THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH (Part Two)

Posted: June 2, 2010 in Adrian Tamblyn-Watts, Listed teachings
Tags: , , , , ,

II Kings 23:10-14 – Josiah’s reforms were sweeping and comprehensive. It is interesting to note that it was the discovered Word of God that triggered this ‘clean-up’, such is the power of God’s Word (Ephesians 5:25; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Titus 3:5-7).

Josiah destroyed Topheth (sacred enclosure/place of burning), the fireplace where human sacrifices took place in the Valley of Hinnom (or, the Valley of the son of Hinnom).[1]

Vss. 15-18 – Here is recorded a wonderful fulfilment of prophecy (I Kings 13:1&2; 30&31).

  • Josiah surveys the wreckage around the high place at Bethel. In so doing he notices the graves on the a hillside. He removes the bones from the graves and burns them upon the altar and fulfils what was spoken by an unnamed prophet in I Kings 13: 1&2.
  • He then notices a monument and asks after its identity and purpose. He learns that it is that of the prophet who specifically prophesied the king’s actions (I Kings 13:2).

Vss. 19&20 – Josiah removes all of the sex and religion facilities that were built to service the demands of each particular high place. It is interesting that a king of Judah entered what was now a foreign territory, i.e. Samaria (old Israel) and continued his clean up there. He obviously enjoyed some sort of favourable relationship with the Assyrian conquerors (around a century before) of Israel.

Josiah’s reforms were as brutal as they were comprehensive (cf. Vs. 24). The priests who sacrificed upon the various high places were slaughtered on their own pagan altars along with the human bones found in the area in order to discourage any repeat of the practice.

Vss. 21-23 – One of the greatest Passover celebrations ever known in Judah took place in the wake of Josiah’s sweeping and comprehensive reforms. It marked a potential new beginning, a genesis matched only by the original Passover celebrated in Egypt all those generations ago (Exodus 12:1-13).

Vs. 25 – Given the fact that this is the inspired Word of God, Josiah’s recorded reputation is impressive indeed.

Vss. 26&27 – Regardless of Josiah’s reforms, God was intent on the destruction and removal of Judah and it is into this situation the Zephaniah is about to minister.

Ω

Zephaniah 1:2&3 – As Zephaniah mentions nothing of the reforms of Josiah, it is logical assume that his ministry preceded the discovery of the Book of Covenant. He was probably prophesying in Jerusalem during Josiah’s teenage years.

The prophet begins his message with a description of God’s ultimate act of judgment upon the earth (II Peter 3:10-13). Regardless of men’s efforts, good or otherwise, as was the case with king Josiah, the world will eventually be comprehensively and finally judged, as was the case in the days of Noah.

Vss. 4-6 – The word “So” at the beginning of verse 4 means ‘in the manner’. It is with this same finality, intensity and grim determination that God will deal with Judah. Josiah, representative of God’s attitude toward the truly repentant (Deuteronomy 31:10-13), will not live to see such a dark day (cf. Revelation 20:11-15).

The list of ‘targets’ for this judgement is revealing:

  • Judah in general, i.e. universal (Matthew 24:4-14 & 29-51; Acts 17:31; cf. I Peter 4:17).
  • The inhabitants of Jerusalem, the religious, economic and political capital of Judah (Galatians 4:21-31; cf. Revelation 17:1-13 & 18:1-8).
  • All that remains of false religion (Colossians 2:18-23; Revelation:19:20&21).
  • The idol priests (A.V. – Chemarin = honourable term for the Canaanite priests) along with the backslidden priests of Judaism (John 10:12; cf. Jeremiah 10:21; 23:2; 50:6) .
  • Those who worship the heavens and their members. Associated with the worship of the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17), i.e. Ashtoreth (Judges 2:11-15). (Romans 1:25; Revelation 6:13; 8:12).
  • The hypocrites who pretend to worship the one and only true God (Matthew 7:6; Luke 6:46; Titus 1:16).
  • The backsliders (Romans 2:21-32; Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31).
  • The wilfully ignorant (Romans 2:18-20).

 


[1] Even after the reforms the valley retained its awful reputation. It was later used as a dump for the burning of garbage. This gave rise to the use of its name as the place of final punishment for unbelievers (ge hinnom = Gr. Gehenna. Matt. 5:22, et al).

 

Produced by: Adrian Tamblyn-Watts

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