Shall we turn now in our Bibles to the book of Zephaniah. The opening verse tells us that,
This is the word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, who was the son of Gedaliah, who was the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah (1:1).
Now, of the minor prophets we really have very little of their background. For some reason we have more of Zephaniah’s background than any of them, as he gives his lineage. He takes his lineage actually back to Hezekiah, who was, of course, one of the great kings of Judah. So Zephaniah was actually of the royal family. He prophesied during the reign of Josiah. Josiah had a fairly successful reign in Judah, especially from a spiritual standpoint. Under Josiah there was at least a surface reformation.
Now, the fact that he prophesied during the time of Josiah makes him a contemporary to Jeremiah. So during the time that the southern tribe of Judah was in the final decline, moving down towards the end of the southern kingdom, towards the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah and Zephaniah were exercising their office as a prophet to Judah at that time. And the Lord declares in His prophecy through Zephaniah that He
will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD (1:2).
Now in Zephaniah’s prophecy there definitely is the double aspect of fulfillment. There was that fulfillment that was to take place under the destruction that came from Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar, but that also looked out to the end. Zephaniah looks out to the Great Tribulation and does prophesy much about the Great Tribulation, the judgment of God, the indignation of God that is going to come upon this godless age in which we live. So the Lord is declaring, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land.”
I will consume the man and the beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, the fish of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD (1:3).
This, no doubt, is a reference to the Great Tribulation period in which the cataclysmic judgments of God are going to fall upon this planet Earth, and this planet Earth is going to see a turmoil such as it has never seen before or will ever see again. Jesus speaking of this time said, “And there shall be a time of Great Tribulation such as has never been before or will ever be again.” As the whole kingdom of the animals, fish, and man will be affected by the cataclysmic judgments of God. God is now speaking,
He is now going to stretch out his hand against Jerusalem, and Judah; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests (1:4);
The Chemarims were actually the priests that exercised their offices at that time of apostasy. They were the priests in the high places, as referred to in the II Kings. So because of the idolatry there in Jerusalem and in Judah, God was going to turn them over into the hands of their enemies.
I have mentioned it before, and I think that it is quite significant, that in some of the latest archeological diggings, Professor Shiloh is seeking to uncover the old city of David. They call it the Hill of Ophel. It is right above the springs of Gihon. That hill that comes down to Gihon and goes up from there, and the pool of Siloam under which Hezekiah dug his tunnel, above the hill and up the slopes is the old city of Jerusalem that dates back to the time of this prophecy. The city of, or the hill of Ophel, and really was known as the City of David. As they have been excavating on up in recent excavations, these are the ones that created the riots last year. The riots were perpetrated by some of the rabbis, the orthodox rabbis, who felt that Professor Shiloh was not giving proper regard to the bones that he was uncovering. The orthodox rabbis have quite a thing on the dead. Whenever an archeologist finds a bone, they want to be there and examine it to see if it is a human bone, and if so, then the rabbis give it a blessing before they bury it.
Professor Shiloh is a very pragmatic kind of a person. I’ve had dinner with him, and I enjoyed his company very much. He is the kind of a guy that says, “Hey, I don’t want anybody trying to govern my dig. I feel that the archeology is scientific, and I don’t think that there should be a mixture of this religious aspect with the scientific projects of archeology.” So he deliberately ignored the desires of the rabbis, and this is why they had the big strike, and the big to-do over there. It was really a matter of principle as Professor Shiloh was trying to guard the scientific aspects of archeology, so that it doesn’t become a religious kind of a ceremony. So when he would uncover the bones, rather than calling for a rabbi, he’d say, “Oh, it’s a dog bone. Just bury it.” So the rabbis discovered what he was doing, and hence, the big to-do over there last summer in his excavations.
However, Professor Shiloh was telling me that as they uncovered the houses that existed, and of course, he said it always gives you sort of a sense of awe as you’re digging and you’re uncovering the rubble and the ruins of the houses, and you find the interiors just as they were when they were destroyed by the Babylonians. He said that the artifacts that they find within the houses that were destroyed by this Babylonian army, they just came in and just broke the houses down. You see, when they came back from the Babylonian captivity, the place was all overgrown. The houses were all leveled, and the place was overgrown. So rather than at that time uncovering them and rebuilding the houses, they just put more dirt over them and built on top of them. But he said as they were digging in the ruins of these houses, finding them just as the Babylonians had destroyed them, he said they were amazed at the number of little gods that they discovered, the little idols that were in every home. He speaks of the multitudes of idols, and he showed me pictures just table after table, full of these little idols that were in these homes of the people in Judah prior to the destruction by the Babylonian army. Surely that is confirmation of what we read in Jeremiah, and what we read in Isaiah, as these prophets were warning of the judgment of God that was to come because of the idolatry that existed.
Now here again, as Zephaniah is telling of the destruction and the judgment of God that is going to come, there is the mention of the worship of Baal. So many little idols to Baal, which means lord, were discovered. The priests, the Chemarims, the priests of the high places.
