Zephaniah 3:8
Therefore wait you on me, said the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 3:8. Therefore — Rather, Nevertheless, wait ye upon me, saith the Lord — “Notwithstanding these provocations, saith God, I exhort the godly among you to expect the fulfilment of the promises I have made, of restoring the Jewish nation to my wonted favour in the latter ages of the world: in order to which great crisis, I will execute remarkable judgments upon the unbelievers and disobedient.” Thus Lowth. It is very common with the prophets to subjoin the most comfortable promises to the most fearful threatenings, and, after having denounced the captivity, to foretel the deliverance of his people; but the prophet here seems to look further, even to the gospel times, and perhaps to the future and final restoration of the Jews. Until the day that I rise up to the prey — Until, as an enemy, I rise up to destroy first, and next to take the spoil: as if he had said, Since you, by your sins, continue to be mine enemies; so I will, by my judgments, show myself in arms against you as your enemy, namely, by the Chaldeans, who shall invade your country, and destroy and spoil you. For my determination — My fixed purpose, that which I have unalterably resolved on; is to gather the nations, &c. — All that are subject to the Chaldean monarchy; with all that are confederate with, or tributary to, the king of Babylon; to pour upon them — Upon the obstinate, incorrigible, and impious Jews first; mine indignation — Which by their sins they have kindled against themselves; for all the earth — Or, all the land, namely, the whole land of Judea, and her cities; shall be devoured — Consumed, as if burned up; with the fire of my jealousy — That jealousy wherewith God is concerned for his own glory, for his ordinances and statutes, which the Jewish people, their princes, prophets, and priests, had notoriously violated. Lowth thinks this may perhaps be meant of the same general summons which Joel speaks of, whereby the nations of the earth shall be gathered into the valley of Jehoshaphat: see notes on Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12.3:8-13 The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.Therefore wait ye upon - (for) Me God so willeth not to punish, but that all should lay hold of His mercy, that He doth not here even name punishment. Judah had slighted His mercies; He was ready to forgive all they had sinned, if they would "now" receive instruction; they in return set themselves to corrupt "all" their doings. They had wholly forsaken Him. "Therefore" - we should have expected, as elsewhere, "Therefore I will visit all your iniquities upon you." But not so. The chastisement is all veiled; the prophet points only to the mercy beyond. "Therefore wait ye for Me." All the interval of chastisement is summed up in these words; that is, since neither My mercies toward you, nor My chastisement of others, lead you to obey Me, "therefore" the time shall be, when My Providence shall not seem to be over you, nor My presence among you (see Hosea 3:3-5); but then, "wait ye for Me" earnestly, intensely, perseveringly, "until the day, that I rise up to the prey." "The day" is probably in the first instance, the deliverance from Babylon. But the words seem to be purposely enlarged, that they may embrace other judgments of God also.

For the words to "gather the nations, assemble the kingdoms," describe some array of nations against God and His people; gathering themselves for their own end at that time, but, in His purpose, gathering themselves for their own destruction, rather than the mere tranquil reunion of those of different nations in the city of Babylon, when the Medes and Persians came against them. Nor again are they altogether fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, or any other event until now. For although then a vast number of the dispersed Jews were collected together, and were at that time "broken off" Romans 11:20 and out of covenant with God, they could hardly be called "nations," (which are here and before Zephaniah 5:6 spoken of in contrast with Judah), much less "kingdoms." In its fullest sense the prophecy seems to belong to the same events in the last struggle of Anti-Christ, as at the close of Joel Joe 3:2, Joel 3:9-16 and Zechariah Zech. 14.

With this agrees the largeness of the destruction; "to pour out upon them," in full measure, emptying out so as to overwhelm them, "Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy" (see Psalm 69:24; Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 14:16; Ezekiel 21:31; Revelation 16:1). The outpouring of all God's wrath, the devouring of the whole earth, in the fullest sense of the words, belongs to the end of the world, when He shall say to the wicked, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." In lesser degrees, and less fully, the substance of the prophecy has again and again been fulfilled to the Jewish Church before Christ, at Babylon and under the Maccabees; and to the Christian, as when the Muslims hemmed in Christendom on all sides, and the waves of their conquests on the east and west threatened to meet, overwhelming Christendom. The Church, having sinned, had to "wait" for a while "for God" who by His Providence withdrew Himself, yet at last delivered it.

