Vs. 8 – “Therefore”, in this instance, is making reference to vss. 6&7. In other words God is saying, through the prophet, “given your attitude towards Me, just you wait. There is a day coming …”

The prophet moves on by saying, “For the day …” Which day is he referring to? Is this to be interpreted on a micro or macro scale?

Vs. 9 – A clue is given here, “I will give to the peoples purified lips…” It is here that one must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Such a purity of speech (lips) was what the prophet Isaiah sought and apparently received (Isaiah 6:5-7; cf. 29:13; 30:27; 59:3; Malachi 2:6&7). Lips, as pertaining to speech are discussed in the New Testament as well (Romans 3:13; Hebrews 13:15; I Peter 3:10). Words, in terms of quality and intent, as spoken (formed) by lips, have the capacity to be different in the life of the believer as opposed to the sinner (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 4:6).

Therefore, the interpreter can deduce that the prophet is referring to the age of the New Covenant, i.e. the age between the two advents of Christ.

Words and the associated ‘equipment’, i.e. tongue, lips, heart (when discussing motive (Matthew 12:34&35; Luke 6:45)), are a prominent aspect within the New Testament writings themselves. It should not be forgotten that words are hugely powerful. Allow all creation to bear witness to that fact (Genesis 1:3, et al).

James goes to some length to illustrate the powerful negative potential of words (James 1:26; 3:1-12). Paul shows us that words play a key role in the works of the flesh with regard to disputes and dissensions which are impossible without speech (Galatians 5:20).

“That all of them my call on the Name of the Lord, …” We read the same in Joel 2:32 where the prophet is without doubt referring to a covenant to come, i.e. the New Covenant which we enjoy. Joel’s words are quoted by Peter in the first great sermon of the New Testament period (Acts 2:16-21). Paul makes the same point through quotation in Romans 10:13.

In fact the entire ‘procedure’ to secure salvation revolves around calling on the Name of the Lord and nothing more (Romans 10:8-11).

It is interesting that Zephaniah points out a quality of these new people: They will serve the Lord “shoulder to shoulder.” In other words unity will be a chief component of the new society (Psalm 133:1; Romans 12:16; Philippians 2:1-4; 4:2).

Vs. 10 – Here the prophet makes it clear that the people of God will come from beyond the present confines of the land. As Egypt was often associated with Ethiopia one can envisage the expanse from which the people will come (Isaiah 43:5). In Old Testament terms that was a universal reach (Matthew 8:11; 21:43; Acts 2:5ff; cf. Zechariah 8:23; Galatians 6:6).

Vs. 8 (review) – Now, as to which day the prophet is referring to: If the covenant he envisages in the wake of the “day” is the new Covenant, then the ‘day’ must be Calvary where the New Covenant was made possible (Isaiah 66:8). If nothing followed vs. 8 one could safely say that Zephaniah was seeing the final judgement. However, he goes on to speak about “peoples [with] purified lips.” In addition, the closing verse (vs. 20) makes it clear that this group under discussion will have renown among the other nations (Revelation 21:24-27).

Produced by: Adrian Tamblyn-Watts

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