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Bible Study: Amon/Josiah/Zephaniah 1-2

by PastorWilliams on September 18th, 2013

King Amon of Judah

2 Chronicles 33:21-25 Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. And his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his house. But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon. And the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place.

2 Kings 21:19-26 Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. He walked in all the way in which his father walked and served the idols that his father served and worshiped them. He abandoned the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. And the servants of Amon conspired against him and put the king to death in his house. But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place. Now the rest of the acts of Amon that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And he was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza, and Josiah his son reigned in his place.

Amon, the son of Manasseh, reigned from 642 to 640 BC. He began where Manasseh in his most vile sat and went further in his own evils (2 Chronicles 33:22). He would not humble himself as Manasseh had (2 Chronicles 33:23). His servants conspired against him and killed him (2 Chronicles 33:24). The people of the land rose up and executed the conspirators (2 Chronicles 33:25). Amon was buried alongside his father in the garden of Uzza (2 Kings 21:26).

King Josiah of Judah

Josiah, the son of Amon, reigned in Judah from 640 to 608 BC. He walked in the ways of King David, not his father (2 Chronicles 34:2). At age sixteen, he began to purge the land of Judah of all the abominations that his father and grandfather (and generations before them) had placed in the kingdom (2 Chronicles 34:3-7).

While he was twenty-six, Josiah ordered the Temple to be repaired. While the Temple was being repaired, High Priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law that Moses had given to the people (2 Chronicles 34:8-21).

When Josiah has the Book of the Law read to him, he rends his clothes and has Hilkiah inquire of the Lord for him. A two-part answer returns from Huldah the prophetess:

  • Great and horrible disaster was coming upon Judah because of their sins (2 Chronicles 34:22-25).
  • Because of his tender heart, Josiah would die before the disaster came upon Judah (2 Chronicles 34:26-28).

In keeping his covenant, Josiah read the newly-found Book of the Law and ordered the Passover to be kept at its normal time. The chronicler tells us that no Passover had been kept like this since the days of Samuel–500 years earlier (2 Chronicles 35:1-19).

Josiah is killed in a battle between Pharaoh Neco and Carchemish that didn’t involve him (2 Chronicles 35:20-23). Jeremiah the prophet, early in his ministry, lamented the king’s death (2 Chronicles 35:25).

The Prophet Zephaniah

Chapter 1

1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

Zephaniah’s name means “servant of the LORD.” His message is described at the very beginning of the prophecy as “The Word of the LORD”. Its authority comes directly from God. What we know about Zephaniah’s time is that it is during the reign of King Josiah of Judah. Zephaniah’s genealogy goes back to King Hezekiah of Judah. As Hezekiah’s great-great-grandson, Zephaniah would see the debauchery of the kingdom. He would be one prophet that the people would respect because he was of the royal family.
If Zephaniah prophesied early in Josiah’s reign, he might have been a leading influence behind Josiah’s purging of the idols from Judah. If he prophesied in the latter part of Josiah’s reign, it shows the corrupt nature of man as even a reformed and faithful people may relapse back into their previous sins.

1:2-6  “I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.”

Zephaniah begins his prophecy by equating the captivity of Judah into Babylon with the destruction of everything at the end of the age. The inhabitants of Jerusalem want things both ways with religion. They want to worship God as Josiah wishes, but they also want to have other gods as well. Breaking the First Commandment. God punishes for that Commandment more harshly than any other.

1:7-9  Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests. And on the day of the LORD’s sacrifice– “I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire. On that day I will punish everyone who leaps over the threshold, and those who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud.

God prepares the sacrifice of Jesus for the sanctification of believers and the punishment of unbelievers. On Good Friday, those invited to the eternal feast in Heaven are consecrated by the crucifixion. Those who would not believe are punished. “The officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire” greatly symbolizes the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees and Herodians of Jesus’ day.
Because of Judah’s sin, God declared a day for their destruction and captivity in Babylon. “The day of the LORD” is an ominous phrase notable especially in Zephaniah’s prophecies and later. The sacrifices will be gone on that day because everything will be silenced before God by God. The day continues to be described throughout the rest of this chapter as a very frightful day that is hastening fast (v14).

1:10-13  “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.”

Complacency is the key sin of Judah. They took their place before God as His chosen people for granted. God would search the whole city to find those who will be punished for their sins.

1:14-16  The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.

The fact that “the day of the LORD” is hastening fast lends credibility to the idea that Zephaniah’s prophecy belongs in the latter part of Josiah’s reign. However, the words can also be taken as a warning that led the young king on his crusade to reform Judah into a God-pleasing people again. 
Zephaniah’s words still have meaning today as we look towards the end of this age. “The day of the LORD” will be a bitter day for those who do not believe in Christ. “A day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” for them. But for Christians, it will be a glorious day as the Son of God returns to the earth to bring us to our eternal home.

1:17-18  I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Nothing will be able to deliver anyone from “the day of the LORD.” Everything will be consumed and all mankind will be brought before the judgment seat of Christ.

Chapter 2

2:1-4  Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect –before the day passes away like chaff– before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. For Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation; Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon, and Ekron shall be uprooted.

God calls the Philistines together. They are even called to seek the LORD and humble themselves before Him. Otherwise, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron–four of the five major Philistine cities–would be destroyed without humble repentance. The repentant would be hidden on the day of God’s wrath, much like we sing in Rock of Ages. God will hide us in the cleft of His Rock when He comes to judge the earth.

2:5-7  Woe to you inhabitants of the seacoast, you nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines; and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left. And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures, with meadows for shepherds and folds for flocks. The seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant of the house of Judah, on which they shall graze, and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God will be mindful of them and restore their fortunes.

Without repentance, the coastland territory of the Philistines would be given to the remnant of Judah. This has sparked the many wars in the Middle East over the Gaza Strip. This is part of God’s promise to the Old Testament remnant to live. Therefore modern-day Zionists believe that it should be kept under Jewish authority. God uses Zephaniah to prophesy that God’s people will be delivered from their enemies and triumph in Christ.

2:8-11  “I have heard the taunts of Moab and the revilings of the Ammonites, how they have taunted my people and made boasts against their territory. Therefore, as I live,” declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Moab shall become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.” This shall be their lot in return for their pride, because they taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be awesome against them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth, and to him shall bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations.

Zephaniah shifts from the long-time enemies of Israel to those who were off-and-on allies. The Moabites and Ammonites are distant cousins of the Israelites. Both of the nations came from the incestuous relationships that Lot’s daughters had with him after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). Lot was Abraham’s nephew.
The Moabites and the Ammonites taunt Judah as Nebuchadnezzar invades and conquers Jerusalem (Ezekiel 25). Ezekiel echoes Zephaniah’s prophecies that Moab and Ammon will be destroyed because of their cheering for Judah’s conquest.

2:12-15  You also, O Cushites, shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert. Herds shall lie down in her midst, all kinds of beasts; even the owl and the hedgehog shall lodge in her capitals; a voice shall hoot in the window; devastation will be on the threshold; for her cedar work will be laid bare. This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, “I am, and there is no one else.” What a desolation she has become, a lair for wild beasts! Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist.

Zephaniah turns to Cush and Assyria in his destructive prophecies. Cush, often an ally for both Egypt and Assyria against each other, would be destroyed in battle. God will also make Nineveh, capital of Assyria, a desolation and habitation for wild animals. Nineveh had boasted of its supremacy. Soon it will no longer exist.

From → Thru the Bible

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