And them that worship the hosts of heaven upon the housetops (1:5);
Which was the practice of astrology, which is an ancient cult going back to the Babylonian period where people imagined that the stars had certain influences over their lives. So the time that you were born and all, feeling that the stars determined your destiny. Isn’t it amazing that this modern, scientifically enlightened age there are those who still look at their horoscopes to determine whether or not they should go to work today. “They worship the hosts of heaven upon the housetops,”
and them that swear by the LORD, and swear by Malcham (1:5);
Which, of course, is the idol of the Ammonites, which had its equivalent of Molech.
And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him (1:6).
Here they were worshiping all of their idols, but they had forsaken Jehovah, and had not inquired of Jehovah.
Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the LORD is at hand (1:7):
The day of the Lord is, of course, again, a reference to the great day of God’s judgment that is coming.
for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests (1:7).
You remember in the book of Revelation, chapter 19, as it speaks of this great day of the Lord’s wrath that is coming, that He invites the birds to come and feast on the carcasses of kings and so forth. The great day of the Lord’s wrath. So He has prepared a sacrifice, a feast. He has bid His guests, which are the birds, the vultures to come and to eat the carcasses of men.
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also will I punish all of those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. It shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be a noise of a cry from the fish gate, and a howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh (1:8-11),
That is actually the little area where the shopping, the bazaar. If you go to Jerusalem today the sukes, the commercial place within the city, these long narrow little streets where all of these little shops are on all sides, that’s the Hebrew Maktesh. It’s the place where they did all of their selling. “Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh,”
for all of the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off. And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil (1:11-12).
In other words, God is withdrawn; it doesn’t matter to God. “We can live as we please. What difference does it make to God? He won’t do good; He won’t do evil.” People who live as though God did not exist.
Now, I think that we look at some people and we are appalled at the brazen declarations that they make of atheism. They are so bold in their speaking out against the things of God. Many times we are shocked at their blasphemies. But you know, I think that even worse than some of these blasphemous persons are people who say they believe in God, and yet, they live as though God did not exist. Who never take God into account in any of the decisions of their lives. Now to me this is a greater blasphemy than a man who utters oaths with his mouth. They say, “Oh, I believe in God. Yes, I believe in God,” but he never takes God into account in any of the decision-making processes, never seeks the Lord. He has the attitude, “Well, the Lord’s not going to do good or do evil.” It’s that careless attitude concerning God and the things of God. The Lord said He’s going to punish those that have settled on their lees.
Therefore, their goods shall become a booty, their houses a desolation (1:13):
Boy, as you go, and you go through the archeological digs that Professor Shiloh has made, you see what desolation has become of their houses.
they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and it hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, it is a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet [the battle trumpet that calls the troops to assemble] and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land (1:13-18).
Of course, the prophecy here does definitely spread out in the double fulfillment going to the great day of God’s judgment that is coming yet upon the earth.
Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired (2:1);
Now that “not desired” in the Hebrew literally means “a nation that knows no shame.” They were doing shameful things, but they refused to be ashamed.
Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger has come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger (2:2-3).
So the Lord’s promise to hide those from the day of His anger.
When the Great Tribulation comes upon the earth, just before it comes, and what will actually be the final straw, so to speak, will be the desecration of the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
Now, prophetically the temple is to be rebuilt. When the temple is rebuilt, this man, who in the Scripture is known as the son of perdition or the man of sin, the beast, often called the antichrist, he is going to come to the temple; he’s going to stand in the holy place and declare that he is god and is going to demand to be worshiped as God. Jesus speaking to Israel, to the Jews at this time, who see this manifestation, said to them, “And when you see the abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet spoke about, standing in the holy place, then flee to the wilderness” (Matthew 24:15-16).
Now in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, as John sees, first of all, the woman, Israel, clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars. And then he sees the second wonder in heaven, the great dragon, Satan, who is cast out of heaven. And he goes to make war against the woman’s seed, or the remnant of the nation of Israel, or the people of Israel. But in the book of Revelation it says that the woman’s seed are given wings of an eagle, to bear them to the wilderness place where they will be nourished for three and a half years. So that they will not come under the dominion and the control of the antichrist, but will flee to this wildernesses place that God has prepared for them. Which according to Isaiah, chapter 16, will be the rock city of Petra, where many of the Jews will flee for survival. And God will watch over them and take care of them there. This also is made mention of in the twenty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, the last few verses, where God bears them safely to a place of refuge until His indignation be overpassed, or the wrath of God, the judgments of God are over.
So here again is the promise of the Lord for those people in that day to seek the Lord. “All ye meek of the earth which have wrought His judgment, seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” It is possible that they can be those that will be preserved miraculously by God in this wilderness place where they will be taken care of by the Lord for three and a half years. So that’s a yet future experience for the Jews. It is not the church. The church, of course, will be caught up in the rapture before these things take place.
