Zephaniah 1:7-13 Notes – Josh Bramer

Zephaniah Series Title Slide wNames 2014 WEBThe following notes are related to the sermon preached by Josh Bramer at Waterbrook Bible Fellowship, Wylie, Texas, on Sunday, November 2, 2014. These notes were prepared by Josh to supplement his sermon on Zephaniah 1:7-13. This was the second message in this series at Waterbrook on the Old Testament book of Zephaniah. The first message in this series can be found online at this link: https://vimeo.com/110208638

Clothing and Complacency

Zephaniah 1:7–13

 The Day of the Lord in the OT:

  • “Signifies a time when the Lord supernaturally intervenes in the course of human history.”[1]
  • Indicates a time “when the current state of affairs will be replaced by the Lord’s intended order of things.”[2]
  • Negatively, it is a time of judgment on wickedness, on his enemies, and his chosen people. Positively, it is a time when God will vindicate those faithful to him, as well as his own righteousness.[3]
  • “In the Day of the Lord God would judge unrighteousness and bring blessing and security for the faithful (Amos 9:13–15).”[4]
  • Amos 5:18–27 conflicts with the then popular notion that the “Day of the Lord” would only be a time of blessing for the nation.[5]
  • It is “covenant driven.” It focuses on his chosen nation, those who are a part of the Mosaic Covenant. It includes all nations, but focuses on Israel.[6]
  • Nahum, Habakkuk, Malachi, Joel, Obadiah, and Zephaniah concentrate on the Day of the Lord.
  • There are many “Days of the Lord.” “In reality, the ‘historical’ experience of the Day of the Lord encourages preparation for the eschatological Day of he Lord.” The proper preparation is repentance and seeking the Lord.[7]

The Day of the Lord in Zephaniah:

 “The visitation of the sins of Judah as well as the nation’s deliverance are two aspects of the coming Day of the Lord, the central organizing principle of the book.”[8]

According to VanGemeren, Zephaniah develops six features of the Day of the Lord:

  1. the Day signified Yahweh’s intrusion into human affairs
  2. the Day brings God’s judgment on all creation (1:2–3)
  3. the Day is historical and eschatological (1:3)
  4. in the Day all creation will submit to God’s sovereignty (1:7)
  5. the Day does not discriminate in favor of the rich and powerful (1:18; 2:3; 3:12–13)
  6. the Day signifies the day of vindication, glorification, and full redemption of the godly (3:14–20).[9]

 “Perhaps as no other book, Zephaniah focuses on the Day of the Lord. From it emerges the message that the Day of the Lord not only involves judgment for Israel and the nations but will also ultimately result in their restoration.”[10]

 The Day of the Lord in the NT:

 The NT writers pick up on the theme of the “Day of the Lord.” For them, there still awaits a day hen God will “intervene decisively in history to save his people and judge his enemies.”[11]

  • Though each passage must be interpreted individually, most would see phrases such as, “the day,” “the day of God,” “the day of the Lord Jesus,” “the day of Christ,” an many more as alluding to this concept.[12]
  • In the New Testament the “Day of the Lord” is associated with the return of Christ (2 Thess. 2:2ff).
  • This day is said to come unexpectedly (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2ff).
  • This day motivates believers to live godly lives (2 Pet. 3:11).
  • Is associated with a fiery judgment and a new heavens and earth (2 Pet. 3).
  • Some of the references to this day are found in the following passages, though this is by no means exhaustive:
    • Acts 2:17–18, 20
    • 2 Thess. 2:2ff
    • 2 Pet. 3:10ff
    • 1 Cor. 1:8, 5:5
    • Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16
    • Rom. 2:5, 13:11–12.
    • Jude 6
    • Rev. 6:17; 16:14
    • Many more!

 I. The coming judgment of God on all those who have forsaken covenant requires a response of respect and awe (vv. 7–9).

A. A correct response of respect and awe is required because the terrible judgment of God is near (v. 7).

“The day of the Lord is near”

Time had run out for Judah. The judgment was near and inevitable (O. Palmer Robertson, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, 271, see his discussion of verse 7 for more info. on the “Day of the Lord”).


“the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests”


Sacrifice is associated with the covenant-making procedure (vv. 7–8; Gen.15) (Robertson, 268–70). Or it could refer to a fellowship offering (Lev. 7:11–21) (Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 310).


