What Does Zephaniah 1:18 Mean?

Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Zephaniah 1:18(NASB)
Picture courtesy of Piotr Siedlecki

Verse Thoughts

God was not surprised when Adam sinned, nor was He taken aback when idolatrous Israel rebelled. Jesus was destined to be the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, and chose us, in Christ, (i.e. the Church) to be His children. He also chose Israel to be His covenant people, through whom the Messiah would be born. To them belong the adoption; the glory; the covenants; the giving of the Law; the worship and the promises - and holy men of Israel penned the Scriptures for our learning.

God knew Israel would reject their Messiah from the beginning, which is why prophets foretold of both His first advent - when He came as the suffering Servant, and His second coming - when He will return as Israel's conquering King. God knows the end from the beginning, which is why He spoke through men like Daniel, Hosea, Micah and Zephaniah, detailing circumstances in Israel's immediate future, as well as events surrounding His forthcoming appearances as their Messiah-King. 

The Word of the Lord through Zephaniah declared the horror of God's coming judgement on Judah, Jerusalem, the surrounding nations and the entire earth. His urgent message called Jewish and Gentile idolators; princes; oppressors and merchants  to repent of their wicked way. It was also a summons to the humble of heart to seek the Lord while He may be found, for God will never forget His covenanted mercy towards Israel.

Not only is God's impending judgement on Judah and Jerusalem pictured here, when Nebuchadnezzar invaded invaded the beautiful land, seized the silver and golden implements in the Temple and carried away Israel's sons into slavery, but Zephaniah also pronounces the coming Day of the Lord's universal punishment of the whole earth, when he writes: Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the LORD'S wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end - indeed, a terrifying end of all the inhabitants of all the earth.

There are many scriptures that speak of the coming Day of the Lord, when God's wrath will be poured out on a God-hating; Christ-rejecting sinful world. On that day, all satanic schemes; the wicked plots that have been hatched; the evil that has been perpetrated; the gold and silver that has been accumulated and man's adulterous and arrogant resistance to God's perfect plan, will be unable to save them from the wrath of God.

Zephaniah's succinct prophecy presents a weight of evidence of the terrible wrath that is to come upon the whole earth. It is a serious warning to all who think their intellect, riches or status will safeguard them from the wrath that is to come. Neither their silver nor gold will deliver them on that day - a time which stretches from the start of Daniel's 70th week to the end of the millennial reign of Christ.

The Lord is a consuming fire, and a day is coming when the entire earth will be devoured in the fires of His righteous anger - for the Lord jealously guards His character and will make a complete and terrifying end, of all the inhabitants of the earth, who reject His offer of salvation - and Jesus Christ, Whom He has sent.

Zephaniah's serious warning should also admonish all who know the truth of the gospel of grace, not to be indecisive but to turn from their sin; seek the Lord while He may be found and not delay their decision, for the word of the Lord is true and altogether righteous, and a day is coming when He will sit on His great white throne of judgement to judge all the unbelieving inhabitants of the earth.

But for the little remnant of Israel, who trust in the Lord and hold fast to the many Messianic promises, the words of Zephaniah should be an encouragement, for despite all the wickedness and evil that is manufactured by sinful men, and the fires of God's wrath that will come upon the whole earth, he writes that God will one day remove His hand of judgement from His chosen nation - and as King of Israel, will live among His people; calm them in His love and rejoice over them with singing.

As members of Christ's body there is much that we can learn from the book of Zephaniah for we are equally precious in His sight. But let us be careful not to fall into ungodly ways; become arrogant in our attitudes; fearful of the world's evil or reliant on our own resources - our wealth, status, intellect or strength. May we trust His Word and recognise His mercy towards us day by day,, for it is new every morning - great is His faithfulness.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, what a gracious God You are and full of mercy, for although Your people broke their covenant, rebelled against You and become an idolatrous nation, You purposed in Your heart to fulfil all the promises You made to their fathers in the wilderness. Thank You that You are not only a God of love and mercy but also a God of justice, judgement and a consuming fire, Who will one day rid this fallen world of all the evil that has been perpetrated against You and against Your people. Thank You that in wrath You have promised to remember mercy and that Your goodness and grace is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness and we love You Lord, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

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