For [he said] Gaza shall be forsaken [or Gaza], and Ashkelon a desolation: and they shall drive out Ashdod at the noonday, and Ekron shall be rooted up (2:4).
These are the cities, the major cities of the Philistines. The Gaza, and of course, you’re reading an awful lot in the last couple weeks of the Gaza Strip and the problems that are going on there right now. Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron.
Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! for the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the seacoast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah (2:5-7);
Now this is a fascinating prophecy, because during the time of the Old Testament, the Philistines were one of the strong and perennial enemies of the Jews. The cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath were the major Philistine cities. They were in the coastal plains. They were a constant thorn in the flesh to Israel. The tribe of Dan tried to settle in that area, but they found that the Philistines were too strong for them. So the tribe of Dan went way up in the north part of the land in the upper Galilee region, and there the tribe of Dan settled north of Lachish, clear on up near the base of Mount Hermon.
But the Lord is here predicting that the Philistines are going to be destroyed and that these cities will be desolate. They will just be places where the Nomadic Bedouins keep their flocks. But then the prophecy goes on to declare, “The coast shall be for a remnant of the house of Judah,”
and they shall feed thereon (2:7):
Now it’s extremely interesting that in these days in which we live, these Philistine cities Ashdod, Ashkelon have been rebuilt into Jewish communities. In Ashdod the Israelis have built their major seaport. Most of the shipping is no longer done out of Haifa, but it’s done out of Ashdod. And as God has declared, this area for years, for over a thousand years, was just grazing land for the Bedouins. But when Israel became a nation again, they began the rebuilding projects. One of the major projects was the rebuilding of this area of Ashdod and the making of this modern seaport. Also, Ashkelon, and so they have settled now in the area that was once a part of the Philistine territory. So this fascinating prophecy of Zephaniah has been fulfilled during some of our lifetime. Some of you kids are still too young; it happened before you were born, but I do remember it. “And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they shall feed there upon.”
and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity (2:7).
So this, of course, is a prophecy of the rebirth of the nation Israel.
I’ve heard the reproach of Moab, the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border (2:8).
Moab and Ammon, of course, had magnified themselves; they took the West Bank from Israel when Israel became a nation in 1948. King Jordan moved in with his troops and took the West Bank. The Lord here speaks about it, “I know the reproach how they’ve magnified themselves against their border.”
Therefore, as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab will become as Sodom [that’s present day Jordan], and the children of Ammon [the capital of Jordan] as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them (2:9).
So it looks like Jordan is in for trouble with Israel from this prophecy of Zephaniah. Of course, it is interesting that at the present time the strategy of General Sharon, the defense minister of Israel, is to drive the PLO out of Lebanon into Jordan and make Jordan the Palestinian state. Helping the PLO to depose King Hussein. That is the present strategy planned by General Sharon, and it is interesting that Zephaniah speaks much of that taking place 2,100 years ago. No, more than that, 2,600 years ago.
This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts (2:10).
The Lord said, “Touch not My anointed, do My prophets no harm.” The Lord said He would bless those that blessed Abraham; He would curse those that cursed them. So Moab, or Jordan, is to fall because of their treatment of God’s people, the people of the Lord of hosts. Now, it isn’t that the people of the Lord of hosts are so righteous. It’s just that God has chosen them. And because God has chosen them, we should respect them.
The LORD will be awesome unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen [or the coasts of the heathen]. Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and he will make Nineveh a desolation (2:11-13),
So at this time that Zephaniah was prophesying, Nineveh was still existing. It had not yet been destroyed by the Medes and the Babylonians.
The flock shall lie down in the midst of her, all of the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: [that great city of Nineveh] and how has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand (2:14-15).
Nineveh, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. It took three days to walk through the city of Nineveh from one end to the other. Yet here’s the prophet making this amazing prophecy: it’s going to be desolate. Sheep are going to graze there. In the houses that once existed there, the owl and the bittern will lodge in the thresholds. It will be a place for the dwelling of wild animals. As improbable as that prophecy of Zephaniah did seem at that time, yet it came to pass.
Now the Lord speaks against Jerusalem.
Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she receive not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God (3:1-2).
So God’s indictment against her: she wouldn’t listen, she wouldn’t obey, she wouldn’t receive correction, she wouldn’t trust in the Lord, she would not draw near to God.
Her princes within her are as roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law (3:3-4).
Now we find that these are much the same indictments that Jeremiah was bringing against the nation and against Jerusalem in his prophecy. You remember how Jeremiah had a hard time with these false prophets who were coming to the king and saying, “Oh, king, you’re going to be pushing the Babylonians all over the place. They won’t come near here” and all. And how that they were conspiring against Jeremiah because he dared to stand up and tell the truth. So here Zephaniah speaks of their prophets: they’re light and treacherous persons, their priests have polluted the sanctuary, they’ve done violence to the law.
The just LORD is in the midst thereof; and he will not do iniquity: every morning does he bring his judgment to light, he fails not; but the unjust does not know shame. I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passes by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, there is no inhabitant. I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted their doings (3:5-7).
