Zephaniah 1:7
Hold your peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, he has bid his guests.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 1:7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord — Keep silence in token of an awful reverence toward God. For the day of the Lord is at hand — Now he is coming to execute his judgments upon the land. Humble thyself under his mighty hand, without repining or murmuring at his corrections, which thy sins do so justly deserve. For the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice — The slaughter of the wicked is called a sacrifice, because it is, in some sense, an atonement to God’s justice. He hath bid his guests — This is an allusion to the custom of those who offered sacrifices, which was to invite their friends to partake of the feasts which accompanied them. So here God is said to invite his guests, that is, the Babylonians, who were to reap the spoils of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, and of the desolation of Judea: or, as some explain it, the guests may mean ravenous birds, wild beasts, and dogs, collected to devour the carcasses of the slain.1:7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God - (Literally, "Hush," in awe "from the face of God.") In the presence of God, even the righteous say from their inmost heart, "I am vile, what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth" Job 40:4. "Now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" Job 42:5-6. "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified" Psalm 143:2. How much more must the "man without the wedding garment be speechless" Matthew 22:11-12, and every false plea, with which he deceived himself, melt away before the Face of God! The voice of God's Judgment echoes in every heart, "we indeed justly" Luke 23:41.

For the Day of the Lord is at hand - Zephaniah, as is his custom, grounds this summons, which he had renewed from Habakkuk, to hushed silence before God, on Joel's prophetic warning , to show that it was not yet exhausted. A day of the Lord, of which Joel warned, had come and was gone; but it was only the herald of many such days; judgments in time, heralds and earnests, and, in their degree, pictures of the last which shall end time.

Dionysius: "All time is God's, since He Alone is the Lord of time; yet that is specially said to be His time when He doth anything special. Whence He saith, "My time is not yet come" John 7:6; whereas all time is His." The Day of the Lord is, in the first instance, Jerome: "the day of captivity and vengeance on the sinful people," as a forerunner of the Day of Judgment, or the day of death to each, for this too is near, since, compared to eternity, all the time of this world is brief.

For the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice - God had rejected sacrifices, offered amid unrepented sin; they were "an abomination to Him" Isaiah 1:11-15. When man will not repent and offer himself as "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" Romans 12:1, God, at last, rejects all other outward oblations, and the sinner himself is the sacrifice and victim of his own sins. The image was probably suggested by Isaiah's words, "The Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea" Isaiah 34:6; and Jeremiah subsequently uses it of the overthrow of Pharaoh at the Euphrates, "This is the day of the Lord of Hosts; that He may avenge Him of His adversaries, for the Lord God hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates" Jeremiah 46:10. "The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea even the wicked for the day of evil" Proverbs 16:4. All must honor God, either fulfilling the will of God and the end of their own being and of His love for them, by obeying that loving will with their own freewill, or, if they repudiate it to the end, by suffering it.

He hath bid His guests - (Literally, sanctified) God had before, by Isaiah, called the pagan whom He employed to punish Babylon, "My sanctified ones" Isaiah 13:3. Zephaniah, by giving the title to God's instruments against Judah, declares that themselves, having become in deeds like the pagan, were as pagan to Him. The instruments of His displeasure, not they, were so far his chosen, His called. Jeremiah repeats the saying, "Thus saith the Lord against the house of the king of Judah;...I have sanctified against thee destroyers, a man and his weapons" Jeremiah 22:6-7. That is, so far, a holy war in the purpose of God, which fulfills His will; from where Nebuchadnezzar was "His servant" Jeremiah 25:9, avenging His wrongs . Cyril: "To be sanctified, here denotes not the laying aside of iniquity, nor the participation of the Holy Spirit, but, as it were, to be foreordained and chosen to the fulfillment of this end." That is in a manner hallowed, which is employed by God for a holy end, though the instrument, its purposes, its aims, its passions, be in themselves unholy. There is an awe about "the scourges of God." As with the lightning and the tornado, there is a certain presence of God with them, in that through them His Righteousness is seen; although they themselves have as little of God as the "wind and storm" which "fulfill His word." Those who were once admitted to make offerings to God make themselves sacrifices to His wrath; these, still pagan and ungodly and in all besides reprobate, are His priests, because in this, although without their will, they do His will.

