Judgment and Blessings


The  prophet Zephania wrote as if he were living  today  and answering many of my questions. His little book of three  chapters relates  to  people who got caught in the Satan's web of lies. It amazes me how appropriate and relevant to today the Bible is.

The prophet Zephaniah was of noble birth and helped  prepare Judah  for the revival that took place under King Josiah  in  621 B.C. For more than half a century times had been evil under kings Manasseh and Amon, and Zephaniah called his people to repentance.
Reform  came,  but,  after Josiah, the leaders and  many  of  the people  reverted to their old ways. Immediate judgment  came  but the  ultimate fulfillment will yet occur in the Day of the  Lord, during  the coming Tribulation years. Keep that in mind. Zephaniah predicted the doom of heathen nations and closes with a glorious description  of  the future Millennium.

(1)" The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah... (2) I will utterly consume all [things] from off the land, saith the LORD. 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. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and  upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnantof Baal from this place, [and] the name of the Chemarims with the priests; 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; And them that are turned back from  the LORD; and [those] that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.

"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 {Jesus Christ}, he hath bid his guests. And  it shall come to pass in the day of the  LORD'S  sacrifice,  that I will punish the princes, and the  king's  children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also  will I punish all those that leap on the  threshold  {which was  forbidden},    which fill  their masters'  houses with violence and deceit. And it shall come  to pass in that day, saith the LORD, [that there shall be] the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second,  and a  great crashing from the hills.

"Howl, ye inhabitants  of  Maktesh,  for  all the merchant people are cut down; all  they that bear silver are cut off. And it shall come to pass at that  time, [that]  I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the  men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their  goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they  shall also  build houses, but not inhabit [them]; and they shall  plant vineyards,  but not drink the wine thereof.

"The great day of  the LORD  [is]  near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly,  [even]  the
voice  of  the day of the LORD: the mighty man  shall  cry  there bitterly.  That  day [is] a day of wrath, a day  of  trouble  and distress,  a day of wasteness and desolation, a day  of  darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the
trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like  blind men, because they have sinned against the  LORD:  and their  blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as  the dung.

"Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land  shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. (Zephania 1:1-18)

Baalworship refers to Baal, a Hebrew word for lord referring to numerous local gods. Hosea 2:13 interprets this worship:  "And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned  incense  to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and  her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith  the LORD." Them  that worship the "host of heaven", refers to  Astrologers common among the idolaters of Judah as explained in Jeremiah 19:13  "..because  of all the houses upon whose roofs  they  have
burned  incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured  out drink  offerings  unto other gods.

Molech, an Ammonite  god worshipped with human sacrifice, see Jeremiah 32:35 "And they built the high places of Baal, which [are] in the valley of the son  of
Hinnom,  to cause their sons and their daughters to pass  through [the fire] unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither  came it  into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to  cause Judah  to sin."

Solomon built a sanctuary for  Molech,  [Ammonite god] see (1Kings 11:7) "Then did Solomon build an high place  for Chemosh,  the abomination of Moab, in the hill that  [is] before Jerusalem,  and  for Molech, the abomination of the  children  of Ammon." [Solomon also built God's Temple], Solomon  was  serving more than one God. Israel's was a syncretistic worship, for  they swore  by the Lord and Molech.

All  cults and much of today to this day could be  considered: not  searching  for  the Lord nor inquire of  Him  and  many  are clothed  with  strange apparel, in examples Mormons,  Masons, Catholics etc. Foreign or strange apparel is a sign of apostasy for Jew's clothing with its blue ribbon , which noone else wears, had spiritual significance, see  a description in Numbers 15:38-39,  "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them  that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments  throughout  their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of  the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that  ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments  of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own  heart
and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring."

The  day of the Lord as Joel's prophecy was this same  major theme.  It involves God's special intervention in the affairs  of Israel and the heathen {Gentile} nations which includes the  time of  the  Great Tribulation, the second coming of Christ  and  the
Millennium. The  soon-coming  captivity,  in which Judah  would  be  the sacrifice and the nations guests in Babylon, was but a preview of what's to come. See the reason in Matthew 6:24 "No man 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."

An Exhortation to Repent

"Gather  yourselves together, yea, gather together, O  nation not desired; 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. 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. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)

Judgments on Gentile Nations

"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. 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. This shall they have for  their pride,  because they have reproached and  magnified  [themselves]
against  the  people  of the LORD of hosts. 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. (Zephaniah 2:8-11)

There was a judgment in each direction:  west,  east, south  and north. "And he will stretch out his hand  against  the north,  and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, [and]  dry  like a wilderness. 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. 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. (Zephaniah 2:13-15)

Judgment on Jerusalem,

"Woe  to her that is filthy and polluted, to the  oppressing city! How defiled was Jerusalem: Jeremiah 5:1: "Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in  the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if  there  be
[any] that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon  it." Jeremiah 19:5 "They have built also the high  places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire [for] burnt offerings  unto Baal,  which I commanded not, nor spake [it], neither  came  [it] into  my mind." Jeremiah 23:13-14, "And I have seen folly in  the prophets  of  Samaria;  they prophesied in Baal,  and  caused  my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem  an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk  in  lies: they strengthen  also  the hands of evildoers,  that  none  doth return  from  his  wickedness: they are all of them  unto  me  as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah."