God intends, actually, that judgment be for correction, first of all. When we start getting out of line, God oftentimes brings judgment in the form of chastisement into our lives. The purpose of it is to turn us back to God. But it’s tragic that so many people, when God is bringing the rod of chastisement, will oftentimes rebel against the Lord, and thus, their condition only worsens. But the Lord said, “When My judgments are in the land, it will cause My people to turn to righteousness.” A true child of God, when he begins to see the judgments, turns to God. But here the Lord speaks of His judgments and how that they just corrupted themselves all the more.
Now we go out to the future, the great judgment of the nations which is coming.
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 (3:8),
As we told you, the word indignation in the Old Testament is the equivalent of the Great Tribulation of the New Testament. So here God is speaking of the Great Tribulation period as He gathers the nations. Of course, gathering them into the great valley of Megiddo for the great battle of Armageddon. “Where I will pour out upon them all my indignation, even all My fierce anger.”
for the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent (3:8-9).
Now, originally man all spoke one language. But at the tower of Babel, as men through tremendous scientific progress were building these communication towers, for extra stellar communication, to communicate with people in space, to learn from those in space. You remember as the Lord looked upon the scene of the building of the tower of Babel, He spoke of how that men gathering themselves together had advanced so far in their technology, that nothing that they determined to do could be withheld from them. So in order to thwart man from his devious plans, God brought the confusion of tongues, and the separation then into ethnic groups by language throughout the world. Now the day is coming when we’re going to speak a pure language again.
I found it quite interesting when our Hebrew guide told us that there were no swear words in Hebrew. If a Jew wants to swear, he has to use English. They have no swear words in Hebrew. We were in the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, and we heard this doctor talking in Hebrew. As he was talking to his colleagues, he let out a series of oaths that I understood in English. So I turned to my wife, and I said, “I guess it is true, the only way they can swear is in English.” Of course, he got very embarrassed, but I thought that was quite interesting. A language in which there are no swear words. Perhaps that is the pure language. “But the Lord will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent,” or with one voice.
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my offering. In that day shall thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. And the remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none will make them afraid (3:10-13).
Now notice again the sequence, God’s judgment, the indignation that is going to come, but followed by the new age; the one language, the restoration of the earth to God’s order, and God’s plan. Of course, then going on into verse 14, the glorious day of the Lord, the day that the Lord comes and establishes His kingdom upon the earth.
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. For the LORD has taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out your enemy: the King of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: and thou shalt see evil no more (3:14-15).
That glorious day when Jesus comes and reigns, the Lord dwelling in the midst of His people once again, even as He did when He was upon the earth two thousand years ago. The word made flesh and dwelt among us. He was in the world, the world was made by Him, but the world knew Him not. He came to His own, but His own received Him not. So the Lord dwelling in the midst of the people, the rejoicing, the singing, the glory of that wonderful day.
And in that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Don’t fear: and to Zion, Let not thy hands be slack. For the LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing (3:16-17).
So the attention is drawn now to the Lord in the midst of His people. First of all, His mighty power is made mention. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” Then His work, “He will save.”
Really, the world today is in dire need of salvation. Man has gone just about as far as he can go without destroying everything. Man presently is spending one trillion dollars a year on military weapons. It’s bankrupting the whole world. Our economy is bankrupt. The Russians’ economy is bankrupt. Because we are spending so much money in our military budgets, we are bankrupting our world. A hundred and three billion dollars of deficit spending on this year alone for the defense projects. In fact, we’re spending even more than that for defense. They have asked for one trillion dollars for defense over the next five years. It just boggles your mind. You can’t even think in numbers like that. Even if you wanted to count to a billion, it would take you nineteen years day and night counting at a hundred a minute. A hundred and three billion dollars that they don’t have, they’re spending.
Now, I don’t recommend you go out and write checks on funds you don’t have. It’s a crime, punishable by imprisonment. Yet, our government is doing exactly that, writing phony checks. Actually, they’re printing phony money and passing it off on you. It used to be that the currency was covered by gold. They had gold notes. Then it was covered by silver, and they had silver notes. You noticed on the old silver notes, it was redeemable in silver. But a few years ago they called in all the silver notes. The gold notes in effect said, “We owe you twenty dollars in gold.” The silver notes said in effect, “We owe you ten,” or “twenty,” or “five dollars in silver.” Now the notes that they give you, the Federal Reserve notes, they’re not backed by anything. So in reality, it says, “We owe you nothing.” Sad state of affairs. Oh, how the world needs saving. Unfortunately, government can’t save us. In fact, it is government that is burying us, destroying us. We can’t afford government anymore. Government has become too expensive. The same is true around the world.
Only one hope for this whole sick world. From a sociological standpoint, we look at the sociological sickness of the world, we look at the sociological sickness in the United States. We see the epidemic crime levels. We see the assaults, the murders, the rapes. No solution, no answer. We need a Savior.
