Zephaniah 1:1-6




The name “Zephaniah” means “The Lord has hidden or God hides.”  He prophesied during the reign of Josiah.  Josiah reigned from 640 B.C. to 609 B.C but the ministry of Zephaniah did not cover that entire 31 year period.  The theme of the book of Zephaniah is the revelation of social and moral conditions plus the disciplinary value of suffering.  It also touches upon the day of the LORD.  Zephaniah was also of royal descent based upon his short genealogy presented in the first verse.  This book is one of the most graphic of the Minor Prophets as it deals with the spiritual pride and idolatry of Judah which will resulted in their captivity in Babylon.


Zephaniah 1:1 (KJB)

The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.


Here Zephaniah gives a genealogy which is something rare for a prophet of God to do.  Elijah the Tishbite came on the scene all of a sudden but nothing is known about his past.  Not much is known about Cushi except that he was the great grandson of King Hezekiah.  The same with Gedaliah.  Jeremiah mentions a Gedaliah but he is of a different lineage.  Amariah is also one that is not known well as other books mention an Amariah but they are different families.  We do know that the Hizkiah above is referring to King Hezekiah which means that Zephaniah was in the royal line.  Zephaniah prophesied in the years between 640 B.C. and 609 B.C. during the reign of King Josiah of Judah.  Zephaniah prophesied against the wickedness and idolatry which was rampant in Judah and that judgment was approaching.  Babylon carries Judah away in three different phases, they were 606 B.C., 597 B.C. and 586 B.C.


Zephaniah 1:2 (KJB)

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.


Here the LORD makes an authoritative declaration that he is going to consume all of Judah off the land.  The word “consume” means “perish or terminate.”  Since Judah had fallen into such sinful rebellion against God, they were soon going to experience the judgment of God upon them for walking in rebellion.  The thriving land of Judah would become as a waste land.


Zephaniah 1:3 (KJB)

I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.


Here the LORD states that the cleansing will be so thorough that even the birds, beasts of the land and the fish of their seas and lakes will be consumed.  God is the creator so he has the right to remove or destroy any and all life from the land.  This sounds like the declaration that God made to Noah when he was going to destroy the world in a flood.  Genesis 6:7 (KJV) And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.  Judah was steeped in idolatry and that is described as the stumblingblocks.  The idols are stumblingblocks because they stand in the way of discovering who the real God of the universe is.  Then God speaks about cutting man off from the land which would have reference to the coming Babylonian captivity that would begin in 606 B.C.


Zephaniah 1:4 (KJB)

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;


The judgment of God will reach into every part of Judah and that includes Jerusalem where the temple was and the priests who accompanied the temple worship.  Idolatry was so rampant that God states that he is going to cut off every remnant of Baal from the land which would be Dan to Beersheba.  The “Chemarims” were idolatrous priests.  In 2 Kings 23:5 we read.  2 Kings 23:5 (KJV) And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.  The Hebrew word behind “idolatrous priests” is the word “kâmâr” which is the word for “Chemarims” that is left untranslated in Zephaniah 1:4.  The regular priests must have tolerated or gone along with the idolatrous priests since they have also been singled out as a group that will be cut off from the land.


Zephaniah 1:5 (KJB)

And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;


Then there were those Israelites which had taken up the worship of the sun, moon, and stars which was a popular cult in the ancient near east.  They were given strict warning against astral worship in the Law of Moses.  Deuteronomy 17:3 (KJV) And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;  Then they would also be swearing by the name of the Lord and worshipping him but their hearts were still steeped in idolatry as Jeremiah addressed this problem too.  Jeremiah 7:9-10 (KJV) Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; {10} And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?  Not only were they swearing by the name of the LORD but were also swearing by the name of Malcham which was also known by Milcom, Molech, and Moloch.  Amos had addressed this idolatry.  Amos 5:26 (KJV) But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.  Solomon also made that grave mistake of worshipping Moloch.  1 Kings 11:5 (KJV) For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.  All idolatry was going to be dealt with in Judah.


Zephaniah 1:6 (KJB)

And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.


Then there is another group which will face judgment and that is those who have turned away from the LORD.  Those who have ignored him or treated him as he did not exist and went about their daily lives doing everything according to their own ways.  The ones who have turned back are the ones who have gone into apostasy.  Just like in the modern church, so many have gone into apostasy and think they are serving the Lord when they are serving the devil.  Then there is another group of those who have not sought the Lord.  These are those who are unbelievers and have no desire to seek the Lord because they are just not the elect of God so they go their own way according to their own wisdom.  Romans 3:11 (KJV) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  Then the other group are those who did not inquire of the Lord.  They are the ones who sought other gods.  Hosea 4:12 (KJV) My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.  When King Ahaziah fell through his lattice, instead of seeking the God of Israel, he sent to inquire of the god of Ekron which was the Philistines.  2 Kings 1:3 (KJV) But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron?  How many today are inquiring by psychics, Ouija boards, tarot cards, Horoscopes and such.  These are nothing more than Satanism in a different package with their roots going back to the ancient practices of inquiring with false gods.  The form may have changed but the rebellion has not.