Zephaniah Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter One of Zephaniah

Zephaniah 1:1-3

"The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. ‘I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,’ says the Lord; ‘I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,’ says the Lord."

Passages From The Writings

Prophets and Psalms (P&P)

  • "All knowledge (cognitio) and understanding of truth will perish."

AC 411

  • "That the last time of vastation must exist before a new church can arise, is frequently declared by the Lord in the Prophets, and is called ‘vastation’ or ‘laying waste,’ in reference to the celestial things of faith; and ‘desolation,’ in relation to the spiritual things of faith. It is also spoken of as ‘consummation’ and ‘cutting off.’" Zephaniah 1:1-18 is cited as an example.

Apocalypse Revealed (AR) 290

  • "[By]…‘every created thing which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea,’ are meant angels… Their being called ‘created thing’ is according to the style of the Word, in which, by all created things, as well those which belong to the animal kingdom as those which belong to the vegetable kingdom, are signified various things with man, in general such things as belong to his will or affection, and such as pertain to his understanding or thought…since the Word is written by mere correspondences, similar things are said of the angels of heaven and the men of the church; in proof of which a few passages…shall be adduced…" Zephaniah 1:2-3 is cited.

AR 567

  • "…harmless and useful beasts signify man as to good affections, and noxious and useless beasts signify man as to his evil affections… The reason is, because the affections of a man, in the spiritual world, appear at a distance as beasts…and beasts, considered in themselves, are nothing but forms of natural affections… That men, as to their affections, are meant by ‘beasts,’…‘by beasts’ are signified men as to their affections. By ‘man and beasts’ together is signified man as to spiritual and natural affection (as in the following passages)…" Zephaniah 1:2-3 and Zephaniah 2:13-14 are cited.

AE 342 [9]

  • "‘Man and beast’ when mentioned together signify the interior and exterior affections of good…and ‘the fowl of the heavens and the fishes of the sea’ signify the affections of truth and the thoughts spiritual and natural, but in the passages here cited, that these are about to perish." Zephaniah 1:2-3 is cited.

AE 650 [17]

  • "In these passages [Zephaniah 1:2-3] ‘man and beast’ signifies what is interior or spiritual, and ‘beast’ what is exterior or natural; and therefore ‘man’ signifies the spiritual affection of truth, from which is all intelligence, and ‘beast’ the natural affection corresponding to the spiritual. What is exterior or natural is signified by ‘beast,’ because man, in respect to his external or natural man is nothing but a beast; for he enjoys like desires and also pleasures, appetites and senses, so that in these respects man is entirely similar to the beast; therefore the natural man may be called the animal man. But what is internal or spiritual is signified by ‘man,’ because it is in respect to his internal or spiritual that man is man…"

AC 776 [4]

  • "Here [Zephaniah 1:3] ‘man and beast’ denote the things which are of love and of good; the ‘fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea,’ the things which are of the understanding, thus which are of truth. These are called ‘stumbling-blocks’ because goods and truths are stumbling-blocks to the wicked, but not beasts and birds; and they are also plainly spoken of ‘man’."

AC 991

  • "In [Zephaniah 1:3] the ‘fowls of the heavens’ denote things of reason, and the ‘fishes of the sea’ lower rational things, that is, man’s thought from sensuous memory-knowledges."

AC 7523 [1&2]

  • "…‘beast’ denotes the affection of good, and in the opposite sense the cupidity of evil… ‘Man and beast’ denote interior and exterior good…" Zephaniah 1:3 is cited as an example.

AR 405

  • "…[in the spiritual world] the affections and the perceptions and the thoughts of spirits and angels appear at a distance in the forms of animals or creatures upon the earth, which are called beasts, of creatures in the air which are called birds, and of creatures in the sea which are called fishes, therefore in the Word mention is so often made of ‘beasts,’ ‘birds,’ and ‘fishes,’ by which nothing else is meant…" Zephaniah 1:3 is cited as an example.

AR 757

  • "…by ‘bird’ is signified everything that is of the thought or the understanding and thence of the design…" Zephaniah 1:3 is listed among many examples from the Word.

AE 280 [8]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:3)…‘To take away man and beast’ means to take away the spiritual affection of truth; ‘to take away the fowl of the heavens and the fishes of the sea’ means to take away spiritual truths and natural truths; and ‘to cut off man from the surfaces of the earth’ means to cut off the affection of truth and wisdom."

AE 513 [8]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:3)…‘the beast of the field’ means man’s voluntary faculty, ‘the fowl of heaven’ his intellectual faculty, and ‘the fish of the sea’ his knowing faculty…"

AE 1100 [16]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:3) ‘To consume man and beast’ signifies to destroy spiritual and natural affection; ‘to consume the birds of the heavens and the fishes of the sea’ signifies to destroy the perceptions and knowledges of truth; and as these signify things pertaining to the church it is said, ‘I will cut off man from the faces of the land,’ ‘man’ signifying everything of the church."

Derived Doctrine

"The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah…"

  • "Coming" denotes communication by influx. (AC 5249)
  • AC 5272 teaches that "the Word of the Lord" signifies divine truth, from which all things, which are things, exist.
  • Most importantly, we get the sense that we are being shown that all that follows in this prophecy is the Lord speaking and not the prophet. His word is the "all" for our spiritual good and truth.

"…the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah…"

  • Four generations are mentioned in this first verse. We need to reflect on the possible correspondential meaning of Zephaniah’s lineage. It is necessary for us to consider the meaning of the number four, the idea of a generation, and the offices (uses) that some of Zephaniah’s forefathers served. Especially must we note Zephaniah’s connection with the royal family of king Hezekiah and king Josiah.
  • Four signifies union, or disunion in a negative sense, because it is two pairs. (AC 1686) Four signifies the duration and state of temptation. (AC 1856) Four signifies what is conjoined to the full in repayment for an injury or injustice. Four signifies the restoration of interior good to the full. (AC 9103 [2])
  • Generations signify those who are perpetually being regenerated, or created anew. (AC 1041) Passages in AC 208 and 280 to 285 help us to reflect on the meaning of "fourth posterity." "…the fourth posterity of the Most Ancient Church [occurred when they allowed] themselves to be seduced by self-love and were unwilling to believe what was revealed, unless they saw it confirmed by the things of sense and of memory-knowledge."

