Joel, Micah, & Zephaniah Lesson 13
Who is spoken to in verse 1?
Who is “her God” in this verse?
Zephaniah 3:3, 4
What is the message of these verses?
- Where is God in this verse?
- To whom is it that “every morning He brings His justice to light”?
Zephaniah 4:6, 7
- What is “I said” in verse 1a?
- What “instruction” was expected to be accepted in verse 7b?
- What is the message of verses 6 and 7?
- Who is asked to wait for the lord in verse 8a?
- What are they to wait for?
- What is meant by “when I rise up to the prey”?
- Who is I?
- Who is “the prey”?
- “Indeed, my decision is to gather nations . . . ” Is this gathering for the righteous to receive reward, for the wicked to receive punishment, or for both? Note The Hebrew reads, “For my justice is to gather nations.”
- What is the relationship of the content of verse 9 to verse 8?
- To whom are verses 9-12 addressed?
- Who is “you” in the phrase, “In that day you will feel no shame . . . ” (verse 11a)?
- Who are the “proud, exulting ones” in verse 11c?
- Who is “you” in “You will never again be haughty on My holy mountain”? Why will they never again be haughty on God’s holy mountain? (verse 11d.)
- Who is “you” in verse 12a?
- When is verse 12 to be accomplished? What is the message of this verse?
- In your opinion, does verse 13 go with verse 12 or with verse 14?
- Where are the “remnant of Israel” spoken of in verse 13a, if verse 13 goes with verses 1-12? Where are the remnant if verse 13 goes with verses 14-20?
- What is the general time relationship between verses 12 and 14?
- Where is God in verse 15? Compare/contrast with where God is in verse 5?
- In this context, who is the enemy God has removed?
What is the message of this verse?
What is the message of this verse? Note especially the last two phrases.
What is the message of verse 18?
What is the message of this verse?
What is the message of this verse?
Ninevah, the capitol of Assyria – cf. 2:13-15. Note; There are those who believe the city addressed is Jerusalem, in 3:1, but that would make 3:1 stand without context in a passage where Ninevah is being discussed.
Nineveh’s God is here Jehovah.
Zephaniah 3:3, 4
The leader’s lives are a living violation of what is expected from one who has God in their midst. The Hebrew word translated “sanctuary” K.B. translates in our text as “what is holy” (p. 827).
- In this verse God is dwelling in the city of Nineveh – Assyria’s capitol!
- To Nineveh’s people.
Note; Zephaniah, as other Old Testament prophets, presents God working for the nations – not limiting His interests to Israel and her welfare.
Zephaniah 3:6, 7
- The Lord.
- The lessons of verse 6.
- God is Nineveh’s Lord. He has given them examples of the rewards of evil doing in the judgments listed in verse 6. From these the Lord hoped the Ninevites would learn to avoid doing evil (verse 7a), so they would not be destroyed (verse 7c), but they still loved to corrupt the good (verse 7d).
- All – righteous and wicked.
- They are to wait for the judgment; they are not to think God has abdicated.
Note; This is the issue that confronts all people who feel they have been wronged; will we wait for the judgment? Notice the reason for this:
“The Pharisees in their false ideas as to what constituted the keeping of the commandments of God, cherished malice and revenge; but Christ taught that all malice must be expelled from the soul. The evil done to us by another must remain unresented, unavenged.” Ellen G. White in Present Truth and Review & Herald Articles, Vol. 3, p. 29.
“The Lord encourages our confidence; and the great proof of our union with Christ, and the best manifestation of our love to him, is in yielding obedience to his claims. If you have love to Jesus Christ, which is an expression of the life of Christ in the soul, then you will do what he commands you.” Ibid.
- “Rise up to the prey” is a phrase that means mercy has ended; justice is taking over. The destruction of the wicked is to begin.
- The rejecters of His instructions (v. 7) and the justice He daily brings to light (v. 5). Those in whose city He dwells (v. 5), those to whom He has demonstrated His principles (v. 6), those to whom he is “her God” (v. 2), who do not learn by His presence. Those to whom He has given a time of instruction (probation), in verses 6 and 7b, but who still love to corrupt their deeds (v. 7d).
- For destruction – justice gives what reward has been earned by one’s works; mercy (available through Christ) gives not what is due by our deeds.
- It is the second half of a judgment scene; the reward of the wicked was presented first in verse 8b, while the reward of the righteous is presented in verses 9, 10 and 11.
- Nineveh, who is not totally evil.
- Nineveh’s leaders.
- “You” in Nineveh; they will never be haughty on God’s holy mountain again, because their destruction is imminent.
- Nineveh’s leaders.
- When Nineveh is destroyed.
The message of the verse is that God is in control of even rebellious cities like Nineveh, and that at the proper time He will destroy them – but even in such a retributive act He will not cause to perish any who trust in His name – not even the poor and weak.
- Verse 13 can go with the first 12 verses or it can go with verses 14-20; which division in correct is not clear to this writer.
