The message of Zephaniah (whose name signifies "Yah has treasured" or "Yah hath hidden") is an appeal to faithfulness, whilst showing publicly the sins of the people of Judah in the times of Josiah.*
Why Jerusalem must be punished: vv. 1-7.
1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!
2 She [Jerusalem] obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in Yahweh; she drew not near to her Elohim.
So there were no praises in Judah suitable for Yahweh's pleasure; no sacrifices acceptable, for "every man did that which was right in his own eyes"...The prophet sees a Jerusalem that has forgotten its Husband, and has sought after other lovers; the people compromised the Truth, and let worldliness enter into the sphere of their experiences.*
3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.
4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
Though Josiah urged the ecclesia to uphold divine doctrine and practice, they conveniently ignored the words of Yahweh, preferring to indulge themselves in their own activities (as Moses said in Deu. 12:8 and the wise man in Pro. 12:15).
Beyond the days of Josiah, they were without a faithful King, Governor or True Leader, and therefore governed themselves, resulting in the sad summery of v 1-7*
5 The just Yahweh is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.
6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.
7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.
There was a deliberate ignoring of their responsibility, such as was repeated in the Laodicean ecclesia (Rev. 3:15).*
The Purging of Evil and the Conversion of the people: vv. 8-10
8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith Yahweh, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Yahweh, to serve him with one consent.
An universal jubilee will celebrate the admiration of mankind and their devotion to the King of all the earth. The world will no more resound with wars' alarms for a thousand years; and among the highest there will be glory to God, on the earth there will be peace and good-will among men (Luke 2:14) The mission of the Lord's Christ will have been gloriously fulfilled.
He will have raised up the tribes of Jacob, restored the preserved of Israel, and been the salvation of Yahweh to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6). In his days there will be abundance of peace; for the nations will beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into scythes, and practise war no more.
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem" as the metropolis of the world; "neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil "heart " (Jer. 3:17).
The things they delight in will then be an abomination to them; for
"the Gentiles shall come unto the Lord from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things in which there is no profit" (Jer. 16:19).
When enlightened by the Lord this will be their judgment of the "names and denominations," pagan, mohammedan, papal, and protestant, which now as a covering veil spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7), darken their understandings, and alienate them from the life of God.
But when the King of Israel and his Saints shall rule the world, all these superstitions will be for ever abolished, and mankind will be of one faith and practice. They will speak one religious language, and serve Yahweh with unanimity; for, says he,
"Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord with one consent " (Zeph. 3:9).
This must, indeed, be the Lord's doings, for who among men has the wisdom, knowledge, and power to bring the nations to speak intelligibly on religious subjects, and to be of one religion! The sword only can prepare the way for this. Mankind must be made to
"lick the dust like a serpent,"
before they will consent to change their creeds for eternal truth. Judgment will bring them to reason, and they will say at length,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).
Under such teaching as this the work will be accomplished.
As to Israel, the Lord will have gotten them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame; and have made them a name and a praise among all the people of the earth (Zeph. 3:19,20).
"All nations shall call them blessed, for they shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:12).
Elpis Israel 3.6.
For then will I turn to the people(s) (plur.) a pure language (lip) - Hb barar = pure, purge These two ideas show that this pure language or lip is associated with purification and purging, in the day of great purging. Language is impure when it is of the flesh, when it is carnal, or polluted by sin, idolatry or blasphemy, false doctrine of Apostasy, lies and things of no profit (Eph.414, Jer.16;19)
This is the present situation throughout the earth, a polluted tongue, language, lip, communications, words, all corrupt, of the Diabolos (Jhn 8.44)
This was the case with the one language of Gen.11, established at Babel. Yahweh confounded the tongues and gave the earth a babel of different impure tongues or confusion. So that they could not readily unite as one, as the humanists of today are trying to do with their One World Socialism.
Yahweh will confound, and smash all this at Christ's return, and put in its place the pure language of the Truth and of the Jews language (Hebrew )(1s.36.11, ls.19.18).
"There is that speaketh like the piercings a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of Truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment."
Hebrew, not English, Latin or Greek, will be the official tongue or language of communication of the Hebrew monarchy under Christ.
Bro Richard Lister -
The Apocalyptic Messenger, Jan 2016
What is that language you ask? Undoubtedly the language given to Adam in the Garden, believed to be Hebrew, the language of the Scriptures, for the verse goes on to say
"that they may all call upon the name of Yahweh."
It is said that the divine Name is appropriate to the language of Hebrew rather than any of the tongues of the Gentiles. Yahweh has manifested Himself to His people through Hebrew at the Burning Bush (see Deu. 28:10). It will then be painstakingly obvious that any restoration is of God and not by the hands or word of flesh.
According to the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, all the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are contained in this one verse 9 of Zephaniah 3! By doing this, Zephaniah points to a time when all the nations of the world will speak the "pure language" of Hebrew. *
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.
The visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon throws light upon a very interesting incident that occurred in Apostolic times. Solomon solved all her questions, and it is very probable gave her a copy of "the Law and Testimony," by which a knowledge of the God of Israel was carried into her own land. This circumstance proved highly beneficial in after-times.
The country of the Queen here named is generally supposed to have been Meroe, in Ethiopia, a district abounding in gold and spices, and accustomed, it appears from Acts viii. 27, to be governed by women.
"And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert."
"And he arose and went and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning; and sitting in his chariot, read Esaias the prophet."
The coming of the eunuch to Jerusalem to worship was predicted by the prophet Zephaniah.
"From beyond the river of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering."
The eunuch filled an office under Candace, similar to that now held by Lord Aberdeen under Victoria; he was prime minister, or what we now call First Lord of the Treasury. Philip preached unto him the Evangelium von Jesu, (Gospel of Jesus,) and by him a knowledge of the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, were carried into his native land, and promulgated to his country.
"Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called."
But there have always been some, and the eunuch is of the number.
Herald of the kingdom and age to come, Dec 1854
Israel shamed and sanctified: vv. 11-13
11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.
12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of Yahweh.
13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
Israel comforted, blessed and exalted vv. 14-20
14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
15 Yahweh hath taken away thy judgments [The Assyrian], he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even Yahweh, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
17 Yahweh thy Elohim in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith Yahweh.
The Good Shepherd is seen bringing his flock into the fold, naming each one as did Adam in the Garden of Delights, and causing Israel to become a praise in all the earth. This will be done before all mankind, so that all will see Yahweh's purpose with Israel down the centuries, now to be vindicated to the honour of His great name. *- GEM, Logos.