  • AC 280-285 gives us the meaning of seven posterities. The fourth posterity denotes a state where "natural good [begins] to be dissipated…"
  • I cannot find a representation of the name Cushi, nor can I find a meaning for his name. Is his name a shortening of the name Cushite?
  • Gedaliah’s name means "Jehovah is great." Other then this insight, we have no doctrinal teachings about him.
  • Amariah’s name means "Jehovah has spoken." Amariah was a son of Hezekiah, and he was a subordinate Levite, one of six assistants appointed to help in the distribution of offerings. (II Chronicles 31:15)
  • Hezekiah’s name means "Jehovah is my strength." Hezekiah succeeded his pagan-minded father, Ahaz, and led his people through some frightening days when the Assyrians were on a campaign to conquer all the nations around them. Hezekiah sought to bring the people out of their pagan worship. He destroyed shrines, high places, pillars, Asherah images, and any venerated icon he found being worshipped in the kingdom.
  • Unfortunately, Manasseh, his son, did not continue with the work of spiritual cleansing. Instead, Manasseh brought the nation to a low point of spirituality by rebuilding the "high places," restoring the altars of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom, and Baal. Manasseh allowed the worship of the stars, sun, moon, and astral bodies within the temples. To keep Assyria from attacking his kingdom, he paid tribute to their deity Esarhaddon.
  • All of this information is useful when we consider Josiah’s reign. He succeeded Manasseh and sought to restore the worship of the Lord among the people. Zephaniah was called during this period of reformation. Josiah’s name means "may Jehovah give."
  • Priestly uses represent the Lord as to the Divine good and the work of salvation. (AR 854) Priests are to teach truth, and so lead to good, and to the Lord. (AC 10794)
  • Kings and rulers signify divine truth and divine good in the Lord and from Him. (AE 446 [16])

All of these derived doctrines seem to offer us important clues when we consider the importance and meaning of "four generations" in this passage. Their names, the successive seed that passed on the inherited tendencies toward good and evil in their souls, and their uses testify what tendencies toward good and evil the generations had inherited and to what state Zephaniah was called to speak the words of the Lord.

Remember that the purpose of derived doctrine is to help us see the spiritual sense more fully. Without doctrine, the words about the Lord consuming everything from the face of the earth—men, beasts, birds, and fish of the sea—seem harsh and vindictive.

Putting It All Together

"All knowledge and understanding of truth will perish." (P&P) "I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land. I will consume man and beast…the birds…the fish and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land, says the Lord."

Taken at face value, these are chilling words. How could Zephaniah’s listeners ignore or brush off the Lord’s promise to "utterly consume" and "cut off man from the face of the earth"?

The direct teachings of doctrine indicate such things were to happen within the hearts and minds of the people of Judah. "Vastations must exist before a new church can arise…" (AC 411)

There were 20 kings of Judah prior to the great exiles. Of those 20, 12 were bad kings and 8 were good kings. Manasseh, a bad king, ruled 55 years. During that reign, he allowed serious spiritual disorders to exist and thrive in the kingdom. His evil leadership provided the means and example for the people to move away from the Lord. So the minds and hearts of the people were in great errors, evils, and sins. In the words of our text, their hearts and minds were providing "stumbling blocks" to all that was holy and good.

The Writings picture the "spawning medium" of hell as a self-love out of order. If a church is to be saved or preserved, the stumbling blocks of self-love must be emptied and consumed. AC 5258 expresses what this consuming means: falsities that are not of charity or of faith must be exterminated. This cleansing occurs in the voluntary (love), in the intellectual (wisdom), and in the knowing (use) faculties. Hence we have the representations of the beast, the fowl, and the fish. Each of these inner vessels required a Divine purging to be saved and to make room for the new church to rise up.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:1-3.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. As you read the literal sense about the utter consummation that the Lord would bring about, did you sense or anticipate that this was a spiritual event? Why?

  2. Can we imagine what it would be like to live under total spiritual chaos for 55 years? What effect would so many years of worshipping multiple gods have on us and our children? How would this confuse our understanding of the true nature of the Lord?

  3. Spiritual stumbling blocks are something we experience daily. For example, when we express a doctrinally based personal belief, it is not always welcomed. An exchange of views on doctrine may bring us into a "point and counterpoint" argument with someone. Stumbling blocks are troublesome and hurtful. How can we face them? Can we avoid them? How can we overcome them without compromising the Lord’s truth? How can we faithfully present the Lord’s truth with charity and conviction?

  4. What did you take from the information about the four generations of Zephaniah? What correspondence was most interesting to you? How did the representation of generations add to your reflection? Was the possibility that Zephaniah’s lineage linked him to a royal family of any significance?

  5. What do you understand about the concept of vastations? Are vastations welcome, to a degree, as a necessary event for the New Church to begin and flourish?

  6. Please note that the Lord promises to empty the church of falsity. Doesn’t that promise give us some hope and confidence while we are waging war against hell?

Zephaniah 1:4-6

"I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests – those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by Milcom; those who have turned back from following the Lord, and have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him."

Passages From The Writings


  • "The church will perish because it is in mere falsities and evils in respect to doctrine and in respect to worship."

AE 608 [7]

  • "As the ancients were allowed to swear by Jehovah God, it follows that it was an enormous evil to swear falsely or to swear to a lie, as is evident from these passages." Zephaniah 1:4-6 is cited.

AC 10184 [3]

  • "As a ‘roof’ signified good, therefore the ancients had roofs on their houses where they walked, and where they worshiped, as can be seen in…Zephaniah 1:5."

AR 919

  • "Since by ‘the sun,’ in the opposite sense, is signified self-love, and by ‘the moon’ one’s own intelligence and faith from himself, therefore, it was an abomination to adore the sun, moon, and stars, as may appear…in Zephaniah 1:5; and that such were stoned."

AE 573 [8]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:5)…‘the host of the heavens’ means the sun, moon, and stars, because these signify all goods and truths in the complex, but here all evils and falsities in the complex; for the ‘sun’ in the contrary sense, as here, signifies all the evil flowing from the love of self, the ‘moon’ the falsity of faith, and the ‘stars’ falsities in general (that the ‘sun, moon, and stars,’ in the natural world, when they are worshiped instead of the sun and moon of the angelic heaven, signify direful evils and falsities….)."

Derived Doctrine

"I will stretch out My hand against Judah…"

  • AC 7205 offers us an insight into the meaning of stretching out. "…from the signification of a ‘stretched out arm,’ as being Divine power… [That a] ‘stretched out arm’ denotes omnipotence or Divine power, is because when an arm appears stretched out in the heavens, there is represented power from the Divine… Hence then it is, that in the Word, Divine power is very often expressed by a ‘stretched out arm,’ and by a ‘strong hand,’…" AE 684 instructs us that the hand signifies the omnipotence of truth from good, and the arm represents the omnipotence of good by truth.
  • The Lord opposing or being against Judah seems obvious. Judah was worshiping idols and other gods, and making unholy pledges. The Lord’s omnipotence and power would come against such evils and sins.