- The “remnant of Israel” is in Assyria, if verse 13 goes with the first twelve verses; however, they are in Israel if verse 13 is seen as going with verses 14-20. The message of assurance that is verse 13c would seem to point to the remnant being in Assyria’s territory; however, the assurance of verse 15 could have them be in Judah.
Wherever God’s people are, the message of verse 14 ties their fidelity to Him to His protection of them.
- The time of the destruction of Nineveh (v. 12) is 612 B.C. The time of the total restoration of Israel (vs. 14-20) has not happened, and due to the change of eschatology that occurs in connection with the death of Jesus, will never happen in the sense of Old Testament eschatology. However, the promises of verses 14-20 realized a limited fulfillment by the events accompanying the fall of Assyria, and the return of the people from the Babylonian captivity.
(In a non-geographical way, verses 13-20 are existentially applicable to all Christians. See Mrs. White’s use of these verses as, for example, the material that appears in volume 6 of Testimonies For the Church, pp. 457, 64, quoted below.)
- In verse 15, God is in the midst of Israel or Jerusalem, while in verse 5 God is in the midst of Assyria or more specifically, Nineveh.
- Nineveh, or Assyria.
The message of this verse is don’t fail or fall apart when that which has been pressing you is removed; don’t “fall limp.”
Note; Ellen White points out that this is what happened to Elijah after the great victories involved in the events of Mount Carmel.
“It would seem that after showing courage so undaunted, after triumphing so completely over king and priests and people, Elijah could never afterward have given way to despondence nor been awed into timidity. But he who had been blessed with so many evidences of God’s loving care was not above the frailties of mankind, and in this dark hour his faith and courage forsook him. . . . Elijah should not have fled from his post of duty. . . . but a reaction such as frequently follows high faith and glorious success was pressing upon Elijah. . . . While under the inspiration of the Almighty, he had stood in the severest trial of faith; but in this time of discouragement, with Jezebel’s threat sounding in his ears, . . . he lost his hold on God.” Prophets and Kings, pp. 159-162.
This verse builds onto the message of verse 16 by adding the reasons we should not be afraid in the day of trouble – God is in our midst; He will save us.
This verse also tells us that when we trust in God, He rejoices over us with joy, that though He is quiet in His love, He will rejoice over us with singing. (In the context “singing” better portrays the Hebrew when God has just been said to be silent in His love, than does the NASB phrase, “shouts of joy.” For supporting information to this translation see Harris, Archer, Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, #2179.)
The message of this paragraph is a promise of blessing to those who were suffering under the events Zephaniah is addressing. In these verses God promises a future that not only appeals to those receiving it, but to those who are not included due to their sins, but who still observe the blessing which comes to God’s previously suffering people. When people see God’s promises fulfilled, all want a part – righteous and wicked (verse 20).
As we have gone through these studies it has been our intention to make the studier of these lessons aware of the message of the Bible books being studied as having often three different dimensions: The primary application, or the generally Old Testament times understanding and application; the secondary application, or the generally New Testament times understanding and application; and the existential, or “in my own life” application of the passage of Scripture being studied.
In the case of Joel, we found the primary or first message to be that of the end time of our world, an unusual primary application for a complete Old Testament book. While Micah’s first or primary application was to his time – his nation and peoples, an expected primary audience.
In Zephaniah, the last book of this study, we have observed the normal applications occurring. However, in chapter 3:18-20 some material appears which Ellen White quotes and applies after having removed it from its primary or secondary application.
Mrs. White’s use of these verses in the material we are going to quote demonstrates the existential, or “in my life” significance of Biblical material when it is removed from its historical application – either old Testament or New Testament eschatology. While knowing the primary and secondary eschatological applications is important so that we don’t wrest the scripture teachings, the purely existential applications provided by inspired writers are of great value and interest, for they open the door to us which lets us see some of the depth of meaning the Biblical words carry. These purely existential applications as found in inspired writers are also of great value, because they are generally addressed to individual daily life. But we can also find some of these applications ourselves.
For example, the miracle of Jesus in stilling the storm on the sea showed His great power – even the wind and the waves obeyed Him; He is revealed here as the Lord of Nature. And when He speaks to the storm using the same words He has used in speaking to demons in people, we learn that evil is present in many forms to attack God’s people.
But the greatest message of that event is not historical – in the past – but a repeating historic message – He can still the storms in our lives. Today we can pray for peace and know that He can give it, because He has already demonstrated that He can bring instant peace by only speaking a word.
To conclude our study of Zephaniah, we will quote now the passage from Mrs. White where she quotes Zephaniah 3:18-20 in the context of troubles at a Seventh-day Adventist press:
“‘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,’ verses 18-20. Read also the first chapter of Haggai.
“When human agencies, as stewards of God, will unitedly take of the Lord’s own substance and use it to lift the burdens resting on His institutions, the Lord will cooperate with them.” Testimonies For the Church, vol. 6, p. 458.
It is hoped that you have been blessed as you have read or worked through these studies, in the minor prophets reviewed here.