Zephaniah 3:16-20

Zephaniah 3:16 (KJB)

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.


In that day refers to the time when Judah shall be restored to their land after the captivity.  There will be no longer any need to fear since they paid the penalty for their sins and their enemies will have been vanquished and they will live in peace.  However, that is not the time to become slack or lazy, they are to be involved in not only rebuilding the land but also they are now to concentrate upon restoring the Mosaic system of sacrifices and obedience to the Law of Moses.  This was one of the great criticisms found in the book of Haggai where the people had rebuilt their own houses and were living in comfort but they neglected the building of the temple and that is why Zephaniah is also chiding them to get busy when they return to the land.


Zephaniah 3:17 (KJB)

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.


This particular verse parallels the story of the Prodigal Son.  Luke 15:32 (KJV) It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.  The father had rejoiced over the fact that his son who was dead in the things of the world has now returned unto him and that made him rejoice.  Now the same thing has happened to Judah.  They will return unto the land and they will seek the Lord and once again re-establish their relationship with him as they did in the past.  God had placed his name in Jerusalem and he was in their midst and will rejoice in the fact that they have returned unto him.  This verse is also dripping with salvation language.  God will not only save Judah physically to return them to the land but he will also save the Elect within Judah who will also be present at the time the Lord Jesus Christ comes to Jerusalem.  Isaiah 62:5 (KJV) For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.  God will rejoice over the bride he will choose out for his Son.  There will be such a time of rejoicing that the prophet states that God will be singing over this return to him just as the father of the Prodigal Son rejoiced.  Luke 15:7 (KJV) I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.


Zephaniah 3:18 (KJB)

I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.


Then while Judah shall be captive in Babylon, they will be very solemn because they will once again desire to be back in their land under the protection of the LORD.  They know that the seventy years of captivity will mean that many of them will die in Babylon and never see the land of Israel again.  Psalm 42:2 (KJV) My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  They will thirst for God as one thirsts for water in a dry land.  Psalm 63:1 (KJV) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  The water spoken of in Psalm 63:1 is not the physical water but that of the water of the truth of God’s word and the gospel itself.  The reproach of Judah were those enemies that continually taunted them and threatened them with invasion and to be conquered.  They will also be burdened with these types of threats as they are living in Babylon as a conquered people and it would become as a daily burden to hear the continual threats.


Zephaniah 3:19 (KJB)

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.


Here God promises Judah that all those who had threatened them and had attacked them and even the Babylonians who conquered them and took them into captivity for seventy years that he will deal with all the enemies of Judah and none of them will escape the judgment of God.  Many of those who were afflicted both physically and emotionally will God save from being afflicted anymore by their enemies.  He will regather the people from Babylon and even Ethiopia in Arabia where some may have been sent as slaves and they will return unto the land of Judah.  God will deal with their enemies so those who put them to shame will now be as if they will be getting praises from their enemies since God will deal with each one according to their dealings with Judah.  This retribution by God on their enemies will cause them to be famous just as the word spread when they came out of Egypt.


Zephaniah 3:20 (KJB)

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.


When the Lord will be dealing with the enemies of Judah, he will be regathering them back into the land and as a result when the surrounding nations see that the Lord is once again fighting for Judah, the fear of God will fall upon the nations and they will give praises to Judah instead of taunting them as they see God once again working with his ancient people.  The LORD ends up this prophecy with “saith the LORD” which means that it is as good as done and at the end of seventy years they will experience all the Lord has promised them and those who are alive on that day will witness a great restoration to their land.