The Chastisement – 3

I shall sweep away everything off the face of the earth,” declares Yahweh. “I shall sweep away humans and animals, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, I shall topple the wicked and wipe all people off the face of the earth,” declares Yahweh. “I shall raise my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem, and from this place I will wipe out Ba’al’s remnant, the very name of his priests, and those who prostrate themselves on the roofs before the array of heaven, and those who prostrate themselves before Yahweh but swear by Milcom, and those who have turned their back on Yahweh, who do not seek Yahweh and do not consult Him.” Silence before Lord Yahweh, for the Day of Yahweh is near! Yahweh has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests. On the Day of Yahweh’s sacrifice, “I shall punish the courtiers, the royal princes and who dress in outlandish clohes. On that day I shall punish all who go up the Step and fill the Temple of their lords, with violence and deceit. On that Day,” declares Yahweh, uproar will be heard from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter and a great crash from the hill. Wail, you who live in the Hollow, for it is all over with merchants, all the money-bags have been wiped out!”

“When that time comes, I shall search Jerusalem by lamplight and punish the men stagnating over the remains of their wine, who say in their hearts, ‘Yahweh can do nothing, either good or bad.’ For this, their wealth will be looted and their houses laid in ruins; they will build houses but not live in them, they will plant vineyards but not drink their wine.” The great Day of Yahweh is near, near, and coming with great speed. How bitter the sound of the Day of Yahweh, the Day when the warrior shouts his cry of war. That Day is a day of retribution, a day of distress and tribulation, a day of ruin and of devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of cloud and thick fog, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against fortified town and high corner-tower. “I shall bring such distress on humanity that they will grope their way like the blind for having sinned against Yahweh. Their blood will be poured out like mud, yes, their corpses like dung; nor will their silver or gold be able to save them. On the Day of Yahweh’s anger, by the fire of His jealousy, the whole earth will be consumed.” For He will destroy, yes, annihilate everyone living on earth (Zep. 1:2-18).

Gather together, gather together, nations without shame, before you are dispensed like chaff which disappears in a day; before the Day of Yahweh’s anger overtakes you. Seek Yahweh, all you humble of the earth who obey His commands. Seek uprightness, seek humility: you may perhaps find shelter on the Day of Yahweh’s anger. For Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon reduced to ruins; Ashdod will be driven out it broad daylight and Ekron uprooted. Disaster to the members of the coastal league, to the nation of the Cherethites. This is the word of Yahweh against you: “I shall subdue you, land of the Philistines, I shall destroy you till there are no inhabitants left; and the coastal league will be reduced to pasture land, to grazing ground for shephers and folds for sheep; and the league will belong to the remnant of the House of Judah; they will pasture their flocks there, at night they will rest in the houses of Ashkelon; for, when Yahweh their God has punished them, He will restore their fortunes.” 

“I have heard the taunt of Moab and the insults of the Ammonites, as they taunted My people and boasted of their own domains. For this, as I live,” declares Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, “Moab will become like Sodom and the Ammonites like Gomorrah:” a realm of nettles, a heap of salt, a desolation for ever. What is left of My people will plunder them, the survivors of My nation will take their Heritage. This will be the price of their pride for having taunted and boasted over the people of Yahweh Sabaoth. Yahweh will be fearsome to them, for He will scatter all the gods of the earth, and they will bow down to Him, each from his own place – all the islands of the nations. You Ethiopians too will be run through by my sword.”

He will raise His hand against the north and bring Assyria down in ruins; He will make Nineveh a waste, as dry as a desert. Flocks will rest inside them, so will wild animals, pelican and porcupine will rest around her cornices at night; the owl will hoot at the window, the raven croak on the doorstep – for the cedar has been torn down. This is what the city will be like, once living happy and carefree and thinking to itself, ‘I have no rival – not I!’ And what will it be now? A ruin, a lair for wild beasts to rest in, and everyone who passes by will whistle and throw up his hands (Zep. 2:1-15).

Disaster to the rebellious, the befouled, the tyrannical city! She has not listened to the call, she has not bowed to correction, she has not trusted in Yahweh, she has not drawn near to her God. The rulers she has are roaring lions, her judges are wolves of the wastelands which leave nothing over for the morning. Her prophets are braggarts, impostors, her priests have profaned what is holy and violated the Law. Yahweh the Upright is in her, He does no wrong, morning by morning He gives judgment, each dawn unfailingly; but the wrong-doer knows no shame. “I have exterminated the nations, their corner-towers are in ruins; I have emptied their streets, no one walks through them; their cities have been destroyed and are now deserted and unpeopled. I thought, ‘At least you will fear Me, at least you will bow to correction,’ and none of the punishments I brought on them will disappear from their view. But no, it only made them more anxious to do whatever was corrupt. So wait for Me,” declares Yahweh, “for the day when I rise as accuser, for I am determined to gather the nations, to assemble the kingdoms, and on you to vent My fury, the whole heat of My anger. For the whole earth will be destroyed by the fire of My jealousy. Yes, then I shall purge the lips of the peoples, so that all may invoke the name of Yahweh and serve Him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, My suppliants will bring Me tribute. When that Day comes you will feel never again be ashamed of all the deeds with you once rebelled against Me, for I shall rid you of those who exult in your pride; never again will you strut on My holy mountain. But in you I shall leave surviving a humble and lowly people, and those who are left in Israel will take refuge in the name of Yahweh. They will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. But they will be able to graze and rest with no one to alarm them.”

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has repealed your sentence, He has turned your enemy away. Yahweh is King among you, Israel, you have nothing more to fear. When that day comes, the message for Jerusalem will be, “Zion, have no fear; do not let your hands fall limp. Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, He will renew you by His love, He will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival. “I have taken away your misfortune, no longer need you bear the disgrace of it. I am taking action here and now against your oppressors. When that time comes I rescue the lame and gather the strays, and I will win them praise and renown when I restore their fortunes. At that time I shall be your guide, at that time when I gather you in, I shall give you praise and renown among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes under your own eyes,” declares Yahweh (Zep. 3:1-20).