The first chapter of Zephaniah brings us front and center with the theme of this book – the
“Day of the LORD.” There are two parts to the “Day of the LORD.” One of unparalleled wrath and judgment from God followed by great blessings from God. The focus of this first chapter is on the unparalleled wrath and judgment that is coming.

1 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.

The ministry of Zephaniah took place during the reign of Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:1-3.
Josiah was eight years old when he began his reign of 31 years. He was a godly king. In the 21st century it is unfathomable that an eight-year-old would be the head of a government. In fact, we are told about Josiah, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” When we look at the condition of the government of the United States, we certainly couldn’t do any worse with a godly eight-year-old in charge. But I digress. Josiah made many reforms honoring Jehovah. But the writing of this book was likely in the years prior to the reform.

2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.
3 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.

The destruction of all things goes beyond what is coming with Babylon and begins the
theme of the “Day of the Lord” that is prominent in this book. The “Day of the LORD” starts at the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation period. In the latter part of the Tribulation period, during the “bowl” judgments, the 2nd Bowl Judgment states: “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea,” Revelation 16:3. A statement that parallels what we have in these verses in chapter one. One of the purposes of the coming “Day of the LORD” is to show the inhabitants of the earth that there is a God who reigns in heaven, and all are ultimately accountable to Him for their actions. The “stumbling blocks of the wicked” are the different barriers that the world erects against God. These barriers are idols against the truth of God. These barriers – evolution, atheism, materialism, Marxism, etc. – will be removed when Jesus returns and reigns on the throne of David.

4 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;
5 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;
6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.

The destruction specifically addresses Judah and thus, in vs. 4-6, refers to the coming
Babylonian captivity. The Chemarims were priests who practiced idolatry, thus were religious hypocrites. People, vs. 5, who were involved in the occult and those that claim to believe in the LORD but also accept other deities will be destroyed. Finally, vs. 6, apostates and those who have never shown any interest in God will be destroyed.

One of the most striking statements of these verses is “them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham.” “Malcham” is Klm, transliterated “melek.” Melek is the word for king in Hebrew and the same Hebrew word in verse 8 is translated king(s). The reference is to the pagan god Moloch (Leviticus 20:2Amos 5:26) which means king. The hypocrisy of the people in the elevating of the false god Moloch to the level of Jehovah is stunning. The most basic command to the Jewish people is “thou shalt have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3. Payday is coming. There are no other Gods other than Jehovah. Those who worship other gods, including those who, in essence, worship themselves as god – secular humanists – will one day answer to the Creator of heaven and earth. There are many who claim to worship God – and this includes Jesus, the Son of God, who is part of the Triune God – but elevate things such as religious tradition before the teaching of the word of God. They are just as idolatrous as the most
pagan religious practitioner. The rest of this chapter warns the inhabitants of planet earth that God’s day of reckoning has arrived.

7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.
8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.

The prophet now turns back to the future “Day of the Lord.” The sacrifice of verse 7 is
further detailed in Ezekiel 39:1-817-22 and Revelation 19:11-18. His guests are the carrion creatures of the world. The meal is the dead bodies of the armies who have come against Israel.

“And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to
every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side
to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of
Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.” Ezekiel 39:17

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the
fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the
supper of the great God.” Revelation 19:17

The rulers of this world will be destroyed. As Psalm 2 tells us the “rulers take counsel
together, against the LORD, and against his anointed,” vs. 2. But God laughs at their at their desire to overthrow Him, vss. 3-4. Thieves (“those that leap on the threshold”) who to please their “masters” (think of politicians, CEOs, etc. in today’s world) use whatever means needed, whether violence or lies, to steal from the people so as to enrich their “masters.” They will be destroyed.

10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
13 Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

The “Day of the Lord” judgment continues with a warning to those who are complacent
and believe in a God, but think He has no power or say in the affairs of men, vs. 12, – in essence, practical atheists.

These are religious people who don’t know God personally but profess to be religious. A prime example is Joe Biden, President of the U.S.A. and Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives. They claim to be “good Catholics.” In reality they govern and legislate as if God “will not do good or do evil.” The U.S.A., as well as other countries of the world, are full of these types of people. The day is coming when people’s wealth (“silver and gold”) and influence will be useless.

14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick
16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

The “Day of the Lord” is coming, and it is a “day” like no one has ever experienced (on a
world-wide basis). Notice the words that describe the “Day of the LORD.” It is “a day of wrath,” “a day of trouble and distress,” “a day of wasteness and desolation,” “a day of darkness and gloominess,” and “a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

The judgment is from God! He will bring distress upon them, and they will walk like blind men. The ways of these people, who have rebelliously sinned against God, are without direction. Think of a blind man put into a strange place and ask him to navigate the area successfully. It would be impossible. What an apt picture of the direction the United States is going. The leaders of this country are doing things that are illogical, destructive, counter-productive, and in opposition to biblical morality. In the coming “Day of the LORD,” the rudderless direction of the countries of the world will be increased exponentially.