"…against all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem."

  • AE 741 indicates that to "inhabit" signifies those of the church who are in (or lacking) the good of doctrine, and thence the good of life. AR 558 says inhabiting signifies those who are principled in the doctrine of faith alone and thence in the evils of life.
  • Jerusalem has a positive and negative correspondence. AC 2909 notes that Jerusalem signifies the Lord’s spiritual church and His celestial church. AC 2466 [3] notes that in the opposite sense, Jerusalem represents the church perverted as to truths.

"I will cut off every trace of Baal…the names of idolatrous priests with the pagan priests…"

  • AE 315 [23] explains that to "cut" signifies that divine truth shall be taken from the people but shall live again in a new church. AC 9316 explains that to "cut out" signifies that hell is to be removed solely through the protection of heaven and by the hand of the Lord.
  • Baal signifies worship motivated by the evils of self-love and love of the world. (AE 160 [2])
  • Idolatrous priests represent those who should have known better but chose to blaspheme and falsify the truths.
  • Pagan priests were gentiles. They polluted truth because of their ignorance. Both idolatrous and pagan forms of worship need to have their names (essence or qualities) wiped out by the Lord when He establishes His new church.

"…those who swear by Milcom…"

  • Milcom or Malcam is an Ammonite god also called Molech. Scholars believe that Molech was a pagan deity to whom children were sacrificed as a means of making the most binding vows or pledges, to emphasis the sanctity of a vow.
  • The literal sense describes the followers of Molech as people who turn their backs on the Lord. Does the word "traitor" seem to be implied here?

Putting It All Together

P&P sums up these verses by saying, "The church will perish because it is in mere falsities and evils in respect to doctrine and in respect to worship."

The people of Judah were swearing by the name of the Lord and yet not meaning it. There was a showy appearance (the rooftop walk) that they were doing the right things. They tried to mix all forms of faith together to please everyone, to accommodate the preferences for differing forms of worship. Those who turned away from following the Lord had "not sought Him nor inquired of Him."

Throughout the Word, the Lord reminds His people to "choose this day whom you will serve." He asks them how long they will limp between opinions. He tells us that we cannot serve God and mammon. We will love one and hate the other.

The Lord said He would stretch out His hand. His divine omnipotence of truth from good would eradicate the vain promises of Judah. The twisted doctrines of the Jewish priests and the ignorance of the pagan priests had to be cut out of the heart and mind of Judah. Cutting it out seems like an appropriate representation. Like a cancer, self-love has to be completely removed along with all its extending tentacles. When the Lord deals with evil and sin, there is no room for a compromise with the hells. No deals. It has to be done the Lord’s way. He sees and knows the way of truth—doctrine—and He builds the New Church where open and loving worship will flow from the heart and mind.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:4-6.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. As you read this short section, how did you respond to the imagery of the Lord’s "stretched arm"? The Divine power of the Lord’s arm and hand stretching to cover all things gives us a sense of His protective, controlling power. It is a powerful image to hold onto, especially when hell tries to convince us the Lord’s arms are too short or small to help everyone.

  2. What images are conjured up by the picture of the people of Judea walking on the housetop swearing vows to the Lord? Why does this seem representative of what a vain, pompous, spiritually empty person would be like? Can you think of stories in the Word that show a contrasting type of person?

  3. The inhabitants of Judah lapsed into a forgetful spirit; they did not seek the Lord, nor did they ask about Him. How can we learn from their mistakes? How can we sincerely "inquire" about the Lord with interest and care?

  4. Once again, let’s think about the cutting off or cutting out of dead falsity within our hearts. How does this "surgery" feel? Painful or bearable? Is it life saving? How is it accomplished?

  5. Can you identify with what traitor priests and pagan priests do to our lives? Any current examples come to mind?

  6. Have you ever "sworn by the Lord’s name" and not kept the promise? Can you imagine a situation where someone intentionally "swears to a lie"?

  7. Perjury is an action the courts hold to be a heinous crime. Do life experiences sometimes justify or excuse "white" lies? Why or why not? Is there a limit after which you won’t tolerate false "swearing"?

Zephaniah 1:7-8

"Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand, for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. And it shall be, 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 foreign apparel."

Passages From The Writings


  • "The Lord will come and gather [men] together to the church."

Doctrine of the Lord 4

  • "…I shall in this first chapter merely adduce passages from the Word which contain the expressions ‘that day,’ ‘in that day,’ and ‘in that time;’ In…Zephaniah 1:7, 8, 10, 12, 14-16, 18…"

True Christian Religion (TCR) 82

  • "See…the places where the Lord’s coming is called ‘the day of Jehovah’…Zephaniah 1:7-18…"

TCR 688-689

  • "…John was the prophet sent to make ready the way of Jehovah God, who should descend into the world and accomplish redemption…by means of…baptism…men were introduced into the future church of the Lord, and in heaven were inserted among those who were there looking for and longing for the Messiah; and they were thus guarded by angels, that devils from hell might not break forth and destroy them. Wherefore it is written in…Zephaniah 1:7-18… From all this it is clear that unless a way had been made ready for Jehovah…the effect of which in heaven was to close up the hells and guard the Jews against total destruction [they would all have perished]."

AR 704

  • "That ‘the great day of God Almighty" signifies the coming of the Lord, and then the New Church, is evident from many passages in the Word, as from these…Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Zephaniah 2:2, 3 and Zephaniah 3: 11, 16, 19, 20…"

AC 10287 [15]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:8)…‘those clothed in the clothing of a foreigner’ denote those who are in falsities; for ‘princes and the king’s sons,’ upon whom was visitation, denote the chief truths, and in the opposite sense the chief falsities (that princes have this signification, see n. 1482, 2089, 5044; and that ‘kings’ denote truths themselves, and in the opposite sense falsities themselves…) consequently ‘the king’s sons’ denote that which is derived therefrom."

AR 20

  • "He who does not know the spiritual signification of ‘kings and priests,’ may be hallucinated by many things which are related concerning them in the prophets…as in these in the prophets…" Zephaniah 1:8 is one of many passages cited.

AR 166

  • "The Jewish church is here described, that to it were given truths, because it had the Word; but that they falsified them…" Zephaniah 1:8 is one many examples cited.