Isa. 34:5–8 and Ezek. 39:17–20 are examples of the imagery of a sacrifice being used of God’s judgments. Also, Rev. 19:17–18 may pick up this idea as well (Robertson, 270).


  • Robertson sees the sacrifice is Judah and Jerusalem, the guests may be birds and beasts, or the nations coming to carry out God’s judgment (i.e. Babylon) (Robertson, 270–71). This seems to be the strongest view.
  • Sweeney sees this as a sacrificial meal to be enjoyed in the presence of God. The sacrifice as the punishment on the ruling class, which acts as the purification for the people (Sweeney, Zephaniah, 83).
  • Bruckner sees the guests as those consecrated to be the sacrifice. These are the people of Judah, specifically the rulers (Bruckner, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 288).
  • Patterson likewise see the guests as those who become the sacrifice if they do  not repent. but if they do, they can enjoy a fellowship meal (Patterson, 311–12). the main weakness here is that God consecrates the guests, there is no call to repent in order to be one of those consecrated.


B. The judgment of God is declared on those who have forsaken covenant by taking on the culture of pagan nations, ascribed power to other gods, and have taken advantage of others for personal gain (vv. 8–9).


1. The judgment of God is declared on the ruling class and those who have taken on the culture of the surrounding nations (v. 8).


“I will punish the officials and the king’s sons”


Throughout, punish=visit. The visit may be for blessing (Ruth 1:6), or for judgment (Zeph. 1:8). Here ii is certainly for judgment (Ronald B. Allen, a Shelter in the Fury: A Prophets Stunning picture of God, 53–54). It is followed by the preposition ‘al, “on, upon,” which introduces each group to be “visited.”


Judgment starts with the leadership.


Maybe he doesn’t include the king because Josiah was starting/would start reforms (Robertson, 275).


“And all who array themselves in foreign attire”


  • Could refer to priestly clothes. This would signify syncretistic worship. This situation is seen in 2 Kings 10:22ff (Robertson, 276).
  • Could refer to “preoccupation with gods and goods” of the surrounding pagan nations. They had adopted their lifestyle (Patterson, 312).
  • Could refer to political allegiances (Keil).


All have merit, and there may be a mixture. They were not to be like the nations around them (2 Kings 17:15).



2. The judgment of God is declared on those who superstitiously ascribe power to other gods and those who take advantage of others for gain (v. 9).


“Everyone who leaps over the threshold”


This refers to a superstitious pagan practice. This cab be seen of the Philistines with their god Dagon in 1 Samuel 5:4–5.


Like the clothing, the Israelites had adopted foreign pagan practices.


“Those who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud”


“They observe the minutia of a senseless pagan law, but then run rampant over the basic ordinances of God in his own house” (Robertson, 278).


Or this could refer to a pagan god’s temple, or even the king himself.


Gen. 6:11, 13 record a time when the earth was filled with violence, and that occasioned God’s wrath. Jeremiah also laments this situation in the temple (Jer. 7). The issue there was oppression of the alien, fatherless, and widow. Matt. 21:13 record Jesus response to the same kind of thing in the temple in his own day.


These are more signs of breaking covenant, since they were to care for, not oppress the needy. This was to be a reflection of the God they worshiped (Deut 10:18).


II. Reliance upon wealth and complacency towards God will result in God’s swift judgment of exile (vv. 10–13).


A. Reliance upon wealth and complacency towards God will result in the judgment of God (vv. 10–12).


1. The reliance on wealth and the sinful practices of the merchants will result in the judgment of God (vv. 10–11).


v. 10:


Though there is some debate concerning the exact location and significance of each location mentioned, it seems reasonable to conclude this:


  • The “Fish Gate” is the food market, and most likely the first place an attacking army would enter.
  • The “Second Quarter” was the newest neighborhood.
  • “A crash from the hills” refers to the destruction of the pagan temples that were placed on hills (Deut. 12:2; 1 Kings 14:23, 2 Kings 17:10; Jeremiah 2:20).


v. 11:

  • “The Mortar” is the market district.[13]


“For all the traders are no more”


“Traders” is actually the word for “Canaanite.” Though the name “Canaanite” became synonoumous with “tradesmen,” (Robertson, 279) it seems to be implying more here. The people had become so corrupt and so much like the pagans around them, they are called “Canaanites!” (Allen, 56).


