Zephaniah 2:11-15

Zephaniah 2:11 (KJB)

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.


Here the LORD states that he will be terrible unto the Ammonites and Moabites.  The word “terrible” carries with it the meaning of “to cause fear or be terrified.”  These pagan nations will be judged and that will cause much fear among them as they experience God’s wrath against them.  God will also famish the false gods they worship.  The word “famish” carries with it the meaning of “to lessen or to dwindle” which means that as God judges the pagan nations, they will think less and less of their false gods until they come to the point that those false gods are really no gods at all and will cause all the inhabitants of Moab and Ammon to worship the true God.  This guarantee even stretches out to the entire world when God will lessen the worship of the false gods in all nations and they will suffer judgment.  This is also a precursor to the final judgment day when all the false gods of the world will be brought to nothing and that includes nations like India where they have about 330 million different gods or countries that worship Buddha and even Islamic countries where they just about worship Mohammed.  All these false gods will be brought to nothing and then the world will see that the greatest friends they had were the Christians who wanted to see them free from false religions with their ultimate penalty of eternal damnation.


Zephaniah 2:12 (KJB)

Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.


The Ethiopians which were located in Arabia Chusea or Ethiopia which was in close proximity to Ammon and Moab.  Here God is stating that they will not escape the coming judgment and will suffer many deaths by the sword of the Lord which is referring to the Chaldeans who will also devastate Judah.  2 Chronicles 14:9 (KJV) And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.  Zera the Ethiopian came against King Asa with a mighty army of over one million soldiers.   However, the Lord fought for Israel as King Asa prayed unto the Lord and defeated them.


Zephaniah 2:13 (KJB) And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.


God now points to the north and mentions Assyria.  They were the most powerful empire at the time but even their great defenses and military might was not going to be enough since they were also part of the decree which God made to use the Chaldeans to destroy them.  Read the Book of Nahum who prophesied the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians.  After the Babylonians sacked Nineveh it became like a waste land never again to rise.


Zephaniah 2:14 (KJB)

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.


Here is an insight into how devastating the destruction of Nineveh would be.  No longer would it be a center of great military might or commerce, instead there are going to be flocks of animals in the middle of it which means it goes from being a metropolis to rural.  The fact that animals will be allowed to roam there means that the people have been removed which would happen under the Babylonians.  This judgment on Nineveh is like the pronounced judgment against the coast cities of the Philistines.  Zephaniah 2:5-6 (KJV) 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.  {6} And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.  The cormorant is a type of unclean bird under the Levitical law which is probably the Pelican.  Leviticus 11:18 (KJV) And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,  The bittern is thought to be a hedgehog  which will find lodging in the lintels of the columns that have fallen from the destruction and were lying on the ground.  The bittern could also be a type of owl since it emits some type of sound like a bird.  Their voices will make a doleful mourning sound which would represent the destruction of Nineveh.  The thresholds were on the bottom of the doors and if you remember that God condemned Judah for leaping over the thresholds in the false temples, they will now be desolate because of the destruction.  The cedar wood which was used to build their houses will be exposed because they will be in a state of disrepair being destroyed by the Chaldeans.


Zephaniah 2:15 (KJB)

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.


Nineveh is described as a great rejoicing city that took pride in its own strength and power.  Their arrogance was so that they believed there was no power on earth or in Heaven that could ever attack and defeat them.  Now the reality will be that once the Chaldeans finish with them, the great secure city will be no more great or secure.  It will be a desolation when the people are gone and the beasts of the fields and those flocks which will inhabit the main city will be in the midst where the mighty armies stood and the glory of the king’s palace was visible.  To hiss and wag the hands were two signs of mockery or ridicule as people look at what one was a great city and now see it as a desolate place for animals to roam free in.  It was Nineveh becoming a proverb just as God promised Israel that they would become a proverb among the nations if they disobey him.  Deuteronomy 28:37 (KJV) And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.  The proverb is a saying that brings out truth in a different way than directly.  It normally is a mini-story in a sentence.  Here Nineveh will become a proverb and that truth would be written like this, “Nineveh thought they were untouchable and could never be defeated.”  Now the proverb, “look at Nineveh as you walk by” and the destruction of it gives the essence of the parable.  As you see Nineveh in its destroyed state, it teaches a lesson that nothing is untouchable in this world especially if God decrees its destruction.