Zephaniah: The Principle of Prohibition against Double Judgment
1:1-18, 2:3 (Pastor Heo)
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:
Judgment on the Whole Earth in the Day of the LORD
2 “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. 3 “I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea— and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”“When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,” declares the LORD, 4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place, the very names of the idolatrous priests— 5 those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molek, 6 those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him.” 7 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. 8 “On the day of the LORD’s sacrifice I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all those clad in foreign clothes. 9 On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold,who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit. 10 “On that day,” declares the LORD, “a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills. 11 Wail, you who live in the market district ; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be destroyed. 12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ 13 Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. Though they build houses, they will not live in them; though they plant vineyards, they will not drink the wine.” 14 The great day of the LORD is near— near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the LORD is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. 15 That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness— 16 a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. 17 “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.
2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.
Zephaniah is one of the 12 minor prophets. “Minor” doesn’t mean “unimportant” just “short.” Zephaniah is short (3 chapters) but the message is very strong, serious, powerful, violent, and even relevant today.
In the Bible, there are 9 people who are named Zephaniah, but this person appears only ONCE – here in this book for his personal introduction. (1:1)
- It means “the LORD hides / has hidden.”
The first verse is very unusual in that Zephaniah traces his lineage back 4 generations to Hezekiah.
- Zephaniah -> Cushi -> Gedaliah -> Amariah during the reign of Josiah.
During this time, Hezekiah may have been king at this time (14th king) – one of the best kings of that time. IF Hezekiah is the great, great, grandfather of Zephaniah, it means that he is the ONLY prophet of royal descent.
Josiah = the king at this time, and the great grandson of Hezekiah.
- Hezekiah -> Manasseh -> Amon -> Josiah
- Zephaniah is great, great grandson of Hezekiah
- So, Josiah is the (far removed) uncle of Zephaniah. This may have given freer access to the royal court at that time.
Josiah was the 16th king of Judah (southern kingdom). He became king at age 8 and ruled 31 years (640 BC). He was the last good king in the history of his kingdom, and the greatest religious reformer in the WHOLE history of Israel (even compared to the northern kingdom).
Josiah had 3 focuses:
- Destroy false idol worship (Baal and others)
- Restore temple worship
- Observe the Law of God (Word of God)
Unfortunately, he was killed at 39 in a battle against the Egyptian king Neco at Megiddo.
- We are more familiar with the Battle of Carchemish (Egypt + Assyria vs. Babylonia (winner)).
- The northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyria. In the Carchemish battle, Egypt was on the way to the battle and Judah’s king Josiah didn’t want Assyria to recover, so he marched out to fight against Neco (Egyptian king). Neco sent a message to Josiah – “No, no, don’t let me kill you, go home. I’m not attacking you.”
- Josiah refused – even disguising himself to fight, and was killed in the battle.
- Unfortunately, his religious reforms were too little, too late, too short. He was the best king in Jerusalem, but his grandfather Manasseh (the WORST) reigned 55 years and his son Amon reigned 2 years. So, as soon as Josiah was killed, the people reverted to their old idol worship.
- After this 4 more kings appeared before the destruction of Jerusalem – they were all bad/evil.
This book, Zephaniah, begins with God’s declaration/proclamation of God that’s very terrible.
2 “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. 3 “I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea— and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”“When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,” declares the LORD,
This is 3 times repeated “I will sweep away…” and shows strongly the will of God. This story reminds us of the story of the flood of Noah.
5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
- Zephaniah “sweep away”
- Genesis “wipe away”
In this book, one of the keywords is “the Day of the Lord” – remember in the study of Joel, this was also one of the keywords. This phrase is repeated 7 times:
- 1:7 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited.
- 1:8 “On the day of the LORD’s sacrifice I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all those clad in foreign clothes.
- 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near— near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the LORD is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
- 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.
- 2:2 before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s wrath comes upon you.
- 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.
This phrase is repeated 7 times in this short book. Are you happy/unhappy for this day?
- The Day of the LORD means not only judgment and penalty, but also judgment and reward.
On the whole, this book is a fierce book of warning about the coming Day of the Lord – darkness, ruin, blackness, desolation – will strike Judah and all nations. But, Zephaniah sees beyond judgment to a time of joy – when the Lord will purify all nations and restore the fortunes of his people.
