Zephaniah 1:1 ¶ The 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. 2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. 3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD. 4 I 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; 5 And 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; 6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him. 7 ¶ Hold 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.
The name Zephaniah means “hidden,” or, “protected of Jehovah.” His name and that which is listed in verse one of his prophesy is about all we know of him. Some theologians state that the “Hizkiah” listed as his great-great-grandfather is actually King Hezekiah. For they state that the term “king of Judah” in verse one is to apply to both Josiah’s and “Hizkiah’s” names.
Never-the-less we know that he was a true prophet of the Lord God. And we know that “Zephaniah’s Word” was “the word of the LORD which came unto him.” And we know this not only because that is stated in his writing, but also because it presents the Lord God afresh as He has been presented throughout the sacred writings.
Take note of verse three in our context. It is exactly that which Moses wrote of God’s words in Noah’s days in his determination then to also “utterly consume all things from off the land.” Consider these verses: Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Zephaniah’s Word is the same word from the same LORD, concerning the same circumstances, determined to do the same thing in bringing former judgment. Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. God is immutable, or changeless. For there is no need to change perfection. Change cannot make Him better. He is already perfect. And he will therefore always respond to man’s iniquities in exactly the same manner! Therefore God’s word in Zephaniah 1:3 sounds exactly like God’s word in Genesis 6:7.
And what is the final purpose that the LORD states for his fiery and complete judgment? It is for the purpose of gathering to himself a pure and holy people, purging the covetousness from among them! Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith 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 upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. 9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. 12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
For the true church to be pure, she must be purged of the hypocrites and all their hypocrisy. Psalm 144:11 Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: 12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: 13 That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: 14 That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. 15 Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
And very few in organized religion realize that no believer belongs to himself. There lives have been bought, so they are to live under the strict authority of the one who purchased them. Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Therefore to live without God-consciousness is of great offense to the Lord God. For those things which the population in Noah’s day are charged with are not, in themselves, unlawful! Eating and drinking and getting married are not unlawful things. But they were unlawfully used! Animals eat and drink and mate for breeding! Whereas mankind was made to reflect the person and character of Almighty God. Yet these had no mind for God! They only had their hearts and minds absorbed with satisfying their own selfish desires.
The Lord warns of this possibility early on in Israel’s history. Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
All the armies on earth could not bring down Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian kingdom! But Nebuchadnezzar brought it down with the pride of his heart! Daniel 4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. 30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. 32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. 34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
The Apostle Paul stated that being able to control one’s spirituality during days of prosperity was just as much a discipline as in days of poverty. Philippines 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
And our Lord instructed us that our lives are not to be identified by our possessions! Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
The rich man went to Hell the very night he decided to hoard up his goods instead of sharing them with the needy. He didn’t get to eat another bite of the goods in which he falsely identified himself. For it wasn’t ‘his soul,’ as he falsely claimed, no more than they were ‘his goods!’ Luke 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
One strong and undeniable evidence that God does not reside within a soul is the love of the world and it’s goods, no matter how devotedly one practices religion! 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
For the rich young ruler was very religious, but failed regarding his possessions! Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
We know that selling all he had would not have provided him eternal life. For God’s salvation is not of works! But that was the issue which revealed his heart. And if he had been made willing to depart from that which he held most dear, it would have revealed a work of grace within his soul! Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The Apostle Peter writes of “these things” which provide evidence of the Holy Spirit’s working within ones heart. For ‘these things’ cannot be produced by the human spirit, no matter how religious! 2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Let us all be very careful to watch and pray as our Lord commanded. For “Zephaniah’s Word” is still very applicable to us today. We know the Lord to be the same in our day as he was in this prophets. Therefore that which angered him then, still angers him now. And he has informed us that the days of his return will be like Noah’s day. And Noah’s day was like Zephaniah’s day! And as we know not what hour he may return, a consciousness of that return is of great benefit to the soul! 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Pastor Gene Breed
March 11, 2021