And since the whole history of the Church lies wrapt up in the Person of the Redeemer, "the day that I rise up to the prey," is especially the Day in which the foundation of His Church was laid, or that in which it shall be completed; the Day whereon He rose again, as the first-fruits, or that Day in which He shall "stand again on the earth" , to judge it; "so coming even as He went up into heaven" Acts 1:11. Then, "the prey" must be, what God vouch-safes to account as His gain, "the prey" which is "taken from the mighty" Isaiah 49:24-25, and "the lawful captivity, the prey of the terrible one," which shall be delivered; even that spoil which the Father bestowed on Him "Who made His soul an offering for sin" Isaiah 53:10, Isaiah 53:12, the goods of the strong man Matthew 12:29 whom He bound, and spoiled us, His lawful goods and captives, since we had "sold" (Romans 7:14, coll; Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 52:3) ourselves "under sin" to him. Cyril: "Christ lived again having spoiled hell, because "it was not possible" (as it is written) "that He," being by nature Life, "should be holden of death" Acts 2:24.

Here, where spoken of with relation to the Church, "the jealousy" of Almighty God is that love for His people (see the note at Nahum 1:2), which will not endure their ill-treatment by those who (as all anti-Christian power does) make themselves His rivals in the government of the world.

8. wait ye upon me—Here Jehovah turns to the pious Jews. Amidst all these judgments on the Jewish nation, look forward to the glorious time of restoration to be ushered in by God's precious outpouring of wrath on all nations, Isa 30:18-33; where the same phrase, "blessed are all they that wait for Him," is used as to the same great event. Calvin erroneously makes this verse an address to the ungodly; and so Maurer, "Ye shall not have to wait for Me in vain"; I will presently come armed with indignation: I will no longer contend with you by My prophets.

until the day—that is, waiting for the day (Hab 2:3).

rise up to the prey—like a savage beast rising from his lair, greedy for the prey (compare Mt 24:28). Or rather, as a warrior leading Israel to certain victory, which is expressed by "the prey," or booty, which is the reward of victory. The Septuagint and Syriac versions read the Hebrew, "I rise up as a witness" (compare Job 16:8; Mal 3:5). Jehovah being in this view witness, accuser, and judge. English Version is better (compare Isa 33:23).

gather the nations—against Jerusalem (Zec 14:2), to pour out His indignation upon them there (Joe 3:2; Zec 12:2, 3).

Therefore, since you will not be amended by all, sines you grow worse and worse, wait ye upon me; ye refractory and incorrigible Jews, rulers, and people, attend my resolution, for I am resolved what I will do, and have set a day for it.

Until the day that I rise up to the prey; until I, as an enemy, rise up to destroy first, and next to take the spoil: you by your sins continue to be mine enemies, and I will by my judgments, by the Chaldeans, who shall rise up against you, and destroy and spoil you, show myself in arms against you, as all enemy to you.

My determination my fixed purpose, that which I have unalterably resolved upon.

The nations; all that are subjects to the Chaldean monarchy.

The kingdoms, which are confederate with or tributary to the Chaldeans: these thus gathered, listed, and marshalled in a mighty army,

to pour upon them mine indignation; upon the obstinate, incorrigible, and impious Jews first; (afterwards I will punish Babylon;)

even all my fierce anger, which by their sins they have kindled against themselves.

All the earth, the whole land of Judea and her cities, shall be devoured, consumed as if burnt up,

with the fire of my jealousy; that jealousy wherewith God is jealous for his own glory, for his ordinances and statutes, which Jewish people, princes, and their prophets and their priests had notoriously violated. Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord,.... Or "nevertheless" (f): this is said to the disciples and followers of Christ among the Jews; for there were some few that did fear the Lord, and received his doctrine, and submitted to his ordinances, and walked in his ways; and these are encouraged to wait upon the Lord; upon the Word of the Lord, as the Targum; or for him, and to expect that he would appear, and work salvation and deliverance for them, when distress should come upon the unbelieving Jews:

until the day that I rise up to the prey: until the day that he rose from the dead, quickly after which he ascended to heaven, leading captivity captive; Satan, and his principalities and powers, which he made a prey and spoil of upon the cross: or, till I rise "up for a testimony", or witness (g); of his being the true Messiah; for his resurrection from the dead was the signal he gave as a testimony of it, Matthew 12:39. Some render it, "till I rise up to perpetuity": or, "for ever" (h); for, when Christ rose from the dead, he rose to an immortal life, never to die more; and ever live he does to make intercession for his people, to secure their happiness for them, and to preserve them unto it; and therefore they have great encouragement to wait upon him, and for him:

for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms; not the Chaldeans or Babylonians, as some; nor the armies of Gog and Magog, as Kimchi; but the Romans under Titus Vespasian, with whom were people of many nations, who came against Jerusalem, according to the decree, will, and appointment of God:

to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; not upon the nations and kingdoms assembled; but by them upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, against whom they would be gathered; who had corrupted their doings, and provoked the Lord to stir up and pour out all his wrath upon them, in utterly destroying their nation, city, and temple: and the apostle, speaking of the same thing, at least of the beginning of it, calls it "wrath upon them to the uttermost": and which answers to the expressions of the Lord's indignation, and all his fierce anger, here used, 1 Thessalonians 2:16,

for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy; not the whole world, and the several nations of it; but the whole land of Judea, and its inhabitants. The same phrase is used of the destruction of it by the Babylonians, Zephaniah 1:18 and which shows, that not that destruction, but the destruction by the Romans, is here meant; or otherwise a tautology is here committed; but the following words show clearly that this respects, not the former, but the latter destruction of Jerusalem; since a pure language was not given to the nations or Gentiles after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians; but has been since it was destroyed by the Romans; and which was in a few years after Christ's resurrection from the dead, predicted in the beginning of this verse; by which may be observed the connection of things in this prophecy.

