“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. … And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
– Genesis 11: 1 and 6-9
“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.”
– Zephaniah 3:9
Zephaniah doesn’t get no respect!
It’s only three chapters long.
Can it be of any value?
Some people make that assumption. But they are wrong – dead wrong!
The only reason the last 12 books of the Tanach, or Old Testament, are attributed to “minor” prophets is because of the length of their works. They are short, but they are not “minor.” In fact, they all contribute mightily to our understanding of God’s ways and, especially, our understanding of the future of our planet and its people.
And this book does just that – packing a punch for contributing to one of the great mysteries of the end times.
Remember the Tower of Babel? Yes, the people of the world once spoke one language. And the people did not walk in the ways of God. So the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit decided to confuse their language at Babel.
Zephaniah explains in one sentence how God will offer a “pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.” This will be part of “the restitution of all things.”
But before we get there, and right after his introduction of himself, Zephaniah drops the spiritual equivalent of a 1.2 megaton thermonuclear bomb in the form of a word form the Lord: “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 stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord.” (Zephaniah 1:2-4)
This is obviously not good news. It’s what we should expect when God has had enough of man’s way of doing things.
Judah is about to be judged. What were they doing? The people of Judah and even God’s beloved city of Jerusalem were worshiping the Canaanite and Phoenician false deity of Baal. Their priests were prostrating themselves before idols. Others were worshiping the sun, moon and stars. Some were dedicated to Molech, a pagan god to whom some Israelites even sacrifices their children.
God wasn’t giving up on the people of Judah. But He was about to sentence them to exile in Babylon for 70 years. Israel had already been scattered throughout the nations.
So, Zephaniah 2 opens: “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, al 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.”
This is an altar call. It is a plea for repentance. This is an example of God’s long-suffering character. It’s not too late, the Lord is saying through Zephaniah, to return to humility and righteousness like the prodigal son.
God gives warnings! Heed them. They are not grievous. They are the key to life-everlasting! Is that too much to ask? Well, actually, He’s not asking!
The world is once again shunning His commandments – his laws.
If we accept them, gratefully and with repentance, He promises even a single pure language for calling on His name. I think that language is Hebrew. Can you imagine waking up and speaking fluent Hebrew?!
The hour is late. Now is the time.
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