When God Sweeps Away the Earth

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 3

imagesZephaniah begins prophesying 40-50 years prior to the Babylonian captivity. He speaks of a coming day (“the day of the LORD” is mentioned at least twelve times in the book of Zephaniah)—a day when God will set up housekeeping and sweep the earth. Men and animals, birds of the air and fish of the sea will be swept away. Sin will have so infiltrated every area of creation that God will, once again, destroy every living thing upon the earth.

Zephaniah teaches a number of crucial truths about God and the day of judgment:
God punishes those whom He uses to discipline His people.

  • Moab and Ammon will not go unpunished for insulting the people of God; they will be “overrun with weeds and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation” (Zeph. 2:9).
  • Even though God used the Ethiopians and Assyrians to discipline His people, He will destroy them. To the Ethiopians He says, “You shall be slain by My sword” (2:12). And of Assyria, He says, “He will stretch out HIs hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as a wilderness” (2:13).

God punishes those who misrepresent Him to His people.

  • Every stratum of Judah’s leadership mistreats the people and disrespects the Lord:
  • Her princes create a place of fear instead of a place of safety for those they serve (3:3)
  • Her judges hunt to destroy those whom they should protect and administer justice (3:3).
  • Her prophets tell lies that deceive and betray those whom they are to warn and protect (3:4)
  • Her priests defile the sanctuary and violate Scripture instead of obeying Scripture and treating God’s temple as holy (3:4).

God keeps the promises that He makes.

  • God speaks of a future day when He will remove His judgment from His people and will be King in their midst.
  • “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, they they all may call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord” (3:9).
  • “I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies. Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid” (3:12-14).
  • “The LORD has taken away your judgements, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more” (3:15).

God promises that His people will once again dwell in their own land.
“At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes” (3:20).

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Zeph. 2:8-3:20; 2 Chron. 35:20-27; 2 Kings 23:29-30; Jer. 47-48):
When Josiah disregards Necho’s warning and pursues war with Egypt, what does this reveal about him?
What characterizes the nation of Moab and precipitates God’s judgment? What does this reveal about God’s judgment upon the nations?