Now there is coming a false savior. A man who is going to have all kinds of novel, new ideas, who will seemingly save the economy for a time. Who will solve much of the social evils, because so many of the crimes involve money. All of the convenience stores that are robbed every night, the service stations that are robbed, and pockets that are picked and purses that are snatched, or goods that are heisted, and it all involves a monetary exchange. A guy rips off your television set and all so that he can go and sell it quickly for some money. Gives it to a fence, and he gets money, and it’s all this thing of money.
So this man is going to come up with a fantastic solution to the social problems, many of them of a crime, by eliminating money completely. By assigning every one a mark, recognizable by a computer scanner. A mark that will be placed in the right hand or in the forehead of everybody. No one will be able to buy or sell unless they have this mark. Did you read this week in the paper where they figure that there is between eighty and a hundred billion dollars of unpaid taxes every year from people who are skimming off the top? The government is going to have to do something, and what better thing can you do than to get rid of money, and say, “All right if you want to buy or sell, you’ll have to use the mark. No one buys or sells without a mark.” That way they’ll know every asset that you have. You won’t be able to dispose of them, except that mark is used. All the exchanging will be done through the use of the mark, which, of course, will have your monetary equivalent within the computer bank, stored within the computer system.
Immediately all of the crimes involving money will be over. You can’t hold up…it’s all in the computer. Of course, there’ll be then people who will be developing ways of tapping into the computer and all, but nonetheless, it’s going to change the crime. It’ll take a while for people to figure the new system, at least three and a half years.
So he’ll come up with some economic solutions, he’ll come up with some sociological solutions. All of the world is going to begin to hail this man as its leader, as its savior. The false Messiah, the antichrist. He will even befriend the Jewish nation; make a covenant with them, whereby they will be able to rebuild their temple on the temple mount. All of these things are in order today.
Did you know that the United States government is planning in 1984 to inaugurate a universal number system for everybody in the U.S.? We’re moving down towards the line. I read this in the newspaper the other day, but I’ve known it for years, because one of our fellows went back to do secret work, top classified work in the Pentagon, seven years ago. He thought it was so significant he said, “Chuck, this is top classified, but,” he said, “I feel I’ve got to tell you.” 1984, he said, “I’ve been working on the program back in Washington D.C. In 1984 we’ve targeted to give a universal number to everyone in the U.S.” All the plans are there. The other day in the paper someone let the leak out, so I’m not doing anything that I shouldn’t by telling you.
How the world needs to be saved. The only hope is Jesus Christ. This man who pretends to be a savior, who the world thinks is a savior, is only going to ultimately plunge the world into the greatest chaos the world has ever known. For three and a half years it’s going to look like peaches and cream, and then the cream is going to sour and things are going to really go bad.
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee,” but Jesus is then coming. He’s going to set up His kingdom; He’s going to dwell in the midst of the people. What rejoicing, what singing, what joy in those days. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing.” The Lord is going to be singing a love song to you.
I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time, I will undo all that afflict thee: I will save her that halteth, I will gather her that was driven out; I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time I will bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all the people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD (3:18-20).
So the future blessing upon the nation of Israel in the glorious Kingdom Age closes the prophecy of Zephaniah.
Then we go to Haggai who prophesied in the second year of Darius the king. This is not the Darius of Daniel’s fame who was the Persian general when Babylon fell, but this is a Darius who came along later in the year 520 B.C., and that’s about the time of Haggai’s prophecy. They feel that his prophecy covered a period of two months. Isn’t that interesting how that in two month’s time the fellow fulfilled God’s call upon his life? Esther fulfilled the call of God upon her life in two day’s time. Remember her uncle Mordecai said, “How do you know but what God has not brought you to the kingdom for such an hour as this? This is your moment, Esther. This is why you’ve been born. This is your purpose for life.” And it was all accomplished so quickly. Here’s Haggai a prophet, prophesying for a period of a couple of months.
Now as we get into Haggai, and Zechariah, and Malachi, shift gears. Historically, now we were just in Zephaniah and that was just before the fall in Babylon, to Babylon. He was predicting the judgment that God would bring upon him through Babylon and all. Then during the time that they were in the Babylonian captivity, Daniel and Ezekiel were prophesying to them. Now the Babylonian captivity is over.
Now a remnant have gone back to Jerusalem, and have started building the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. But they are hassled by the Samaritans, the people who had inhabited the land during the seventy years that they were in captivity. The Samaritans first came and offered to help them. They said, “You’re a bunch of mongrels. We don’t want your help. We’re able to do it ourselves.” So then they began to send letters to the king of Persia, and they said, “You better check out these dudes. They’re rebellious, every, their whole history is that of rebellion. If they build a city, they’re already talking about rebelling against you once they get the walls up. You better stop their building.” So the king of Persia ordered a cease and desist order. “Stop the building.” Then through other communications they said, “Look, we have the permission of Cyrus. We’ve got the papers that have given us the permission to build. Check the records.” They checked it out. So the orders came to start building again. But by this time the people had become interested in building their own homes. They were beginning to settle down in their own places, fixing up, and making their places luxurious. They had lost interest in the rebuilding of the temple.