(f) as in Hos. ii. 14. See Noldius. (g) , Sept. (h) "In futurum", V. L. "in perpetuum", some in Calvin; so Abendana; "in perpetuitatem", Cocceius.

Therefore {f} wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

(f) Seeing that you will not repent, you can expect my vengeance as well as other nations.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Therefore wait ye upon me] As R.V. for me, the words being further explained in the clause: for the day that I rise up, &c. The expression wait for me is not ironical (Hitz.), though it might be used in a threatening sense, like Amos 4:12, “prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” Most probably, however, though the verse contains anew the announcement of the coming universal judgment (ch. Zephaniah 1:2 ff.), the promise of Zephaniah 3:9-13 is already in the prophet’s mind. The judgment is not the last act of the drama; behind the storm of universal judgment rises clear the day of universal salvation. The exhortation to wait for Jehovah is parallel to ch. Zephaniah 2:1-3.

Until the day that I rise up to the prey] for the day, continuing for me. If this meaning be accepted, the impending judgment of God is expressed figuratively as a hostile attack by Him, and the question what is meant by the “prey” must not be asked: the “prey” is merely part of the metaphor. Both Sept. and Syr., however, interpreted, “rise up for a witness” (reading le‘êd for Heb. le‘ad), and this sense is followed by many commentators. Comp. Micah 1:2, “let the Lord God be witness against you;” Psalm 50:7; Malachi 3:5. On the expression “rise up” in reference to a witness cf. Psalm 27:12; Psalm 35:11; Deuteronomy 19:15; Job 16:8.