7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord—(Hab 2:20). Let the earth be silent at His approach [Maurer]. Or, "Thou whosoever hast been wont to speak against God, as if He had no care about earthly affairs, cease thy murmurs and self-justifications; submit thyself to God, and repent in time" [Calvin].

Lord … prepared a sacrifice—namely, a slaughter of the guilty Jews, the victims due to His justice (Isa 34:6; Jer 46:10; Eze 39:17).

bid his guests—literally, "sanctified His called ones" (compare Isa 13:3). It enhances the bitterness of the judgment that the heathen Chaldeans should be sanctified, or consecrated as it were, by God as His priests, and be called to eat the flesh of the elect people; as on feast days the priests used to feast among themselves on the remains of the sacrifices [Calvin]. English Version takes it not of the priests, but the guests bidden, who also had to "sanctify" or purify themselves before coming to the sacrificial feast (1Sa 9:13, 22; 16:5). Nebuchadnezzar was bidden to come to take vengeance on guilty Jerusalem (Jer 25:9).

Hold thy peace; thou that murmurest in discontent, or disputest out of frowardness against God, his worship, and his government, that thinkest of him but little better than of Baal or Malcham, cease all thy quarrels and dispute, stand in awe.

At the presence of the Lord God; who is almighty, omniscient, who ruleth and will avenge.

The day of the Lord; a day of vengeance from the Lord. The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice; the wicked among the Jews, whom he will sacrifice by the Chaldean’s sword.

He hath bid his guests; summoned in beasts of the field and fowls of the air, to eat the flesh and drink the blood of slain Jews, whom the Babylonians slew. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God,.... When he comes forth, and appears in the way of his judgments, do not dispute the point with him, or pretend to offer reasons against his proceedings, or in order to disprove the justice of them; stand in awe and reverence of him, who is the Lord God omniscient and omnipotent, holy, just, and true; humble yourselves under his mighty hand; be still, and know that he is God; and let not one murmuring and repining word come out of your mouth. The Targum is,

"let all the wicked of the earth perish from before the Lord God:''

for the day of the Lord is at hand; the time of his vengeance on the Jewish nation for their sins, which he had fixed in his mind, and had given notice of by his prophets: this began to take place at Josiah's death, after which the Jews enjoyed little peace and prosperity; and his successor reigned but three months, was deposed by the king of Egypt, and carried thither captive, and there died; and Jehoiakim, that succeeded him, in the fourth year of his reign was carried captive into Babylon, or died by the way thither; so that this day might well be said to be at hand:

for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice: his people the Jews, who were to fall a victim to his vengeance, and a sacrifice to his justice, to atone in some measure for the injury done to it by their sins; thus they that had offered sacrifice to idols, and neglected the sacrifices of the Lord, and especially the great sacrifice of Christ typified by them, the only proper atoning one, should themselves become a sacrifice to the just resentment of God; this he had prepared in his mind, determined should be done, and would bring about in his providence; see Isaiah 34:6,

he hath bid his guests: or "called ones" (o); the Chaldeans, whom he invited and called to this sacrifice and feast: or whom he "prepared", or "sanctified" (p); he prepared them in his purpose and providence; he set them apart for this service, and called them to it; to be the sacrificers of this people, and to feast upon them; to spoil them of their goods and riches, and enjoy them. These guests may also design, as Kimchi observes, the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, invited to feast upon the slain; see Ezekiel 39:17.

(o) "vocatos suos", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius; "invitatos suos", Vatablus, Tigurine verson, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius. (p) "praeparavit", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ben Melech; "sanctificavit", V. L. Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius.

Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Hold thy peace … Lord God] lit. the Lord Jehovah. The divine name Jehovah was not pronounced in the synagogue reading, the word Lord (A.V. in that case Lord) being substituted for it; but when the actual word Lord (Adonai) stood beside Jehovah then the reader substituted God (A.V. God) for Jehovah. The prophet vividly realises the presence of Jehovah. He is present in the Day of the Lord which is at hand. And before His presence the prophet exclaims to men, Hush! Habakkuk 2:20, Zechariah 2:13. The “day of the Lord” is not merely some great calamity or judgment which the prophet feels to be impending, it is always Jehovah’s manifestation of Himself in fulness, and the judgment is the final and universal one. The coming of “the day of the Lord” was an ancient idea of the prophets (Hosea 4:3; Isaiah 2:12 ff.) and even of the people (Amos 5:18); it was a belief older than any written prophecy, as the passage in Amos shews, and later prophets (Isaiah 13:6 ff.; Zephaniah 1:7 ff.; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1) only amplify the details of the idea. The presentiment of its nearness, however, was often awakened in the prophet’s mind by severe visitations of providence (Joel), or by great convulsions among the nations (Isaiah 13; Zephaniah 1). Jehovah was so visibly present in these events that the presentiment could not be repressed that they were the tokens and heralds of His final manifestation of Himself, when His glory would be revealed and all flesh should see it together. Of course the prophet’s presentiment was not realised, the impending judgment passed over, and the day of the Lord was delayed. But this fact should not lead us to suppose that the prophets call any great visitation of God by the name of “the day of the Lord.”

prepared a sacrifice] The sacrifice, which is Israel, is slain, and the guests who are to eat of the sacrificial meal are invited. The destruction of Israel is so certain that it is conceived as already accomplished.

