The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday comes from the prophet Zephaniah and is written in the Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets). The text is Zephaniah 1:7-16 and, once again, the “Day of the LORD” is the subject of these verses. As discussed last week when we looked at the prophet Amos, the “Day of the LORD” will not be what people are expecting. The Day of the LORD expectations varied greatly from group to group, age to age. We run into these various expectations in the pages of the New Testament as Jesus addresses His disciples and chastises both Pharisees and Sadducees. “No man knows the hour or the day…,” of the “Day of the LORD,” nor do they know what it will look like and what it will all mean. Yet, it is misrepresented and misunderstood by the religious powers that be. Even the grassroots, common folk have their own thoughts and traditions. Going back, it was the same at the time of Zephaniah—going forward, it remains the same among the people of our day.

In the time of Zephaniah, however, there was an additional complication—first coming or second coming? As we look at our verses this remains the challenge; first coming or second coming… or is it both? The first verse (verse 7) certainly begs the question. If the guests are made holy by a sacrifice, and the invitation is to the, “Marriage Feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7), then we can see both comings of Christ reflected in these prophetic words. Also note the similarities to the “Wedding Feast/Banquet Parables” in the New Testament.

If the guests are made holy by a sacrifice, and the invitation is to the, “Marriage Feast of the Lamb,” then we can see both comings of Christ reflected in these prophetic words.

1:7 הַס (has) “hush; keep silent; be silent”

קָרוֹב (ka-rOv) “near; close”

אֲדֹנָי יְהוה (a-do-Nai Yah-weh) Literally: “The Lord of the LORD”; frequently translated as, “The LORD God.”

הִקְדִּישׁ (hik-Dish) root: קדשׁ (kaw-dash) Hiphil: “to be holy”, “to cause to be holy; to make holy” An action carried out by God.

1:8 וּפָקַדְתִּי (u-fa-kad-Ti) root: פקד (paw-kad) Qal: “to visit; to remember” The idea here is the visiting/bringing of punishment.

מַלְבּוּשׁ נָכְרִי (mal-Bush na-che-Ri) “foreign robe; foreign attire”

1:9 הַדּוֹלֵג (had-do-leg) root: דלג (daw-lag) Qal: “to leap”

הַמִּפְתָּן (ham-mif-Tan) “doorstep; lower sill; threshold”

חָמָס (cha-Mas) “violence; wrong”

וּמִרְמָה (u-mir-Mah) “deceit; treachery; trick; fraud”

1:10 צְעָקָה (tze-a-Kah) “cry (loudly); yelling; screaming”

וִילָלָה (vi-la-Lah) “howling; wailing”

הַמִּשְׁנֶה (ham-mish-Neh) “second quarter” A reference to a section of the City of Jerusalem.

וְשֶׁבֶר (ve-She-ver) “crash (crashing); collapsing”

מֵהַגְּבָעוֹת ‘(me-hag-ge-va) “hill; height”

1:11 הֵילִילוּ (hei-Li-lu) root: ילל (yaw-lal) Hiphil: “to howl; to lament; to wail”

הַמַּכְתֵּשׁ (ham-mach-Tesh) “hollow; shallow place; mortar”

נִדְמָה (nid-Mah) root: דמה (daw-mam) Niphal: “to be cut off; to be destroyed; to be ruined”

נְטִילֵי (ne-Ti-lei) “weighing out”

1:12 אֲחַפֵּשֹ (a-chap-Pes) root: חפשֹ (khaw-fas) Piel: “to search; to search through”

בַּנֵּרוֹת (ban-ne-Rot) from: נֵר (neer) “light; lamp”

הַקֹּפְאִים (hak-ko-fe-Im) root: קפא (kaw-faw) Qal, participle: “to thicken” “the ones who thicken” followed by

שִׁמְרֵיהֶם (shim-rei-Hem) “dregs of wine” This phrase is often translated as “complacent ones” perhaps with the understanding of waiting around, not caring, not doing; as in waiting for wine to age.

יָרֵעַ (ya-Re-a) root: רעע (raw-ah) Hiphil: “to treat badly; to do evil; to hurt; to cause injury”

1:13 לִמְשִׁסָּה (lim-shis-Sah) “booty; plunder”

לִשְׁמָמָה (lish-ma-Mah) “devastation; waste; deserted”

וְנָטְעוּ (ve-na-te-U) root: נטר (naw-tah) Qal: “to plant”

1:14 קָרוֹב (ka-Rov) “near; close”

וּמַהֵר (u-ma-Her) Piel: “to hasten; to make haste”

צֹרֵחַ (tzo-Re-ach) Qal: “to shout; to scream out; to cry out”

1:15 צָרָה (tza-Rah) “distress; anxiety; trouble”

וּמְצוּקָה (u-me-tzu-Kah) “distress; straits (dire)”

שֹׁאָה (sho-Ah) “devastation; destruction”

וּמְשׁוֹאָה (u-me-sho-Ah) “desolation; wasteland”

וַאֲפֵלָה (va-a-fe-Lah) “(deep) darkness”

וַעֲרָפֶל (va-a-ra-Fel) “thick darkness; heavy cloud”

*Obviously, the Day of the LORD looks frightening according to the words of Zephaniah the prophet. The question is: “For whom?”

1:16 שׁוֹפָר (sho-Far) “horn (ram’s horn)” Used for warning but also as a call to battle and a call to worship.

הַבְּצֻרִוֹת (hab-be-tzu-Rot) root: בצר (baw-tsar) Qal: “to cut off; to make inaccessible; to fortify; to enclose”

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Zephaniah 1:7-16.

Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Zephaniah 1:7-16.

Lectionary Podcast-Dr. Jeffrey Pulse of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Zephaniah 1:7-16.