AE 31 [5]

  • "‘Kings’ are also frequently mentioned by the prophets in the Old Testament; and there likewise are meant those who, from the Lord, are in truths from good, and in a contrary sense, those who are in falsities from evil; as in…Zephaniah 1:8…"

AE 195 [12]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:8)…‘Princes’ and ‘king’s sons’ signify those who are in truths, and in the contrary sense, as here, those who are in falsities; these are said to be ‘clothed with the garment of the alien,’ because ‘garment’ signifies falsity, and ‘alien’ those who are out of the church and do not acknowledge the truths of the church."

Doctrine of the Lord 14 [4-5]

  • The Lord’s advent into the world, and His subsequent victory in the Word are described as "…they are dismayed, and that their strong ones being beaten down… His advent into the world for this purpose is meant by, ‘that day is to the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth a day of vengeance, that He may take vengeance of His enemies." Zephaniah 1:8, 15-16 are cited among other verses.

Derived Doctrine

"Be silent in the presence of the Lord God…"

  • AC 8176 explains that "silence" signifies an awareness that nothing can or will be accomplished by one’s own strength. Psalm 46:10 carries this theme: "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 4:4 urges us to "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still." "The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him." (Habakkuk 2:20) "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." (Revelation 8:1)

  • AE 487 explains the meaning of the words in Revelation 8:1: "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven…" This "signifies astonishment that the church is such and that its end is at hand… [and signifies] the destruction of the church and the damnation of all in whom there was no church; that is, in whom there was no conjunction of truth and good or of faith and charity; for this conjunction makes the church in every one."

"For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests."

  • AC 5998 explains that a sacrifice signifies worship from charity, or from truths which are from good.
  • A worthy sacrifice will have a Divine influx that comes from the Divine Intellectual. Thus, we can see why it is said in our verse that the Lord has prepared a sacrifice. He gives His people a special sacrifice of worship from charity and invites guests to His sacrifice.
  • AC 4205 (Elliott translation) explains the meaning of "guest" this way: "…good flows in from the Lord, but does not become fixed within anything apart from truths, for truths receive good as a guest since the two are congenial…good flowing in from the Lord is able to be received as a guest."

"And it shall be."

  • The word "Amen" means may it ever be so. Doctrine of Faith 6 explains: "…truth and faith are one word in the Hebrew language, namely Amuna or Amen." "And it shall be" seems to be an utterance of the word Amen.

Putting It All Together

"The Lord will come and gather [men] together to the church." (P&P)

Within your heart and mind, picture Zephaniah speaking these words to the people of the church: "Be silent in the presence of the Lord God." In the place of any terror, focus on this calming thought: The Lord is asking us to be still. For just a moment, put aside all other plans and worries. Let your soul drink in the message that the Lord is in charge. His plan, His Providence wants to give us a sacrifice that is full of holiness and a sense of joyous worship. The Lord wants us to receive an influx of His Love and Wisdom, so that we recognize that we can welcome Him in as our desired guest.

There is a required state that we need to create in ourselves and offer up to the Lord. We need to get rid of the "princes and the king’s children." We need to throw off such things that are like "foreign apparel," the pretense, the act of looking good on the outside with evil and sin underneath.

The words of the Lord, "Be still and know that I am God…" carry a soothing message that is important to hear in our "as-of-self" lifestyle. The Lord is in charge, and all will be well with those who trust in His providential guidance.

His first advent defeated all of the disorder the hells sought to use against Him. None of their tricks worked. Now we have a prophetical message that the Lord will "come and gather together the church." Which church? The New Church. How do we know this? The prophets repeat this message over and over again. They are wonderful words of life. They are words to carry in the heart and mind while battling the bullies of hell. They are words worth repeating often.

Let us prayerfully recite these quotes from the Word:

  • "Be silent in the presence of the Lord God."
  • "The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him."
  • "Be still and know that I am God."
  • "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still."

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:7-8.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Are you a calm soul, or are you a hard-driven, schedule-minded soul? Do you recognize that you need some moments of silence to hear the Lord? What can you do to find the time for spiritual silence? Can you spare five minutes each day?

  2. What would you describe as foreign or alien clothes one puts over the mind?

  3. Are you aware that all of the prophets are messengers of the New Church? Why is this important?

  4. The "day of the Lord is at hand." The Lord has prepared a sacrifice, and He is going to invite His guests. What application can be made of this in our day? Are we on the guest list? Are those outside of the New Church on the guest list? What might the "sacrifice" be?

  5. Please share in the discussion other questions you have thought about while reading this portion of the chapter.

Zephaniah 1:9-11

"In the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold, who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. And there shall be on that day, says the Lord, the sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, a wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off."

Passages From The Writings


  • "Then those who have adulterated the truths of the Word will perish, and are to be cast into hell."

AR 624

  • "…by ‘deceit’ is signified speech, preaching, and doctrine…and by ‘deceit’ is signified persuasion to evil by falsity, properly from cunning and design; for he who persuades to anything from cunning or deceit also persuades from design; for cunning or deceit proposes something to itself, conceals its purpose, and does it when opportunity offers …" Zephaniah 1:9 is cited among many other references.

AE 866 [3-4]

  • "…‘deceit signifies falsity that is not from ignorance of truth, but from deliberation, thus from the purpose of deceiving…‘violence and blood’ signify perversion of truth and falsification of the Word…" Zephaniah 1:9 is cited as an example.

AC 375

  • "A ‘voice crying,’ and the ‘voice of a cry,’ are common forms of expression in the Word, and are applied to every case where there is noise, tumult, or disturbance, and also on the occasion of any happy event… In the present passage it denotes accusation." Zephaniah 1:9-10 is cited as one of many examples.

AC 2240 [3]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:10, 13) where…a ‘cry’ is predicated of the falsities which lay waste."

AR 885

  • "That ‘crying,’ in the Word, is said of grief and fear of falsities from hell, and thence of devastation by them, appears from the following passages…" Zephaniah 1:10, 13 are cited as examples.