So Haggai comes along and he is encouraging the people to get back to work in the rebuilding of the temple. His prophecies have to do with the encouragement of rebuilding the temple.
So in your books of history in the Old Testament, this prophecy of Haggai takes place during the period of Ezra and Nehemiah. Now if you want extra credit for the course, go back and read Ezra and Nehemiah in conjunction with the last three books, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. If you read it with Ezra and Nehemiah, you will then fit it with its historic position.
So in the second year of Darius [520 B.C.], in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, [the second year of the reign of Darius the king,] there came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel [who was one of the leaders in this movement of rebuilding] the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house shall be built (1:1-2).
“This isn’t the time to do it.” There was a procrastination on the part of the people.
Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
They were saying, “The time isn’t come,” and he said,
Is it time for you to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD; Consider your ways (1:3-5).
Now it is interesting how that Haggai, or the Lord through Haggai is constantly calling the people to consider. You know, there are a lot of things that happen around us and we never take it into consideration. It seems that we’ve become very shallow people. Through our television news and through our news magazines and through all of the media that we have today, we’ve become extremely broad people. We know a little bit about everything because of all of the glorious media that we now have, able to condense things down and give us a little synopsis of this, and a little synopsis of that. So we’ve become extremely broad. We know a little bit about everything. But we don’t know much about anything. We’re very shallow. We don’t really stop to consider a lot of times things that are happening around us. The Lord is saying, “Hey, look. Take a look at this. Consider this now. Consider this now.” So Haggai is calling the people to consider their ways. For he said,
[Look,] you have sown a lot of seed, but you’ve harvested very little; you don’t have enough; you drink, but you’re not filled; you are busy making your clothes, but you are not warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes (1:6).
Very descriptive, isn’t it? Remind you of anything you’ve experienced? You put your wages in a purse that has holes. Where does the money go?
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways (1:7).
The second challenge to consider, “Consider this, times are bad, your crops are failing, you don’t have enough, there’s not enough to go around.” Now he said,
Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. For you looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that is waste, and ye have run every man to his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground brings forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon the labor of their hands (1:8-11).
The Lord said, “I’ve brought the drought because you have forsaken My house; you’ve allowed my house to lie waste because you are putting yourselves first.”
Now Jesus said that the heathen world, the Gentile world is seeking after what it’s going to eat, what it’s going to drink, and what it’s going to wear. These are basically the things that the Lord is talking to these people about. So many people today are working double jobs. They’re both, husbands and wives working because they’re so concerned with what they’re going to eat, what they’re going to drink, and what they’re going to wear. Times are tough. There’s not enough money to go around. There seems to be a drought. But the Lord said, “The reason why is because you have forsaken My house. You’ve allowed it to be desolate.” So the Lord, he said, called for the drought.
Now in the New Testament where Jesus said, “These things do the Gentiles seek,” He said, “but you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be taken care of” (Matthew 6:33). You see, the people had messed up their priorities. They were seeking themselves first. They were seeking their own luxuries first, and as a result, they didn’t have enough. They were seeking to provide for their physical needs: their clothing, their food, their drink, and they never had enough. They never had enough. The Lord said, “Look, you seek first My kingdom and My righteousness, and all these other things will be added.” Get your priorities straight. Put the Lord first in your life. Seek the Lord first in your life, and God will take care of your needs.
Now our sinful hearts of unbelief said, “But I don’t know how He can do it.” But it isn’t yours to know how; it’s only yours to obey in faith. If you obey in faith and put God first and seek God first, you can be sure that His Word is true, and all these other things will be added to you. God will take care of you. God will provide for you if you put Him first. But you know one of the first things to get whacked out of a budget is the Lord’s place. One of the first things to go. “Oh, I’ve got to work on Sunday, going to miss church, but I’ll listen. I’ll get the tapes, and I’ll catch up on the Sunday lesson.” We’re putting our own needs above the things of God. God is getting short-changed. But hey, that’s a one-way street. The more I short-change God, the shorter my change becomes. God said, “Look, I’ve called for the drought.”
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD (1:12).
So they responded to this exhortation of Haggai. They considered, and they responded. So Haggai came with a second message.
Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD (1:13).
Now that was a very short message, but oh, what a comforting message. They obeyed and the Lord spoke again and said, “I am with you, saith the Lord.” That was all the message.
So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of their God. And in the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king (1:14-15).
Now in the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, to Joshua, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how does it look to you now? is it not in your eyes in comparison as of nothing (2:1-3)?
The temple of Solomon, of course, was an extremely glorious building. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.
