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Zephaniah 3:8

Zephaniah 3:8
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Zephaniah 3:8, “‘…my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.’”

Zeph. 3:8 explains YHWH’s response to His people’s continued apostasy, namely, the universal, world-ending judgment of all the earth. However, Zephaniah.3:9ff show the RESULT of that universal judgment, and it comes as a bit of a surprise…

Because of the earth-consuming judgment of v.8, v.9 and following tell us that ALL peoples will come to call on the name of YHWH with one accord, that ALL nations will acknowledge YHWH alone to be God…and verse 14-20 continue the description, saying that joy will be secured, enemies overthrown, fear removed, outcasts gathered in, the lame and shamed welcomed home, and YHWH Himself will dwell in the midst of His reconstituted people.

How can this be? What sort of universal judgment (v.8) results in the global recognition of YHWH’s supremacy and the establishment of such everlasting joy in Him? I would argue that 3:8 pictures the judgment that YHWH achieves against all the earth on the cross, and in the flesh of the incarnate Son.

In John 12:31-32, we read that the crucifixion of Jesus will result in two events that are particularly significant in relation to Zephaniah 8:3….First, we see that Christ’s crucifixion is called the judgment of the world, and second we read that when the Son of Man is lifted up on the cross, all people will be drawn to Him. So, John 12:31-32 pictures the “now” of the crucifixion as a moment in which and by which ALL peoples / nations are gathered together and ALL the world is judged.

When Jesus is lifted up on the cross of Calvary, He—as The Son of The Man—He embodies and represents in Himself all peoples, nations, tribes, and languages. He is not just a man, he is—as John has Pilate tell us—the Man, the embodiment of humanity; He is Mankind. In that sense, then, Jesus Christ Himself IS the assembly of all kingdoms and the gathering of all nations…..

…Yes, when Jesus Christ is lifted up to hang between heaven and earth on His cross, He IS the totality of nations, peoples, tribes and languages brought before the judgment seat of God Almighty…..He is “the world” that is judged at the cross.

And, as Zephaniah 3:8 tells us, when all nations and kingdoms have been thus gathered before YHWH [in the body of YHWH incarnate], then He will pour out on them His indignation, His burning anger…..And THIS happens at the cross. As John tells us, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ IS the judgment of the world. As our Lord and our God hangs, clothed in our shame and agony, on the cross of Calvary the world is being judged; as the lifeblood of the Author of Life is driven from His veins by the olive press of divine wrath, all nations and peoples are crushed under the indignation and burning anger of YHWH; and as the body of the Word in whom all reality subsists is rendered formless and void in the abyss of our exile, “all the earth is consumed” in the perfection of Holy vengeance.

This reading of Zephaniah 3:8 explains how it can be that the world is consumed by judgment in v.8, and yet is gathered to worship YHWH in joy and freedom, purged from all opposition to Him, in vs.9-20….How can it be? Because the world is gathered together and crucified IN the crucifixion of Christ, and so has been / is being / will be raised up to newness of life IN the resurrection of Christ.

Yes, Judgment Day happens at the cross, and the world ends in the fires of immaculate wrath on Calvary….The true Armageddon, the true slaughter of the nations, the true judgment of the world takes place in His own flesh on the cross of His sovereign love.

And I will end with this….If we recognize the glory of God in Christ….if we recognize the just damnation of all that opposes God in the just love of God that reveals God to be the one who bears that damnation in our place….if we recognize and receive God as THIS ONE….then our Judgment Day happened on Calvary and we stand reconciled, under the fear-quieting song of God’s love for us in Christ (Zeph. 3:17). But if we refuse God at the cross….if we oppose this revelation of God in mind, heart, and deed….then the eschatological Judgment that appeared in God’s flesh on Calvary still awaits our flesh in the future….May none who read this fail to see and to savor and to sing in all of life the one true God as He is savingly declared to us in the slain and risen Son.