to gather the nations] It is not implied that the nations shall be gathered to Jerusalem to be judged, as in later writings, e.g. Joel 3:2; Isaiah 66:18; Zechariah 14:2; Zechariah 14:12 ff.; the “gathering” merely expresses the idea that they shall be universally and simultaneously judged. The judgment is one embracing the whole earth, as ch. Zephaniah 1:18, and falls on Israel as well as on the nations.Verse 8. - Therefore. Because of the outrage done to God's "long suffering," he must needs punish. Wait ye upon me; wait ye for me. The exhortation is addressed to the pious among the Jews, as in Zephaniah 2:3, and is used in a good sense (Psalm 33:20; Isaiah 8:17), urging them not to despair, but to be patient under the affliction, in the assured hope of salvation. The same expression is used in Habakkuk 2:3. I rise up to the prey. This is a phrase denoting effort and the effecting of some great object. Jehovah seizes the prey when the nations, roused by judgment inflicted, are converted unto him (Isaiah 53:12; Psalm 68:18). The LXX., pointing the last word differently (עד), renders, εἰς ἡμέραν ἀναστάσεώς μου εἰς μαρτύριον: "until the day of my rising up for testimony." Jerome, "In die resurrectionis meae in futurum." The Fathers interpreted this of the times of Messiah - some, of Christ's resurrection from the dead; some, of his rising up to divide the spoil (Genesis 49:9, 27. See St. Augustine, 'De Civil.,' 18:33; Eusebius, 'Dem. Ev.,' 2:17; and Jerome and Cyril, in loc.). But such interpretations are Mien from the intention of the passage, however allowable as glosses. For my determination is; literally, my judgment (mishpat) is. My justice is displayed, as ver. 5. The word, according to Keil, never means, "decree" or "decision." That I may assemble the kingdoms. Not for utter extermination, but to bring them to a better mind (Isaiah 26:9; Joel 3:11, etc.). Fire of my jealousy (Zephaniah 1:18). God will allow no rival anywhere (Nahum 1:2). This is the reason of the severity and universality of the judgment The Masorites note that this ' the only verse in the Bible which contains the whole Hebrew alphabet. The promise of salvation impels the congregation to pray that it may be granted (Micah 7:14); whereupon the Lord assures it that His covenant mercies shall be renewed, and promises the thorough humiliation of the hostile nations of the world (Micah 7:15-17). Micah 7:14. "Feed thy people with thy staff, the sheep of thine inheritance, dwelling apart, in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of the olden time." The question in dispute among commentators, whether this prayer is addressed to the Lord by the prophet on behalf of the nation, or whether the prophet is still speaking in the name of the believing church, is decided in favour of the latter by the answer addressed to the church in Micah 7:15. The Lord is addressed as the shepherd of Israel, the title by which Jacob addressed Him in Genesis 49:24 (cf. Psalm 80:2; Psalm 23:1 ff.). The prayer is related to the promise in Micah 5:3 ff., viz., that the ruler coming forth out of Bethlehem will feed in the strength of Jehovah, and involves the prayer for the sending of this ruler. "With this staff," i.e., the shepherd's staff (cf. Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4), is added pictorially; and as a support to the prayer, it designates the people as the sheep of Jehovah's inheritance. צאן נחלה, instead of עם נחלה, which occurs more frequently, is occasioned by the figure of the shepherd. As the sheep need the protection of the shepherd, lest they should perish, so Israel needs the guidance of its God, that it may not be destroyed by its foes. The following apposition שׁכני לבדד determines the manner of the feeding more precisely; so that we may resolve it into the clause, "so that thy people may dwell apart." The words contain an allusion to Numbers 23:9, where Balaam describes Israel as a people separated from the rest of the nations; and to Deuteronomy 33:28, where Moses congratulates it, because it dwells in safety and alone (bâdâd, separate), under the protection of its God, in a land full of corn, new wine, etc. The church asks for the fulfilment of this blessing from Jehovah its shepherd, that it may dwell separate from the nations of the world, so that they may not be able to do it any harm; and that "in the wood in the midst of Carmel," that promontory abounding in wood and pasture land (laetis pascuis abundat: Jerome on Amos 1:2). The wood is thought of here as shutting off the flock from the world without, withdrawing it from its sight, and affording it security; and the fact that dangerous wild beasts have their home in the forest (Jeremiah 5:6; Psalm 80:14) is overlooked here, because Israel is protected from them by its own shepherd. ירעוּ, which follows, is not future, but optative, corresponding to the imperative רעה. Gilead and Bashan are also named as portions of the land that were rich in pasture (cf. Numbers 32:1 ff.), namely, of the land to the east of the Jordan, Carmel belonging to the western portion of Canaan. These three portions individualize the whole of the territory which Israel received for its inheritance, and not merely the territory of the kingdom of the ten tribes. The simple reason why no districts in the kingdom of Judah are mentioned, is that Judah possessed no woody districts abounding in grass and pasture resembling those named. Moreover, the prayer refers to the whole of Israel, or rather to the remnant of the whole nation that has been rescued from the judgment, and which will form an undivided flock under the Messiah (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:15 ff.). ימי עולם, "the days of old," are the times of Moses and Joshua, when the Lord brought Israel with His mighty arm into the possession of the promised land. The Lord answers this prayer, by promising, according to His abundant goodness, more than the church has asked. Micah 7:15. "As in the days of thy going out of the land of Egypt will I cause it to see wonders. Micah 7:16. Nations will see it, and be ashamed of all their strength: they will lay the hand upon the mouth, their ears will become deaf. Micah 7:17. They will lick dust like the snake, like the reptiles of the earth they come trembling out of their castles: they will go trembling to Jehovah our God, and before thee will they fear." The wonders (niphlâ'ōth; cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 78:11) with which the Lord formerly smote Egypt, to redeem His people out of the bondage of that kingdom of the world, will the Lord renew for His people. In צאתך the nation is addressed, whilst the suffix of the third pers. attached to אראנּוּ points back to עמּך in Micah 7:14. The miraculous deeds will make such an impression, that the heathen nations who see them will stand ashamed, dumb and deaf with alarm and horror. Ashamed of all their strength, i.e., because all their strength becomes impotence before the mighty acts of the Almighty God. Laying the hand upon the mouth is a gesture expressive of reverential silence from astonishment and admiration (cf. Judges 18:19; Job 21:5, etc.). Their ears shall become deaf "from the thunder of His mighty acts, Job 26:14, the qōl hâmōn of Isaiah 33:8" (Hitzig). With this description of the impression made by the wonderful works of God, the words of God pass imperceptibly into words of the prophet, who carries out the divine answer still further in an explanatory form, as we may see from Isaiah 33:17. The heathen will submit themselves to Jehovah in the humblest fear. This is stated in Micah 7:17. Licking the dust like the serpent contains an allusion to Genesis 3:14 (cf. Psalm 72:9 and Isaiah 49:23). זחלי ארץ, earth-creepers, i.e., snakes, recals the זחלי עפר of Deuteronomy 32:24. Like snakes, when they are driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmers make them come out of their holes, so will the nations come trembling out of their castles (misgerōth as in Psalm 18:46), and tremble to Jehovah, i.e., flee to Him with trembling, as alone able to grant help (see Hosea 3:5), and fear before thee. With ממּךּ the prayer passes into an address to Jehovah, to attach to this the praise of God with which he closes his book.
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