Now in the book of Ezra we’re told that as they began to lay the foundation for the new temple at this time, the young people, those who had been born in Babylonian captivity, those who had never seen the glory of Jerusalem during the days prior to the captivity, those that had never seen the glorious temple that Solomon had built. Those young people were all rejoicing. They were dancing. They were happy. “We’re laying the foundations of the Lord’s temple!” But the older people who remembered the glory of Solomon’s temple, when they saw how paltry was this new thing that they’re building, they said, “stood there and wept.”
So upon this occasion of the older people who could still remember the glorious Solomon’s temple, on the occasion of their weeping, the word of the Lord came through Haggai, “And who of you is left among those that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it just really as nothing compared to the first?”
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, and be strong, ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts (2:4):
So for those who were prone to be discouraged because it seemed to be nothing in comparison with the past, the Lord encourages them to be strong to continue, and again the promise, “For I am with you.”
And according to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remains among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts (2:5-7).
Now this, no doubt, is going out now in prophecy to the Great Tribulation period when God is going to shake the world once again. Actually, in the book of Hebrews, twelfth chapter, we read, “For the Lord said, ‘And once again I am going to shake the world like it has never been shaken before. So that everything that can be shaken will be brought down, and only that which cannot be shaken shall remain.’” Tell you what; I don’t want to be in downtown L.A. when that takes place. Once again God said, “I’m going to shake the world until everything that can be shaken will be destroyed.”
What folly it is for us to put all of our energies and efforts and all into the material things, because they can all be shaken.
How we need to be putting our time, our energies, our efforts into spiritual things, for they can’t be shaken. When everything else is shaken and destroyed, that will still last. You have only one life; it will soon be passed. And only what you do for Jesus Christ is going to last. Everything else that you’ve built for yourself, your whole estate or whatever, is wood, hay and stubble; it’s all going to burn. Only what you have laid up in spiritual store is going to be lasting. That ought to speak to every one of us tonight, to again consider. God is saying, “Consider, consider, consider your priorities.” What is first in your life? What is taking the prime place in your mind and in your life?
After the shaking of the world, after the destruction of this present material world as it is, then the Desire of nations will come. The glorious coming again of Jesus Christ, and then the glory of God once again filling the temple.
The temple, of course, is described in the book of Ezekiel.
The silver is mine, the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts (2:8-9).
So this marvelous prophecy of Haggai when the Lord returns, the Desire of nations and the glory of God fills the temple. It is in that place that the Lord will give peace.
Now in the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, [so now we are two months after the first prophecy] in the second year of Darius, [same second year of Darius] came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one is bearing holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt he does touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No (2:10-12).
Now, there were all kinds of laws that God gave in Leviticus concerning holy and unholy things. So there were many ways by which you could defile yourself. Then anything you touched would become defiled. If you would touch a dead body, then you would be considered unholy. And, if you touched anything else, then that would also be considered unholy. So he’s asking, “The priest is bearing this holy flesh, and with his skirt he touches something that is common, is the holy flesh then still considered holy?” The answer then is no.
It is interesting how that the priest and the scribes and Pharisees in the days of Jesus, when they would go down the street, would wrap their coats tightly around them. Because they didn’t want their coats flaring out and touching some unclean person. So they were very careful not to let their robes flare around. They might accidentally hit one of you unclean persons and they would be defiled. This is that kind of holiness that Jesus, of course, spoke so much against, this hypocritical kind of a thing. “I’m holier than thou. Don’t touch me because I’m too holy to be touched, or be in touch with people.” They, of course, found fault with Jesus because He ate with the common people. He ate with the sinners and the publicans. He would partake of the same soup with them, or the same bread. They found fault with Him for that.
Now the second question:
If one that is unclean by a dead body, [that is, if he has touched a dead body, and is thus ceremonially unclean] and if he touches any of these things, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, Yes, it would be unclean, if he would touch anything being in an unclean state. Then answered Haggai, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean (2:13-14).
So this law of that which is unclean by touching unclean things, there was this mixture. Trying to mix the spiritual with the material, and the Lord said, “Hey, it’s all unclean.”
And now I pray you, consider [and again, the calling for the consideration] from this day onward, from before the stone was laid upon the stone in the temple of the LORD: Since those days were, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, and there were but ten: one came to the pressvat to draw fifty vessels out of the press, but there were only twenty (2:15-16).
In other words, “From these days that you had your shortages, these days when there wasn’t enough to go around, the days before you started this building again of the temple. Now mark this, and consider this.”
When I smote you with the blasting and the mildew and the hail of all of the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to me, saith the LORD. But consider now from this day onward, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider now this. Is the seed yet in the barn? yes, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day [the Lord said] I will bless you (2:17-19).
So He’s saying now, “Look, you’ve been going through some rough times financially. You haven’t had enough to go around. You’ve been going through hard times, but it’s because your priorities were wrong. You were putting your needs and yourself first. Put Me first, and I’ll take care of your needs.”
Now as they began to build the temple again, and began to give themselves in the labor in the temple, the prophet came and said, “Now look, mark this day. Things are going to change. From here on out you’re going to have plenty. Now you’ve got your priorities straight. Now you’ve put God in the place where He should be, first in your life. Having put God first, God will now take care of you, and God will now provide for you.”
