Friday, March 11, 2016

The Coming Destruction of Judah’s Enemies

Zephaniah 2:1-15

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)

Judah was a nation the other nations hated.   God’s judgment was looming but it had not yet fallen.  Zephaniah recommended that they act on the warnings before the prophecies came to pass.  If they would turn their attention from themselves to God, and obey him, they might yet escape the Judgment because God is a forgiving God. 

“For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.  Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. ” (Zephaniah 2:4-5)

The Philistines had occupied the along the Mediterranean coast and never been driven out of Israel.  God warns that he will destroy them so completely there will be none of them left in the land.  The Palestinians of today are not living in the traditional Philistine lands. 

“And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.  And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity. ” (Zephaniah 2:6-7)

God will give the traditional lands of the Philistines to the descendants of Judah, because God will one day return Judah to their land. 

“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)

The Moabites and Ammonites were descendants of Lot.  For centuries they had attempted to destroy Israel and Judah.  God said they would be as completely destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah had been.  Ultimately all mankind, even those from the far flung islands will realize there is no god but God himself. 

Though the name of Ammon is perpetuated by the Capital of Jordan, Amman, the Ammonites and Moabites were defeated by the Babylonians and their land was eventually claimed  by the Nabateans, the people who built the city of Petra.    

“Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.  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 2:12-15)

Ethiopia had been a world power and attacked Judah in Hezekiah’s day, with over a million men.  They would later be ruled by the Persian and Greek Empires.  The Assyrian Empire would be destroyed and the city of Nineveh turned into an uninhabited wilderness where wild animals lived in the ruins and people herded sheep.  The beams and wood work would rot away.  The Babylonians destroyed Nineveh, and it faded into obscurity.  At the time of Zephaniah’s prophecy, Nineveh was still one of the largest and most powerful cities in the world.  They were confident nothing could ever destroy their power, and no longer paid any attention to God or his prophets. 

If Judah would repent and turn to God, they might escape that judgment.  

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