The LORD’s Day of Wrath
Last chance to return to God1Gather around, people.
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
2Get your act together while you can,
Before you blow away like wheat chaff in the wind,
Before the angry LORD comes
On the LORD’s Day of Wrath.
3Get back on track obeying the LORD.
I’m talking to all of you humble enough to follow the law,
And to live as good people with a sense of humility.
Maybe the LORD will find a place to hide you,
And protect you from the wrath of Judgment Day.
Philistine towns will empty4Gaza and Ashkelon will become ghost towns,
Destroyed, abandoned, ruined.
Ashdod’s people will run away,
Driven out of town in broad daylight.
Ekron will be torn from the ground and dropped to the dirt.
5Bad news for those on the coast,
Cheroth and Philistine, enemies of the LORD.
I’ll destroy all of you Philistines in Canaan.
Not one of you will survive.
6What’s left of the seacoast
Will be meadows and pasture,
Food for the flocks of simple shepherds.
7Survivors from Judah will claim the coast,
A new acquisition for the family.
They’ll graze their livestock along the shore
And sleep at night in Ashkelon homes.
The LORD their God won’t forget them.
He’ll give them back what they lost.
Moab & Ammon the next Sodom & Gomorrah8I heard Moab insult my people.
I heard the Ammonites, too.
They ridiculed and bad-mouthed
My people and my land.
Then they bragged themselves up.
9So, as sure as I live, says the LORD of all,
They’ll die like Sodom and Gomorrah.
They’ll leave a land laid waste
In salt pits and briars.
Survivors among my people
Will take what you left
And keep what they found.
10So, that’s what you get
As payback for pride,
And for brags and insults
Against the people of God
—The LORD of all who exist.
Coasts and deserts will bow to God11When the LORD flexes the strength of his wrath,
All gods of this world will shrivel in fear,
All nations of the coast will bow to him.
Every man in his home will drop to the floor.
12Ethiopian people will die where they live.
I’ll kill them with my sword.
Nineveh, a desolate wasteland13Then I’ll stretch north and take Nineveh
And all the rest of Assyria.
I’ll drain their land desert dry,
And leave it desolate, dead, and wasted.
14Animals will move in and take control,
Every kind of animal around.
Desert owls and screech owls
Roosting on pillars
And hooting from windows,
While ravens shout gurgling croaks
From doorways stripped of their wood.
15This is magnificent Nineveh,
Secure in strength and self-confidence.
They said, “I am. There’s no one else.”
No one else that matters.”
It’s unclear who the Cheroth, also known as the Cherethites, represented. Some say it’s a nickname for the Philistines. Some add that it refers to the people of Crete, which may have been the original home of the Philistines before they migrated to Canaan, in what are now Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories. In about the 1200s BC, the Philistines, a fierce fighting people, settled in the area with migrating invaders known as Sea Peoples. They apparently came from islands or coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea, possibly neighboring Crete.
Cush, also known as Nubia and Ethiopia, was a region along the Nile River south of Egypt, in what is now Sudan. The Nubian Desert lay just beyond the few miles of fertile land alongside the river. But most people lived on that narrow stretch of fertile land beside the river, then as now.
Nineveh in what is now Mosul, Iraq, was capital of the Assyrian Empire. Babylonians from what is now southern Iraq conquered the Assyrians.
“I Am” is the name of God. That’s what God told Moses when Moses asked for his name in Exodus 3. In the original Hebrew language, Exodus 3:14, God said “Hāyâ (I AM) ᵃšer (WHO) Hāyâ (I AM). Some translations render it “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE,” or “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.” Some scholars say this isn’t really God’s name. They say it’s a description of his name. His name is “I AM,” YAHWEH (YAH way) in Hebrew. God’s cryptic description of his name hints that who he is and what he is like will become obvious when people start seeing what God does. In the story of Moses, God would soon step into their lives in such dramatic ways that generations to come would commemorate them in sacred events such as the Passover sedar meal, which celebrates God freeing the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12). Here in Zephaniah, God seems to say the Assyrians are too proud of themselves, and that they think of themselves as godlike and all-powerful. God seems to hint that he’ll soon introduce them to southerners: Babylon.
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