Such is a universal truth and a universal law that knows no time, that knows no dispensation. Put God first in your life, and God will take care of the rest of the things of your life. Put the things of your life first, and you’re always going to be running short. You’ll never have enough. It is a fallacy of spiritual logic to say, “We will start tithing when we have enough money to do so.” It’s like the fellow says, “I’m going to get married just as soon as I have enough money to do so.” He’s still a bachelor; he’ll never have enough. You’ve got to step out in faith.
Now once again the word of the Lord came to Haggai, the fifth time, the final time.
In the twenty fourth day of the month the same day (2:20),
So in two months all of Haggai’s prophecies. I find that very fascinating. I’ve been at it for years and years and years.
Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth (2:21);
This, again, is a reference to the Great Tribulation period.
I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, I will destroy the strength of kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, I will take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and I will make thee as a sign: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts (2:22-23).
Now in the book of Revelation, chapter 11, John speaks of the two witnesses that God is going to send. One of the two witnesses we know to be Elijah from the last word of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, where the Lord said, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” So Elijah preceding the Lord; one of the two witnesses.
There has been an awful lot of speculation as to the identity of the second witness. Some have said Enoch. Because he did not die but was translated into heaven, and Elijah did not die, so these two men come to meet their appointment with death. Others say Moses, because Moses represented the law, and Elijah represented the prophets. Those spokesmen for God to the people, or to the Jewish nation, always the law and the prophets speak to the Jews.
I’ve never shared with anybody my beliefs on this. I’ve always given the options that have been spoken of by the various Bible teachers. But I personally feel that Zerubbabel will be the other witness. Because the Lord here declares that when He comes to overthrow the throne and the kingdoms, to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, that, “I will take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, and I will make thee as a sign. For I have chosen thee saith the Lord of hosts.”
Now, not to just dump that on you without anything else. In chapter 4 of the book of Zechariah, which we will be getting next week. Let me give you just a little insight into next week’s.
And the angel that talked with me came again, and he waked me as a man that is awakened out of his sleep. And he said unto me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I’ve looked, and behold, there’s a candlestick of all gold, with a bowl up on the top of it, and seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes are leading to the seven lamps which are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side.” So I answered, and I spake to the angel that talked with me saying, “What are these my lord?” And the angel that talked with me answered, and said unto me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” Then he answered and said unto me, “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.’” Who are thou, O great mountain before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, and shall bring forth a headstone thereof with shoutings crying, “Grace, grace unto it” (Zechariah 4:1-7).
So here is Zerubbabel, the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel signified in these two olive trees with the pipes that lead into the candlesticks.
Now in the book of Revelation, chapter 11, where we read of these two witnesses, beginning with verse 3, “And I will give power unto My two witnesses and they shall prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” We are told that the candlestick was actually the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might, nor by power,” and so here that prophecy, or that of Zerubbabel is referred to in Revelation in context with the two witnesses. Something to think about. Doesn’t really make any difference, but it’s interesting with all of the speculation. Throw that into the hopper too.
Shall we pray.
Father, how our hearts yearn for the return of Jesus Christ. How the world so desperately needs the touch of His love, the experiencing of His grace, and His saving power. Lord, we see the earth being shaken now, the kingdoms being shaken. We see the turmoil, the distress, the perplexities. O Lord, how we need for Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done here on this earth. Lord, man in exercising his own will, following his own passions and greed has almost destroyed this beautiful planet that You have created. We’ve raped its resources. We’ve polluted its atmosphere and waters. O God, how we plundered and ravaged Thy beautiful world. Oh God, how desperately we need Your help. How desperately the world needs Your help tonight. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, establish Your kingdom. Bring peace and righteousness, lest man destroy himself. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Shall we stand.
May the Lord bless and keep you through the week. May He increase your understanding of His love and of His purpose for your life. May He help you as you consider your own priorities. They talk about the triangle with a broad base, and that every time you cut off from the bottom of the base you are decreasing the size of the triangle, to where if you continue to cut off, ultimately you’ll be left with just the apex. Now, if all of the things were cut off, the extraneous under your life, until there was only the apex left, what would be the apex of your life? What is the top priority? What is that which you hold most dear? If it is anything other than Jesus Christ, you’re not a Christian. He should be the last to go. He should be top, the apex of your whole existence, the Lord of your life. “Consider,” the Lord says, “now consider this, now consider this.” And go ahead and consider your own life this week, how much time you’re giving to television, and how much time you’re giving to your fellowship with Him. How much time you’re giving to your hobbies; how much time you’re giving to Him. Consider yourself, your life. Maybe there’s a reason behind some of the problems you’re experiencing, because your priorities are wrong. You get your priorities right, and I guarantee, mark this date the fourth month and the eighteenth day. Things will change if you get your priorities right. God bless you as you examine your own heart and your life, and examine your priorities, and as you seek to make things right with God.