- This book begins with God’s proclamation – “I will sweep away… everything…”
- But it ends with this promise: 3:20 “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.
- This book begins with a declaration of destruction: “I will destroy all!”
- but ends with a promise of hope: “I will bring you home and give you honor.”
- It begins with judgment and penalty,
- but ends with blessing, hope, and reward, and true worship.
17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” 18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you. 19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.
In this book, Zephaniah moves 3 times from general to specific:
- From universal judgment to judgment upon Judah
- Judgment of surrounding nations to judgment on Jerusalem
- From cleansing of all nations to restoration of Israel
There are 2 parts:
- Chp 1 – 3:8 (This is the judgment on the Day of the Lord)
- Chp 3:9-20 (This is the restoration/salvation in the Day of the Lord)
So, we can know that the Day of the Lord can mean not only punishment but also salvation (ultimate, final salvation).
- The first part is the judgment on the Day of the Lord,
- the second part is salvation on the Day of the Lord.
After the broad statement for all nations, Zephaniah changes the tone of his book to blessing because this is an aspect of the Day of the Lord too.
The Remnant will be gathered together again and redeemed together.
1. TODAY is also the Day of the Lord
(thus, “The Lord’s Day”) – on Sunday morning, Jesus was originally resurrected from the dead. All the time, the Lord’s Day can be judgment for penalty or reward – hell or ultimate salvation.
From this story, here are some more practical lessons:
Title: “The principle of prohibition against double judgment” (Judgment / Jeopardy)
This term = a legal / law term. This principle is applied very exactly in the physical world and also the spiritual world.
In the earthly world and the biblical world (heaven), it means, “for ONE thing, ONE treatment.” (in judgment – penalty OR reward).
Judgment of penalty – God is just and righteous, right?
- So, for our ONE sin, we cannot be forgiven without being punished (ONE punishment). Because God is just and righteous.
- Also, for ONE sin, we are not punished TWO or THREE times after receiving the ONE punishment, because God is just and righteous. ALL our sins are/were/have been/will be punished in our substitute, Jesus Christ.
- 2 Peter 2:24 “Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed.”
- Yes, by accepting him as our personal Savior and Lord, we become children of God – to become purified. “If we confess our sins, he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9?) But we are not saved/forgiven for our confession of sin, but BY our confession of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 1:7 “The blood of Christ purifies us from all things.”
Yes, today (every day) we must confess and repent – but this is NOT the ground on which we may be forgiven. ONLY the blood of Christ is on which we may be forgiven.
Judgment of reward – Do you like reward?
2. Is anticipating a reward good or bad?
Positive or negative? We must be very serious, faithful to this question.
Is liking a reward good or bad? Good!! – honestly speaking, I like rewards, and the Bible also encourages us to anticipate the reward
- Revelation 21: “Behold, I am coming soon. I am bringing my reward with me and will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
- also “Anyone who receives a prophet/righteous man, he will receive this reward. If anyone gives a cup of water to one of my little ones, he will not lose his reward.”
- Honestly speaking, I am nothing, but if you receive me, as pastor, you will receive a pastor’s reward.
- If you receive your neighbor, you will receive the reward of a child of God.
In the matter of reward, he is also warning and challenging us in the Sermon on the Mount –
Matthew 6 “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from heaven. Do not announce with trumpets as hypocrites do – but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what the right is doing. When you pray, do not pray standing before men to be seen by them – they have received their reward in full already. But when you pray, go into your room and pray in secret. When you fast, do not look somber. They distort their faces on purpose to show they are fasting, but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your head. And your Father will see what is done in secret and will reward you.”
- 3x = “They have already received their reward…”
- 3x = “Your Father will see what is done in secret and reward you…”
If we receive reward on earth, no reward in heaven – and vice versa.
3: Where is our reward from?
- If we do something expecting a reward from men on earth, it makes us miserable, hypocrites, and have an empty life.
- But, if we do something expecting a reward from God in heaven, it makes us more motivated, passionate, driven, and fulfilled.
We are worshiping God expecting a reward from heaven – not from this earth.