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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 3:6-10 (ESV)

Posted on June 03, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:6-10 (ESV) - “I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
    you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
    according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD,
    “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
    all the earth shall be consumed.

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD
    and serve him with one accord.
From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
    shall bring my offering.

Question to consider: Why does the LORD want us to fear Him?

The LORD had spoken through Zephaniah about the judgments that were coming upon Judah and its once holy city, Jerusalem. The LORD even proclaimed that He would one day judge the nations surrounding Judah and allow a remnant of Israel to come back into the land.

All of these things were ordained by the LORD so that Israel would accept His correction and fear Him. This idea of “fearing” the LORD is best understood by whom they would serve. If they feared the gods of the nations, they would do the things that pleased the world. If they feared the LORD, they would cherish His Law. That which comes from the LORD brings life and salvation whereas that which comes from the world and its false gods ultimately brings suffering and death (even if it is initially disguised in pleasure).

Instead of choosing life and salvation, the LORD said they would be all the more eager to make all their deeds corrupt. He would therefore bring judgment upon the entire world. While this could definitely be a reference to the judgment that will come upon the world at the return of Christ, I actually think this is a prophecy concerning the rise of the Greek and Roman empires which would have dominion over the whole world.

These two empires were depicted as two terrifying beasts in visions given to Daniel, and they paved the way for what the LORD was about to do next. As terrible as these nations were in conquering the earth, the Greek empire led by Alexander the Great brought Hellenistic culture to the world and united everyone with one language.

The Law of God was given in Hebrew and was meant to set them apart unto God. They were to initially be the sword of God, purging the sinful nations out of the land so that all nations would know and fear the LORD. Rather than being separate from the nations, Israel became one of them and worshiped after their false gods. So the LORD declared that He would change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.

The Greek and Roman empires united the world in this way and paved the way for the gospel— even “from beyond the rivers of Cush.” The rest of the prophecy given to Zephaniah would be fulfilled in Christ and bring hope and salvation to the world. I would argue that all of the prophetic visions given in the Old Testament expressed the judgments that were coming and the hope of Christ who would fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that he would be a blessing to the nations.

We can also look at the LORD’s promise of a “pure language” to be the reversal of the curse given at the tower of Babel in which the LORD confused the languages and scattered the people over the face of the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9) This brings to mind when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, and the people all understood the preaching of the apostles in their own native tongue. (Acts 2:1-11)

All of these things point to a day in which there will be no more sin and death, and we will all be united in Christ. I don’t know what the language will be at that time, but we can be sure that everyone in Christ’s kingdom will be able to freely and joyfully communicate with the LORD and one another.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the promise of salvation in Christ hundreds and even thousands of years before He came. Now that Christ has fulfilled this promise, we ask that You use us to bring this good news to our families and friends. Amen.