1Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, 2before 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. 3Seek 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.
The Story: After Yahweh has described His coming Day, his prophet Zephaniah speaks to the people. When he calls them to “gather together,” he doesn’t use a word that speaks of gathering for worship. Rather, he uses a word used for gathering straw or wood (cf. Exodus 5:7). In the face of the coming judgment of fire (v. 18), Judah is like flammable straw ready to be consumed. When Zephaniah calls them a “shameless nation,” he employs a word usually restricted to Gentile nations. By conforming to the world, they have largely lost their identity as Yahweh’s people. This call to gathering is an implicit call to self-examination before the Day of the Lord – a day coming upon them with “the burning anger of the LORD.” How should they respond to this warning? The prophet speaks to the “humble of the land, who do his just commands.” Here is the first gleam of grace through the gloom. Despite the presence of many who had rejected Yahweh (1:6), there was still a humble and obedient remnant in the land. They are called to “seek the LORD,” to “seek righteousness,” and to “seek humility.” This is what believers are always called to do, and Zephaniah reminds us that we are called to live for the Lord no matter what those around us are doing. The prophet held out hope for true believers in his day that “perhaps [they] may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.” This isn’t an absolute promise that they would be spared. When Yahweh’s judgment falls on a nation, the righteous often suffer alongside the unrighteous. Nevertheless, those who could not hide from Yahweh (1:12) might yet be hidden by Him. This is the sure and certain Christian hope in the face of final judgment. What we cannot do for ourselves, God does for us. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Colossae, “[Y]our life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). To the believing remnant in every age, the Lord says to seek Him and live for Him with hope that He will hide them in the day of His anger. Such is our calling and our hope today.
The Structure: Zephaniah uses key words to structure this passage as a triple warning followed by a triple command. The warning is built around three successive uses of the word “before” in reference to the coming
Whatever those around you may be doing today, commit yourself to seeking the Lord, seeking righteousness, and seeking humility. Find hope in the One who can hide you in the day of His anger.
Day of the Lord. (Note: The ESV has “before” four times, but the second does not reflect the same word in the Hebrew original.) Then the command is built around three uses of the word “seek.” If the triple warning gives cause to fear, the triple command provides a reason and a pathway to hope for the remnant.
For more insight to the prophet Micah, order the book, The Minor Prophets, Vol. 2: Micah-Malachi, by James Montgomery Boice, from our online store.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.