Thoughts on Zephaniah: Israel and the Coastlands

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame,
Before the decree takes effect– The day passes like the chaff– Before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you.
Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.
For Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon And Ekron will be uprooted.
Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines; And I will destroy you So that there will be no inhabitant.
So the seacoast will be pastures, With caves for shepherds and folds for flocks.
And the coast will be For the remnant of the house of Judah, They will pasture on it. In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening; For the LORD their God will care for them And restore their fortune.
Zephaniah 2:1-7

Zephaniah is a short three chapter prophesy. He starts with judgement against Israel for its apostasy and idolatry, then includes in judgement the surrounding nations, but at the end of chapter three resolves into the great hope of restoring Israel to the Lord and to the land.

The thing I find interesting is that today, while she finds herself an island amidst a sea of hostility on all sides, there seems little that can be done to bring peace and stability to the region. Great efforts continue to be made politically, publicly as well as I’m sure in secret in back channels, to negotiate with all parties, but this has been going on for decades now with no tangible results.

Frankly, while all parties can not afford to admit failure and can not give up, there is no real chance for success of peace in the Middle East. Not as long as Lord God is left out of the equation. But what if God was brought into the equation somehow. Zephaniah declares that the Lord will certainly bring to pass the fact that Israel will possess the coast lands and that the current occupants will be removed, per the verses above. Wouldn’t it be spectacular, and I speak only in a dream-like state now, if the leaders of Israel acknowledged the Messiah and returned to their Lord God and be restored to fellowship with Him? The only reason they’ve been under judgement depicted by the Old Testament Prophets is because they’ve broken fellowship with the Lord, for a multitude of reasons. What if they recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah and were restored to fellowship with Him, as He promises in the Prophets? Would that bring any of the prophesies that are still yet to be fulfilled much closer to fulfillment?

It is going to happen sooner or later, she will eventually recognize Christ Jesus as her Messiah and Savior. Who is to say that it couldn’t happen very soon? How long can the State of Israel withstand the pressures and hostilities of nations around her who are manically committed to her extermination, who have as a primary ideology that she has no right to exist . . . . not withstanding God’s word to the contrary of course?

Zephaniah, in three brief chapters describes Israel’s neighbors on the losing end of the fight, and, while Israel herself is purged and cleansed by fire, she does make it through to the restoration. And in the end wins the lands she at present only dreams she could possess. Plus she comes back into fellowship with her God. “The LORD has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more.” “At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” Says the LORD. Zephaniah 3:15, 20 It is going to happen. We just wish and hope it would happen quickly!

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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