Zephaniah 3

1 Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, the oppressing city! 2 She didn’t obey the voice. She didn’t receive correction. She didn’t trust in the LORD. She didn’t draw near to her God. 3 Her princes within her are roaring lions. Her judges are evening wolves. They leave nothing until the next day. 4 Her prophets are arrogant and treacherous people. Her priests have profaned the sanctuary. They have done violence to the law. 5 The LORD, within her, is righteous. He will do no wrong. Every morning he brings his justice to light. He doesn’t fail, but the unjust know no shame. 6 I have cut off nations. Their battlements are desolate. I have made their streets waste, so that no one passes by. Their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, so that there is no inhabitant. 7 I said, “Just fear me. Receive correction, so that her dwelling won’t be cut off, according to all that I have appointed concerning her.” But they rose early and corrupted all their doings. 8 “Therefore wait for 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. 9 For then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that they may all call on the LORD’s name, to serve him shoulder to shoulder. 10 From beyond the rivers of Cush, my worshipers, even the daughter of my dispersed people, will bring my offering. 11 In that day you will not be disappointed for all your doings, in which you have transgressed against me; for then I will take away out from amongst you your proudly exulting ones, and you will no more be haughty in my holy mountain. 12 But I will leave amongst you an afflicted and poor people, and they will take refuge in the LORD’s name. 13 The remnant of Israel will not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they will feed and lie down, and no one will make them afraid.” 14 Sing, daughter of Zion! Shout, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The LORD has taken away your judgements. He has thrown out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is amongst you. You will not be afraid of evil any more. 16 In that day, it will be said to Jerusalem, “Don’t be afraid, Zion. Don’t let your hands be weak.” 17 The LORD, your God, is amongst you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing. 18 I will remove those who grieve about the appointed feasts from you. They are a burden and a reproach to you. 19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all those who afflict you, and I will save those who are lame, and gather those who were driven away. I will give them praise and honor, whose shame has been in all the earth. 20 At that time will I bring you in, and at that time will I gather you; for I will give you honor and praise amongst all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

The holy God hates sin most in those nearest to him. A sinful state is, and will be, a woful state. Yet they had the tokens of God’s presence, and all the advantages of knowing his will, with the strongest reasons to do it; still they persisted in disobedience. Alas, that men often are more active in doing wickedness than believers are in doing good.

Verses 8–13

The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.

Verses 14–20

After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God’s Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God’s love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.

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