Derived Doctrine

"In the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold…"

  • The words "in the same day remind us that on the same day that He invites guests to the special holy sacrifice, He will deal with those not invited. The uninvited are those who chose to ignore the Lord’s invitation. Plain and simple, they did not want to come. Watching the Lord gather His church together caused them anguish. They hated the Lord, and they hated the church. What the church had to offer the soul made them uncomfortable, troubled, and sick.
  • What did the uninvited do to bring this on themselves? They leapt over the threshold. What does this represent? A threshold signifies introductory truths. "Spirits who are in the knowledge of the doctrinals of faith, without love, are in such a coldness of life and obscurity of light that they cannot even approach the first threshold of the court of the heavens, but flee…" AC 3833 [3] records this arcanum against those who will not believe: "…it may be known in what obscurity such persons are, and that they do not even see, much less touch, the first threshold of wisdom."
  • Leaping in the positive sense signifies having a joy from the perception of truth. (AE 455 [20]) It would seem, then, that in the negative sense, leaping for the evil would be a joy at closing off, evicting, the introductory truths from their lives. The remains of their youth and the first things of faith were stifled and allowed to wither and die.

"Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit."

  • Check AC 3041-45 regarding the meaning of a master. A master signifies knowledge of good in the natural person that exacts a sacred obligation or obedience. It is the pledging of the natural person to the good of marriage love. AE 409 [8] explains that master signifies the internal human whom the external human serves.
  • Can we not, with what is given above, see that those who turn away from the Lord wish to fill the master’s house with things that are destructive of the internal or conjugial principles of doctrine?

"…a mournful cry from the Fish Gate…"

  • Let’s first look at this from the literal sense. The Fish Gate was the main gate of Jerusalem. There, fish were sold. The fisherman unloaded their catch for sale in the market. Manasseh made some changes, or modifications, at this gate. He fortified the entrance way.
  • Nebuchadnezzar made his triumphant entry through the Fish Gate. Indeed, when the city was attacked, there must have been a mournful sound heard as his army pressed on to the next gate.
  • Fish signify items of information that arise or spring from sense-impressions and external learning. (AC 991)
  • A gate signifies the teachings that introduce one to the truth of faith. (AC 2943)
  • A mournful cry signifies grief because truth and good are being destroyed. (AE 1129 [2])

"A wailing from the Second Quarter…"

  • This second gate was second in dignity to the Fish Gate, but it had its place of importance because it had V-shaped defensive walls and some of the oldest ramparts of the city. Huldah the prophetess dwelt there. Josiah sent the newly found scroll of Deuteronomy to her. She read the scroll and warned that the day of God’s reckoning was fast approaching. See II Kings 22:14 and II Chronicles 34:22.
  • Again, can we see some of the importance of this literal sense to the spiritual sense of our study?

"Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh!"

  • Another name for Maktesh is "the Mortar." Its importance to the city of Jerusalem was its silver industry. Silver traders and silversmiths conducted their business there.
  • Silver signifies truth; in the opposite sense, it represents falsity. (AC 1551)
  • Did the merchants use the silver to make idols?
  • To wail signifies to have grief on account of damnation. (AE 659 [4]) To wail signifies the grief of sensuous people in their opposition to truths. (AR 435)

"All of the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off."

  • Merchants signify those who falsify the Word, speak out, and offer for sale. (AE 543 [10])
  • Money handlers signify those who make gain for themselves. (AE 840 [4])
  • Both of these are "cut down" or "cut off.’ This action by the Lord signifies that hell is removed through the protection of heaven. (AC 9316)

Putting It All Together

"Then those who have adulterated the truths of the Word will perish, and are to be cast into hell." (P&P)

Choices are so important. If we listen to the Lord, we are invited to His Church. If we ignore and reject the invitation, we wall ourselves off from Him. Instead of filling the Master’s home with good things, those who reject Him fill their house with violence and deceit.

The inhabitants of a house of deceit and violence never get to, or past, the threshold. Like blind people, they grope and stumble, never finding the entrance or threshold. The sad part is that these people had the innocence of remains from their childhood. The great spiritual Fish Gate was there. The Second Quarter had its prophetess to read the newly found Deuteronomy. But those intent on their evil ways wanted to hone their skills, to twist the silver truths, to make idols. They were more interested in making money for their own interests than in heeding the Lord’s call. What is to be the end for them? Mourning and wailing, to be cut down and cut off from eternity.

In these passages, we have contrasts. There is the invitation from the Lord to leap for joy, and there is the "leaping over" the spiritual conjunction with the Lord. Obviously, there is a silent question here: Which choice will we want for our soul?

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:9-11.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. What did the brief historical overview of the Fish Gate, the Second Quarter, and Maktesh help you discover about the deeper meaning of the spiritual sense?

  2. What ideas did you have regarding the Master’s house? Is the house representative of our mind or soul? Is it both? Do we have a way to periodically clear our spiritual house of unhealthy spiritual clutter?

  3. Hell always thinks it can win against the Lord. No matter how many times the hells are defeated, their insanity continues to cloud their sense of reality. Do you think we pay unnecessary attention to their bragging? Do you think they will leave us alone if we remind ourselves often enough of the stories of the prophets (the Word)?

  4. Have you ever noticed how often the Word uses the correspondences of fish? Think for a moment about the Lord’s ministry. He called fisherman to be His disciples. He sent them out several times to catch many fish after they had toiled all night with no results. Following His directions, they came back with record catches. The Lord used the correspondence of fish in His parables. He fed the multitude with the loaves and fish. He multiplied the fish and bread so as to have 12 full baskets left over. When the question of taxes came up, He sent the disciples to a brook to catch a fish. In the mouth of the fish was a coin. After His resurrection, He sat on the shore and cooked fish for the disciples and called them in from fishing to sup with Him. Can you think of other uses the Word makes of fish?

  5. Can you understand the spiritual reason why Nebuchadnezzar invaded the city of Jerusalem through the Fish Gate first and then worked his way toward the Second Quarter Gate?

Zephaniah 1:12-13

"And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’ Therefore their goods shall become booty, and their houses a desolation; they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine."

Passages From The Writings


  • "No truth will then be left in the church."

AC 1488 [2]

  • "‘Houses’ mean where there are wisdom and intelligence, thus where there are the knowledges of good and truth… ‘House’ is used in the opposite sense in Zephaniah (1:12 & 13)…‘houses’ denote memory-knowledges by which, through reasonings, come falsities."

AC 1071 [5]

  • "…planting vineyards and drinking the wine thereof is predicated, when [the spiritual church] becomes such as to have faith from charity. In Zephaniah (1:13)…is described the opposite condition, when the spiritual church is vastated."

AR 316

  • Note that this number states: "Nearly the same words occur in Hosea 9:2, 3; Zephaniah 1:13; Lamentations 2:11, 12; Micah 6:15; Amos 5:11, Isaiah 24:6, 7, 9, 11."