He hath bid his guests] lit. he hath consecrated (sanctified) them that are bidden (1 Samuel 9:13). Those bidden are the foes who shall devour Israel. In ancient times slaughter of animals even for food was a kind of sacrificial act, as the blood and part of the flesh were offered to God, and only those who were clean could partake of the sacrificial meal (1 Samuel 20:26); hence some consecration or preparation on the part of the guests was necessary, such as washing the clothes, in order to “sanctify” themselves. The Lord has sanctified His guests who are to eat His sacrifice (Isaiah 13:3). Comp. the same idea Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 39:17, though in Ezek. the guests bidden to the Lord’s sacrifice are the birds of every sort and the beasts of the field. There is a certain inconsistency in the figure: of course the foes are those who slay Israel, the sacrifice, but the figure represents Jehovah as slaying and preparing the sacrifice, which the guests consume. The metaphor shews that some particular assailant of Israel is in the prophet’s view, just as in Isaiah 13:3. See Introduction, § 1.Verses 7-13. - 4. The judgment is described with regard to those whom it will affect, vie. the princes, the traders, the irreligious and profligate. Verse 7. - This judgment, so fearful, is near at hand, and must needs occasion the utmost terror and dismay. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; literally, Hush, from the face of the Lord Jehovah! εὐλαβεῖσθε (Septuagint); silete a facie Domini Dei (Vulgate). The expression is like Habakkuk 2:20. The reason of this silent awe is next given. For the day of the Lord is at hand. The day of judgment is thus called (Joel 1:15; Isaiah 13:6; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15). The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice. The words are from Isaiah 34:6 (comp. Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 39:17, 19). The sacrifice is the guilty Jewish nation. The punishment of the wicked is regarded as a satisfaction offered to the Divine justice. He hath bid his guests; he hath consecrated his called. The "called ones" are the strange nations whom God summons to execute his vengeance. Septuagint, ἡγίακε τοὺς κλητοὺς αὐτοῦ. These are said to be "sanctified," as if engaged in a holy war, when summoned to punish those who had become as heathen. So those who are called to chastise Babylon are termed "my sanctified ones" (Isaiah 13:3), as being the instruments appointed and set apart to carry out this purpose (comp. Jeremiah 22:7; Jeremiah 51:27, 28; Micah 3:5). The particular agents intended are not specified by the prophet, whose mission was not directed to any such definition. He has to speak generally of the judgment to come, not of those whom God should employ to inflict it. We know from other sources that the Chaldeans are meant, they or the Assyrians being always announced as the executors of God's vengeance on his rebellions people. The notion, adopted by Ewald, Hitzig, and others, that the prophet refers to some supposed invasion of Scythians which took place about this time, would never have been started had not such authors desired to eliminate the predictive element from prophetic utterances. The vague account of Herod., 1:105 gives no support to the assertion that the Scythians invaded Palestine in Josiah's reign; nor is there a trace of any knowledge of such irruption in Zephaniah or Jeremiah (see Introduction, § I.). But if Israel conquer the nations in such a way as this, then will Jehovah fulfil the peace of His people by the destruction of all the instruments of war, and the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature, as well as by the judgment of wrath upon all resisting nations. Micah 5:10. "And it comes to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, that I will destroy thy horses out of the midst of thee, and annihilate thy chariots. Micah 5:11. And I shall destroy the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy fortresses. Micah 5:12. And I shall destroy the witchcrafts out of thy hand; and cloud-interpreters shall not be left to thee. Micah 5:13. And I shall destroy thy graven images and thy statutes out of the midst of thee; and thou wilt no more worship the work of thy hands. Micah 5:14. And I shall root out thine idol-groves out of the midst of thee, and destroy thy cities. Micah 5:15. And I shall execute vengeance in wrath and fury upon the nations which have not heard." These verses do not explain Micah 5:8, or state how the extermination of the enemy is to take place, or how Israel is made into a lion destroying the nations that are hostile to it, namely, by the fact that the Lord eradicates from its heart all confidence in horses, chariots, and fortifications, in witchcraft and idolatry (Caspari). This assumption is at variance with the words themselves, and with the strophic arrangement of the chapter. There is nothing about trust in horses, etc., but simply about the extermination of the horses, and everything else in which the idolatrous nation had sought its strength. Moreover, the expression והיה ביּום ההוּא, when compared with והיה in Micah 5:4 and Micah 5:6, shows at once that these verses are intended to depict the last and greatest effect produced by the coming of the Prince of peace in Israel, and overthrows Hengstenberg's assumption, that the prophet here foretels the destructive work of the Lord in Israel, which will precede the destruction of the enemy predicted in Micah 5:10. In that case בּיּום ההוּא would mean "before that day," a meaning which it can never have. The prophet passes rather from the attitude of Israel among the nations, to the description of the internal perfection of the kingdom of God, which does indeed stand in a reciprocal relation to the former and proceed simultaneously with it, but which will not be completed till after the victorious suppression of the foe. Only when the people of God shall have gained the supremacy over all their enemies, will the time have arrived for all the instruments of war to be destroyed. When the world shall be overcome, then will all war cease. The ancient Israel did indeed put its trust in war-horses, and war-chariots, and fortifications (cf. Isaiah 2:7); but the Messianic Israel, or the true people of the Lord, will only put its trust in such things so far as it is not yet pervaded by the power of the peace brought by the Messiah. And the more it appropriates the spiritual power of the Prince of peace, the more will the trust in horses and chariots disappear; so that they will be destroyed, because all war comes to an end (compare Isaiah 9:4-6). And the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature will go hand in hand with this. Two kinds are mentioned in Micah 5:12 and Micah 5:13, viz., witchcraft and the worship of idols of their own making. As objects of witchcraft there are mentioned keshâphı̄m, lit., witchcrafts of different kinds, but the expression מיּדך limits them to such as are performed with the hand, and me‛ōnenı̄m ( equals ‛ōnenı̄m in Isaiah 2:6), lit., cloud-interpreters, or cloud, i.e., storm makers, from ‛ânan, a kind of witchcraft which cannot be more precisely defined (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, l.c.). Of the objects of the idolatrous worship there are mentioned (after Leviticus 26:1) pesı̄lı̄m, idols made of wood or metal; and מצּבות, stone-images, or stones dedicated to idols (see at 1 Kings 14:23). For Micah 5:12, compare Isaiah 2:8.
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