them to escape God’s wrath.  What the prophet is telling them is that this tactic will not take them away from God’s punishment.  Here he speaks of the “INHABITANTS OF THE SEA COAST”, the coastal plain between Judah and the Mediterrean Sea.  Who were the Cherethites; this is a name that was new to me in my Old Testament study?  Secular studies tell us that they were Philistine tribesmen that were originally from the island of Crete that lived in this region.  They had a special relationship with Israel and we find them as mercenaries in David’s personal bodyguard:


II Samuel 15:18And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.”


v.6-7And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. 7And 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 their captivity.”


            The prophet tells that the houses of the city of Ashkelon will be used as resting places by Judean shepherds.  Judah is going to be carried away into captivity, so how can this come to pass?  Very simply, he’s talking about after they are restored to Judea again.  We find another prophecy of this in:


Jeremiah 29:14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”


Jerusalem and Judah were in the mountains between the Mediterrean and the Jordan.  The Shephelah was the land in the foothills west of this mountain ridge and sloped down to the plain and the sea coast.  While it was called desert, or a deserted place, it was used by wandering shepherds for the bit of forage that it would provide for their flocks.


v.88I 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.”


            From our study of Genesis, who were Moab and Ammon?


Genesis 19:36-38Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. 37And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 38And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.”


            These people were a thorn and a threat to Israel and Judah from the very beginning of their existence until this time.  We find Moab threatening Israel in the account of Balak, king of Moab and Balaam, the prophet of God in Numbers 22 through 24.  God is using this prophet to warn them that they too will be punished for their iniquity and idolatry.


v.9Therefore 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.”


            Moab and Ammon will face the same level of destruction and desolation that God brought upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  We remember from our study of Genesis:


Genesis 19:24-25Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”


The condition of this region is very accurately described by Zephaniah as being a breeding ground of nettles, a place of saltpits and complete desolation.  Today it is much the same.  The Dead Sea is listed as “one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, with 33.7 percent salinity.” (Wikipedia)  It remains even today a source of salt and pitch and not much else except certain chemical elements and a few minerals that are found there.


v.10This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts.”


            When Moab and Ammon were used by God to bring punishment on Israel for their sins, as would be expected of men, they gave themselves credit and spoke with pride about their accomplishments.  Isaiah writes about them:


Isaiah 16:6We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.”


God through his prophet calls their brag lies; He has heard their claims and will bring them an appropriate recompense for their sin.


v.11The 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.


            Here we are given a glimpse of the coming of the kingdom of Christ, the Gospel Age.  All of the idol gods of the earth will be banished, done away and most were.  Men from all nations, even the “ISLES OF THE HEATHEN” would turn and worship the God of heaven.  Malachi writes:


Malachi 1:11For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”


v.12Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.”


            Jeremiah also prophesies concerning the destruction of these people, many of whom served as mercenaries for Egypt and others in times of war:


Jeremiah 46:9-10Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow. 10For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.”


v.13-14And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. 14And 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.”


            Now the prophet turns to Assyria and the cities of the upper Euphrates.  In our study of the prophet Nahum we will see in detail God’s charges against and punishment of Nineveh and Assyria.  Isaiah speaks about God’s punishment of Assyria:


Isaiah 10:12Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.”


The prophet Nahum describes what the people of Nineveh would endure this way:


Nahum 2:10She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.”


            In much the same way as the destruction and desolation of Philistia was described in earlier verses Zephaniah describes the desolation of Nineveh as being such that the city would become a resting place for shepherds with their flocks.  In Wikipedia it is described as a place of ruins being over built by the suburbs of the Iraqi city of Mosul.  That record also says that the city was “razed to the ground”; the people were “either massacred or deported” and that the archaeological site is littered with unburied skeletons.


v.15This 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.”


            Zephaniah writes that the city “DWELT CARELESSLY”, Isaiah writes that Babylon; who was yet to come into power:


Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:” Isaiah 47:8


And Nineveh suffered from much the same attitudes.  She was given over to pleasure, she said; “I AM”, I’ve arrived, I’m the greatest city of the greatest nation on earth, there is none better and I will not suffer the ravages of war; my women become widows and my children sacrificed on the field of battle.  But they would, they would be destroyed completely.  The prophet Nahum asks as the final words of his prophecy:


Nahum 3:19There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?”


William L. Schwegler; Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; March 15, 2009