AE 376 [16]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:13) the ‘wealth that shall be for plunder’ signifies spiritual wealth, which is the knowledges of good and truth; ‘the houses that shall be for devastation’ signify the things of the church in man; that from these when devastated one profits nothing and receives nothing, even though he listens to them, and sees them in the Word, is signified by ‘building and not inhabiting, and planting vineyards and not drinking the wine thereof,’ ‘houses’ meaning the goods of the church, and ‘vineyards’ with ‘wine’ its truths."

AE 919

  • "That a ‘vineyard’ signifies the spiritual church is evident from the passages in the Word where ‘vineyard’ is mentioned…" (Zephaniah 1:13 is cited among many other passages.) "From the signification of ‘vineyard’ it can be seen that ‘to gather the vintage’ signifies to collect for uses those things that will be serviceable to the understanding, and which give intelligence and wisdom; and in the contrary sense it signifies to lay waste the church as to spiritual good… In the contrary sense ‘vintage’…[is] used in the sense…this signifies…that all spiritual good, and thus all truth that is truth…is destroyed; and this especially effected in the church by falsifications of the Word, likewise when evil of life corrupts all good, and falsity of doctrine perverts all truth…"

Derived Doctrine

"I will search Jerusalem with lamps…"

  • AR 140 explains that by "searching" is signified "to see all the things which a man believes and loves, thus the quality of his truth and of his good."
  • "Lamps" signify "the light of truth from the Divine Human of the Lord." (AC 2832 [3]). AR 796 explains that lamps signify an illumination from the Lord.
  • "Jerusalem," as explained in AR 880, signifies the church as to worship and its doctrine. "For worship is prescribed in doctrine and performed according to it…"

"…and punish the men…"

  • TCR 459 [15] has a helpful explanation for punishment. In essence, this number teaches that punishment has as its end or use amendment. Punishment is to bring the offender into order, and it is to protect the greater good of society and heaven. Anger has nothing to do with punishment when administered by the Lord.

"…who are settled in complacency…"

  • The Writings don’t seem to deal specifically with the word "complacent." But if we look for the synonyms of complacent, we find: contentment; satisfaction; and self - satisfaction.
  • The Lord with His lamps will show what is at the core of the heart. The people to whom Zephaniah was speaking had no drive to undertake self-examination. They had no desire to make themselves guilty for any transgressions. Nor were they willing to supplicate the Lord for help. They did not want a new spiritual life. They liked what and where they were spiritually. They were content with themselves.

"The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil."

  • Do we hear arrogance (the hells) speaking? Do we hear them saying the Lord is a do-nothing deity?
  • The prophet Zephaniah tells how wrong they are in this assessment. He speaks for the Lord of action.

Putting It All Together

"No truth will be left in the church." (P&P) How do we know this? With the help of the internal sense, the truth of this statement is easily ratified.

The Lord says that He will come with His Divine lamp (light) and search the heart and mind of all within the church. He will examine what the people believe. He will look at their faith and doctrines. For those who believed in their own prudence, for those who were satisfied with life’s status quo (complacency), there is not good news: their evil ways will bring them self-punishment. They will not find heaven. In spite of their pronouncements of Divine inaction, good will come from the Lord. Rejection of the Lord will bring the evil to their knees. These things are so because the Divine order will serve as the amending force to bring about His new church.

For the evil, the plundering of their houses, the vineyards from which they could not drink wine, their goods becoming booty, the building of houses that they could not inhabit, all illustrate the fruitlessness of their choices. They do not have much to look forward to.

Is this a hard message to consider? It depends on what choice has been made. For the faithful, it is an encouraging and reassuring prophecy. For those who hate the Lord and His ways, it is an ominous prophecy.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:12-13.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Do you think the complacent will believe the words of this prophecy?

  2. Can you anticipate what arguments they might offer to neutralize the potency of the Lord’s promised examination?

  3. Do you recall the words of the serpent to Adam and Eve when they were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit? How might those words relate to this story?

  4. The "punishment" of the Lord seems to spring from anger. What do you know about the distinction between anger and zeal? The Lord never acts from anger. He acts from a zeal that is based on love.

  5. Order is a state that comes from the Lord. When the Lord establishes order, hell will be curbed. The greater good will be protected, and good people will feel free to perform uses. What other thoughts come to your mind when you hear this promise of the Lord’s?
  6. Do you think the complacent will believe the words of this prophecy?

  7. Can you anticipate what arguments they might offer to neutralize the potency of the Lord’s promised examination?
  8. Do you recall the words of the serpent to Adam and Eve when they were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit? How might those words relate to this story?
  9. The "punishment" of the Lord seems to spring from anger. What do you know about the distinction between anger and zeal? The Lord never acts from anger. He acts from a zeal that is based on love.
  10. Order is a state that comes from the Lord. When the Lord establishes order, hell will be curbed. The greater good will be protected, and good people will feel free to perform uses. What other thoughts come to your mind when you hear this promise of the Lord’s?

Zephaniah 1:14-17

"The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse."

Passages From The Writings


  • "They will perish on the day of the judgment by the Lord."

AC 1839 [5]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:14, 15)…the ‘day of Jehovah’ denotes the last time and state of the church; ‘darkness and thick darkness’ falsities and evils."

AR 340

  • "That ‘the day of the Lord’s anger’ signifies the Last Judgment is evident from the following passages…Zephaniah 1:14, 15…"

AR 413

  • "Who…cannot see that the sun, the moon, and the stars of the world are not meant in these cases? That falsities of various kinds are signified by ‘darkness,’ is evident from these passages…" Zephaniah 1:15 is cited among the many references.

AE 526 [5]

  • "…by ‘the day of Jehovah great and terrible;’ and as this comes when the church is in darkness and in thick darkness, that day is also called ‘a day of darkness and thick darkness,’ and also ‘a day of cloud and obscurity,’ as also in the following passages…In Zephaniah (1:14, 15)…"

AC 5376 [12]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:14-18)…it is evident that desolation is the apparent deprivation of truth with those who are being regenerated, but is the absolute deprivation of it with those who are not being regenerated."

AC 1860 [3]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:15)…‘the day of Jehovah’ denotes the last time of the church, which is here treated of; ‘darkness’ denotes falsities, ‘thick darkness’ evils; both therefore are mentioned; otherwise it would be repetition of the same thing, or an unmeaning amplification. But the word in the original language that in this verse is rendered ‘thick darkness’ involves falsity as well as evil, that is dense falsity from which is evil, and also dense evil from which is falsity."