"She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction;  she trusted  not  in  the LORD; she drew not near  to  her  God.  Her princes within her [are] roaring lions; her judges [are]  evening wolves;  they  gnaw not the bones till the morrow.  Her  prophets [are] light [and] treacherous persons: her priests have  polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The just  LORD [is] in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth  he  bring his judgment to light, he faileth  not;  but  the unjust knoweth no shame. I have cut off the nations: their towers are  desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth  by: their  cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that  there
is  none inhabitant. I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou  wilt receive  instruction;  so their dwelling should not be  cut  off, howsoever  I punished them: but they rose early, [and]  corrupted all their doings. (Zephaniah 3:1-7)

Judgment on the Nations,

"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." (Zephaniah 3:8) This verse will be fulfilled in the Tribulation period, climaxing at Armageddon, see Revelation 16:14 "For they are the spirits  of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of  the earth  and  of the whole world, to gather them to the  battle  of that great day of God Almighty." The judgment on the nations will be after that, see Joel 3:2, "I will also gather all nations, and
will  bring  them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat,  and  will plead with them there for my people and [for] my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land."

Matthew  25:31-32, "When the Son of man shall come in his  glory, and  all  the holy angels with him, then shall he  sit  upon  the throne  of  his glory: And before him shall be gathered  all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd
divideth  [his] sheep from the goats. Goats are heathens. Sheep  are those  written  in  the Lamb's Book [believers]. Note  He  is  also called  a  "Lamb" (a young sheep) and refers to those of  us  who were  made  acceptable before God through Christ's  death as is expressed  in such doctrines as redemption { Romans 3:24,  "Being justified  freely by his grace through the redemption that is  in Christ  Jesus"},

"reconciliation {2Corinthians. 5:19-21,  To  wit, that  God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,  not imputing  their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto  us the  word  of  reconciliation. Now then we  are  ambassadors  for Christ,  as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you]  in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.},

"forgiveness {Romans 3:25, Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood,  to declare  his  righteousness for the remission of sins  that  are past,  through the forbearance of God}, deliverance {Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and  hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son},

"acceptance  in the  Beloved  {Ephesians 1:6, To the praise of the glory  of  his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved},  assured future glorification {Romans 8:30, Moreover whom he did predestinate,  them  he  also called: and whom he called,  them  he  also justified:  and whom he justified, them he also  glorified},  and justification  {Romans 3:24, Being justified freely by his  grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus}.

To  justify is to declare righteous. It is a  judicial term indicating  that a verdict of acquittal has been  announced,  excluding  all possibility of condemnation. Indeed,  in Scripture, justification  is invariably set over against condemnation.  The claims of God's law against the sinner have been fully satisfied. Justification  is not because of any overlooking, suspending,  or altering of God's righteous demands, but because in Christ all of His demands have been fulfilled.

Christ's perfect life of  obedience  to the law and His atoning death that paid its penalty  are the bases  for our justification. Justification could  never  be based  on  our good works, for God  requires  perfect  obedience, which is impossible for man.The  means  of justification is faith. Faith  is  never  the ground of justification; it is the means or channel through which God's  grace can impute to the believing sinner righteousness  of Christ.

When  we believe, all that Christ is, God  puts  to  our account;  thus we stand acquitted. Then God can  justly  announce that acquittal, and that pronouncement is justification.




The Future Blessing for Gentiles

"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.From  beyond the rivers of Ethiopia  my suppliants, [even] the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine  offering." (Zephaniah 3:9-10)

Future Blessings for Jews,

"In  that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy  doings, wherein  thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will  take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

"I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they  shall trust in the name of the LORD. 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. Sing, O  daughter  of  Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughterof Jerusalem.

"The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast  out thine enemy: the king of Israel, [even] the LORD,  [is]in  the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

"In  that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear  thou  not: [and to] Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God  in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee  with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy  over  thee with  singing.  I will gather [them that are] sorrowful  for  the solemn assembly, [who] are of thee, [to whom] the reproach of  it [was] a burden.

"Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee:  and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that  was driven  out;  and I will get them praise and fame in  every  land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring  you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make  you a  name and a praise among all people of the earth, when  I  turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.  (Zephaniah 3:11-20)

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