“those who weigh out silver are no more”


The merchants and traders are being judged. Not because those things are bad in and of themselves, but those at that time were corrupt, and had forsaken covenant (Bruckner, 289).


2. The complacency of the inhabitants of Judah toward God will result in the judgment of God (v. 12).


“I will search Jerusalem with lamps”


No one will escape the judgment. God will search them out.


“The men who are complacent”


Lit. “who thicken on their sediment.” The metaphor is of aging wine. Either it refers to wine that is aging well, and should not be disturbed. Or it is of wine that has been left too long and therefore thickens. Either way, it refers to those who are complacent in their sin (Bruckner, 290; NET Bible note for Zephaniah 1:12).


“Who think to themselves, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’”


They are complacent in their sin, and do not believe God will judge. Notice, God can see their innermost thoughts. Many parallels to 2 Peter, where the false teachers denied future judgment, and therefore lived unholy lives.


B. The result of God’s judgment on the wicked and complacent will be swift and end in exile (v. 13).


v. 13:


Their wealth was the source of their complacency, and it will be taken away (Bruckner, 290).

They had nod heeded the warning in Deut. 8:17–18 concerning wealth and pride (Robertson, 280).


This is the first sign of a military invasion, which will be developed in 14–18. This parallels the curses contained in the covenant for forsaking covenant (Deut. 28:30, 39).


“Sometimes it is the apathetic and indifferent who are more responsible for a nation’s moral collapse than those who are actively engaged in evil, or those who have failed in the responsibilities of leadership” (Craigie, Twelve Prophets, 2:114).


“Zephaniah’s words on indifference touch the conscience of multitudes, those who are not guilty of unbelief, but are equally never overwhelmed by belief…The way things are is partly because that is the way we have allowed them to become. We can sit back, smug and somnolent in a desperate world, but we cannot at the same time absolve ourselves from all responsibility, and we shall eventually be caught in the very chaos we permit” (Craigie, Twelve Prophets, 2:114).



  1. We must respond to God’s judgment with reverence and awe, not complaints, excuses, or apathy.
  2. As God’s people we are called to be different. We cannot allow ourselves to look like the world, when we are called to be different.
  3. We enjoy material security, and we often become complacent. We must not be complacent when it comes to this world, nor our personal spiritual lives.


A few helpful resources:


Ronald B. Allen. A Shelter in the Fury: A Prophets Stunning Picture of God. Portland:             Multnomah, 1986.

This is an extremely helpful resource. Very readable and understandable. A great scholar, but it is written in non-technical words. Also full of anecdotes and illustrations. Highly recommended.


James Bruckner. Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. NIV Application Commentary. Edited by Terry Muck. Grand Rapids: Zondevan, 2004.

            A very readable commentary. Based on good scholarship, yet accessible to those without facility in Hebrew. Also provides helpful links to modern day believer.


O. Palmer Robertson. Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. The New International Commentary   on the Old Testament. Edited by R. K. Harrison. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.

            This resource is more technical. For those looking for an in-depth commentary this is the one. However, it is not an easy read.

[1] Michael A. Grisanti, “Joel,” in The Word and the World: An Introduction to the Old Testament, Eugene H. Merrill, Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti (Nashville: B&H, 2011), 427.

[2] John H. Walton, “Zephaniah,” in A Survey of the Old Testament, 2nd ed., Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 523.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mark F. Rooker, “The Prophetic Books,” in The Word and the World, 366.

[5] Andrew E. Hill, “Amos,” in A Survey of the Old Testament, 2nd ed, 482.

[6] Michael A. Grisanti, “Joel,” in The Word and the World, 427.

[7] Michael A. Grisanti, “Joel,” in The Word and the World, 423, 427. See also, John H. Walton, “Zephaniah,” in A Survey of the Old Testament, 2nd ed., 524.

[8] Mark F. Rooker, “Zephaniah,” in The Word and the World, 473–74.

[9] W. VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prophetic Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 174–76. Presented in this particular form by, Mark F. Rooker, “Zephaniah,” in The Word and the World, 476.

[10] Mark F. Rooker, “Zephaniah,” in The Word and the World, 476.

[11] Douglas J. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 76.

[12] Ibid., 81 says there are 18 variations of the phrase.

[13] Literally means “pounding place.” Robertson suggests this is indeed all of Judah, which was surrounded by hills and could thus be pictured as a “mortar.”

Posted: November 1, 2014 
Filed under: Spiritual, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship
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