The Necessity of Divine Judgment Against Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3)

Scripture reading – Zephaniah 3, Jeremiah 1

Today’s Scripture reading concludes our study of the prophecies of Zephaniah, and introduces the major prophet, Jeremiah. Zephaniah and Jeremiah served as God’s prophets to Judah, and were contemporaries of Josiah, the last good king of Judah. The public ministry of Jeremiah, perhaps the younger of the two prophets, began in the 13thyear of Josiah’s reign and encompassed the reigns of Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah under whose reign Jerusalem was destroyed (Jeremiah 1:2-3). This is the first of two devotionals for today.

Zephaniah 3

Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah, became Zephaniah’s focus in chapter 3.  The citizens of that city had been privileged to have the Temple in their midst, with the priests and prophets ministering among them.  Yet, in spite of their ability to repent and return to the Lord, “[they] obeyed not the voice; [they] received not correction; [they]trusted not in the Lord; [and] drew not near to [their] God” (3.2).

The Sins that Demanded God’s Judgment (3:1-7)

Jerusalem had become “filthy and polluted,” and was a violent city (3:1). The nation’s civil leaders (princes and judges) were like “roaring lions [and] wolves” that gnaw the bones of the poor and helpless (3:3). The spiritual leaders, the prophets and priests, were no better. The prophets were disobedient and deceitful, and the priests had profaned the Temple with their wickedness (3:4). Zephaniah warned the people, the LORD “brings His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame” (3:5).

What an appalling statement—”the unjust knoweth no shame” (3:5)! Innocence was lost. Moral purity was disdained. The civil and religious leaders of Judah felt no shame, no sense of humiliation, for their wicked deeds! The people had witnessed God’s judgment fall upon other nations, including Israel whose people had been taken away captive, but Judah would not repent of her sins (3:6-7).

Universal Judgment (3:8-9)

While we live some 2,700 years since Zephaniah’s prophecy, his observation that men and nations are moving toward God’s judgment has not failed (3:8). The day is coming when the LORD will “gather the nations” of the world that He might judge them (3:8). In that day, He will also gather them who call upon and serve Him, and make them as one (3:9).

Closing thought – In that day, the day of the LORD, sin, shame, and pride will be removed (3:11-14), and God’s people will rejoice for the LORD is King (3:14-17). The LORD will restore His people to Himself and will dwell in their midst (3:18-20).

What a glorious day that will be!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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