AC 7688 [2]

  • "[In Zephaniah 1:15]…‘darkness’ signifies falsities. In the Word ‘darkness’ also signifies ignorance of truth, such as the Gentiles are in who have not the Word and know nothing of the Lord."

AC 7711 [3]

  • "[In Zephaniah 1:15]…‘darkness’ denotes the privation of truth; and ‘thick darkness,’ the privation of truth and good; if ‘thick darkness’ signified nothing more than ‘darkness,’ it would be an empty repetition which would be far from the Holy Word."

TCR 761 [3]

  • "…all the truth of the church will be consummated, and then it will be night, because the truth of the church is light." Zephaniah 1:15 is cited as one of the examples.

AE 594 [19]

  • "So the Last Judgment, when those who are in the falsities of evil are to perish, is called: ‘A day of cloud and of obscurity’ (Zephaniah 1:15)."

Coronis 58 [5]

  • "Full consummation…is described thus in…(Zephaniah 1:15; 2:9)."

AR 397 [3]

  • "…[that] by…trumpets…is signified the exploration and manifestation of what the state of the church is with those whose religion is faith alone…may be seen in the following passages…" Zephaniah 1:15-16 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

"The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out."

  • AE 618 offers us this insight regarding "bitter." "‘Bitter (or bitterness)’ signifies what is undelightful because of adulterated truth…what is sweet becomes bitter and thus undelightful by a mixture with something offensive…‘sweet’ signifies what is delightful from the good of truth and the truth of good, so ‘bitter’ signifies what is undelightful because of adulterated truth."
  • "The noise of the Lord is bitter…" signifies that the Lord’s presence will bring a sense of disturbance to those who adulterate truth. He "disturbs" their falsities. The angels view ‘noise’, generated by the Lord, as a form of celebration. (AC 375)
  • "…the mighty men shall cry out." The positive meaning of mighty men denotes those who are in the good of love. (AR 832)
  • Conversely, "mighty ones" signify those who are intoxicated with self-love. (AC 583)
  • AR 885 instructs us that "cry" in the Word is said of every affection that breaks out from the heart. It can be a cry of lamentation, of imploring, of supplication, of indolence, of indignation, of confession, and of exultation.

"That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers."

  • Heaven and Hell (HH) 155 tells us that "day" and "year" in the Word signify the states of life in general.
  • "Day of anger and wrath" relates to the Last Judgment executed at the Lord’s Second Advent. (AE 413)
  • A day of "devastation" is predicated of good. (AE 960)
  • A day of darkness signifies a state of ignorance caused by the deprivation of truth. (AE 526)
  • "Thick darkness" signifies the presence of hatred, instead of charity. (AC 1860) The light of heaven effectively appears as darkness to those who are in the love of self and of the world. (AC 2441)
  • A "trumpet" of alarm signals, or announces, that the intellectual of the church has been laid to waste. (AC 4592 [10])
  • "A day of darkness and gloominess…" "They…who are in truth and not yet in good, are in shade [gloom] and darkness; because truth has no light from itself, and the light which they have from good is faint, like a light which is going out…" (AC 6400)
  • In TCR 755, we read "‘desolation signifies the consummation of truth, ‘devastation’ the consummation of good…"
  • "High towers" signify the worship of self which manifests itself when a people exalt themselves above others. (AC 1302) The "highest towers" signify doctrines of falsity, or those who love to dominate by misusing the holy things of the church. (AC 315 [15])

"…they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord…"

  • To be "blind" signifies being ignorant of truth and so being without understanding. (AE 239 [22])
  • To "walk" signifies to live (or not live) according to the doctrine, or truth, of faith. (AC 519)
  • The church, from its high tower of self-love, became like "blind men." The people of the church sinned against the Lord. Their eyes lost the heavenly light. They stumbled and tripped through life, missing the light of the Word because of their sins.

"…their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse."

  • "Blood" in the positive sense represents charity, or love of the neighbor. (AC 1000 [2])
  • Blood being poured out like "dust" intends to show us something quite the opposite of charity. "Dust" signifies the sensuous life. Thus, blood being poured out like dust signifies a "charity" that lives only from what is physical and material, or the body and earth. (AC 242)
  • "Refuse," or litter or rubbish, signifies the worthlessness of such a life of pretense. Real charity begins with the shunning of evils as sins. This kind of life keeps our "blood" rich and contributing to the health and well-being of our spiritual life and vitality. (AE 374 [5])

Putting It All Together

"They [the high and lofty abusers of the Word in the church] will perish on the day of the judgment by the Lord."

The spiritual sense of this portion of Zephaniah deals with the things that will occur following the Last Judgment. The Second Advent of the Lord will cause a positive internal conflict within the church. It is a necessary overturning and emptying of falsities that misled the hearts and minds of the people within the church. His spiritual coming will cause the church to face the most grievous and heart-searching temptations. Those who sought to hold the course of truth will find themselves on the edge of momentary anxiety and despair. But His Second Advent will be worth the temporary anguish. This Last Judgment will inspire the unification of the faithful throughout the heavens. The Doctrine of the Lord will draw the good and faithful away from the influence of hell.

Hell does not like losing to the Lord. The mere mention of His presence and of restoration of the heavens causes the inhabitants of hell to speak words of condemnation about His uncharitableness to them. He is made to appear dark, gloomy, stormy, terrifying, vengeful, and a destroyer of people.

Those in hell like puffing themselves up. Their blood, their life, is one of pomposity. They love their lofty towers where they speak words and make "erudite" pronouncements solely to attain adulation from those who have joined them in a life of "dust" blood and "refuse." The representation of the "dust" blood and "refuse" is powerful, a stark picture of spiritual reality from the Lord but ever so true. The Lord sees motives and intentions. His heavenly light exposes all corners and dark places where evil loves to hide and cover up its corrupt essence.

The Lord watches the extent of the shallowness of evil people. He permits the pompous pretenders their brief moment of flaunting good and truth. But it is only for a moment. The Lord wants all to know it will not last. It cannot last because it has no light and wisdom. Like a flickering candle in the wind of the Lord’s refreshing truth, their flame will go out.

The hellish spirits lament this. They cry out in protest. They deny that it is of their own choice and actions that these things will come to fruition. No, they say, it is the Lord’s fault. He is the one who causes the dark, gloomy, fierce, vindictiveness that is so unfair.

The Lord’s Second Coming, the Last Judgment, is the great liberator of good and truth. To hell, the trumpet of the Lord is like a piercing "bitter" noise that hurts them. To the angels, the trumpet of the Lord is a delightful "sweet" noise of great celebration and victory.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:14-17.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Are you anxious about the things that have to come to clear the way for the spiritual New Church? What makes you anxious?

