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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 1:10-13 (ESV)

Posted on May 28, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:10-13 (ESV) - “On that day,” declares the LORD,
    “a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
    a loud crash from the hills.
Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar!
    For all the traders are no more;
    all who weigh out silver are cut off.
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The LORD will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’
Their goods shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.”

Question to consider: What do you think people would say today about Zephaniah for delivering the LORD’s word of destruction to an eight-year-old king Josiah?

In Zephaniah’s vision of the day of the LORD which was coming upon Israel, the LORD declared in today’s passage that all of Jerusalem would be laid waste. The Fish Gate was located in the Northwest corner of the city and opened to the temple mount. The Second Quarter was the section of the city just south of the temple which contained the royal palace. The inhabitants of Mortar (Maktesh in the KJV) was a reference to the lower half of the city south of the Second Quarter where the tradesmen did business in Jerusalem.

Thus the LORD expressed to Zephaniah that the entire city would be laid waste. The LORD professing to search Jerusalem with lamps was an image of there being no place to hide. The LORD would make sure that all who were complacent would be judged.

Those who say in their hearts, “The LORD will not do good, nor will He do ill,” were justifying their own wickedness because they denied that the LORD would do anything about it. It is similar to someone today who profits off of sin because if they didn’t, someone else would. Denying the coming judgment of the LORD was every bit as foolish as the one who said in his heart, “There is no God.”

We live in a time when the innocent are made to suffer, and the guilty are set free. To many, the very idea of God punishing sin is considered unloving. We live in a time when things that are explicitly described as abominable in scripture are addressed with the serpent’s question, “Did God really say?” 

Think about the reaction people would have today against Zephaniah for relaying the LORD’s word to a young king Josiah. They would call it child abuse to tell him that God would lay waste the Second Quarter where he lived or that being complacent like his father, Amon, would result in the destruction of Israel. People would chastise Zephaniah and say, “How dare you use religion to manipulate a child and scare him into tearing down the statues and tributes to the worship culture of other nations! You must be a racist!”

However, the historical record justified Zephaniah, for Josiah’s repentance brought about another forty years of peace in Israel, and the renewed sin of Jehoiakim resulted in its utter destruction by the Babylonians.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for those who are willing to proclaim the truth of Your word in love so that some will turn back to You and be spared from the judgment that is to come. May we recognize that Christ Jesus is the name that is above every name and seek to be a citizen of His kingdom that has no end. Amen.