  2. The hells protest the Lord’s presence. They love to find examples of "unfair" things in life. Do we assist them in any fashion if we allow negative states to enter our mind? What negative issues capture your attention? How can you counteract this?

  3. Hell’s lofty towers seem clear in the mind as a representation. Can you put any natural specifics with the spiritual imagery?

  4. Bitter noise versus sweet noise of the Lord’s trumpet is an interesting concept. It seems to go along with the idea that one person’s meat is another person’s poison. Can you relate to times of bitter and sweet music from the Word?

  5. Any thoughts regarding the blood like dust and the flesh like refuse? How can we illustrate these states?

Zephaniah 1:18

"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 will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land."

Passages From The Writings


  • "They cannot be preserved."

AC 4535 [4]

  • "…by ‘land’ in the Word is signified the church…From this it is manifest what is meant …in Zephaniah by the ‘speedy consummation of all that dwell in the land.’ That the Jewish nation which dwelt in that land was not consummated, but the holy of worship with them…"

AR 216

  • "…‘zeal’ in the Lord is not wrath; it only appears so in externals, interiorly it is love. It appears so in externals, because the Lord seems to be angry when He rebukes man, especially when man’s own evil punishes him. It is so permitted from love, that his evil may be removed; just like a parent, who, if he loves his children, suffers [allows] them to be chastised for the sake of removing their evils." This explanation follows the citing of Zephaniah 1:18 and 3:8.

AR 658

  • "…by ‘the anger of God’ is signified evil with men, which, because it is against God, is called the anger of God; not that God is angry with man, but because man, from his evil, is angry with God, and because it appears to man, when he is punished and tormented for it, as is the case after death in hell, as if it were from God, therefore, in the Word, anger and wrath, yea evil, is attributed to God." Zephaniah 1:18 is cited as an example of this truth.

TCR 755

  • "…[that] the consummation of the age is the last time of the church, can be seen from those passages in the Word where it is spoken of…(Zephaniah 1:18)…In these passages ‘the land’ signifies the church…"

AE 397 [3]

  • "In Zephaniah (1:18)…‘Consummation’ signifies the last state of the church, a state in which there is no longer any truth because there is no good, or in which there is no longer any faith because there is no charity; and when this is the state of the church, then comes the Last Judgment. The Last Judgment then comes, for the further reason that the human race is the basis or foundation of the angelic heaven, for the conjunction of the angelic heaven with the human race is perpetual…when therefore the basis does not correspond the angelic heaven totters; consequently there must then be a judgment…"

Derived Doctrine

"Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath…"

  • "Silver" signifies truth, and in the opposite sense, falsity. (AC 1551) Silver also signifies rational truth. (AC 2575)
  • "Gold" signifies good. It is representative of good from love and the good of faith from love. (AC 110)
  • Gold and silver signify knowledge of celestial things and knowledge of spiritual things. (AC 1551 [3])
  • The word "deliver" means to be saved or to be rescued. To be delivered in the positive sense means to be withdrawn from falsities. (AE 714 [14])
  • "The Lord’s wrath" signifies the advent of the Lord to judgment. (Divine Love and Wisdom [DLW] 5) This kind of wrath comes about when the Lord turns away the opposition and the consequent penalties the opposition feels from His judgment. (AC 5798 [6])

"…the whole land shall be devoured…"

  • AC 2571 offers us a wide view of what "land" represents. Land may represent the internal man or woman of the church; the region where the church is; the church itself; also in the universal sense, the Lord’s kingdom in heaven and on earth; the doctrine of love and charity, hence the faith of the church.
  • To be devoured signifies to destroy goods and truths. It also signifies the destruction of doctrine from its inception. (AR 542)

"By the fire of His jealousy…He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land."

  • "Fire" signifies the good of love. (AC 2799) Fire in the opposite sense represents the love of self and the hell of falsities therefrom. (AC 2444)
  • "Jealousy" signifies that divine truth is perceived as falsity and divine good as evil by those who do not receive the divine truth of the Lord’s divine good; so they attribute anger and wrath to the Divine, for to be jealous in the case of the Lord means to be zealous. The words jealous and zealous come from the same root meaning. (AC 8875)
  • Jealousy signifies the Lord’s love of saving humankind. (AC 5071)
  • "Zeal" signifies a kind of fire, but within it is the love of doing good to others, or, with the Lord, the love of saving humankind. (AC 5071)
  • Can we now see the meaning of speedy riddance in the land? The Lord’s love is alive. It is quick, meaning it is fervent, thorough, and lively in its task of removing the hells and their attendant evils. Nothing of disorder shall be left when the Lord completes the consummation of the church.

Putting It All Together

"They [the great deceivers within the falsified church] cannot be preserved." (P&P)

Those who sought to be deceivers of the doctrines of the church cannot use the silver of "rational truths" to talk their way out of the Lord’s spiritual assessment. Nor can they present the gold of imagined celestial knowledge to justify their actions. What looked beautiful and precious on the outside was a veneer—a cover-up—of a valueless base. TCR 519 likens the pretense of hell to coins made of dung and covered over with gold. Their fine coverings will not save them. So committed to evil were the people of Zephaniah’s time that there was no love left within their hearts to be changed. If they had asked for help, it would have been given to them. But the great falsifiers wanted nothing to do with the Lord.

When the Lord cleans and purifies His church, He does so completely. The whole "land" will receive His cleansing. The "fire" of His jealousy is the way the Word explains what zeal He has to save humankind. The warmth of His love is strong and comforting. He will not tarry over the removal of disorder. Speedy. Complete. Thorough. Hell has nothing, no power, to stop the Divine process of reformation and regeneration.

Will this happen in our lifetime? Let the people say Amen, which is to say, "may it ever be so."

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 1:18.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Is there any uncertainty in your mind about what the Lord says will happen during the Last Judgment? What does this section teach you about the refreshing changes the Lord will introduce in His New Church?

  2. Will the false charges against the Lord, by the deceivers, stand up in the end? Discuss this.

  3. Remember when the Lord called Moses by the burning bush. Do you see something in that story that shows the fire of His love as a preservation of our freedom? The bush burned, but it was not consumed. What does this tell us about how the Lord leads us?

The promise of the Lord’s thorough emptying of the vastated church shows that He offers no compromises to the rebellious. Therefore, we can rest assured that there are no compromises with hell either. Comments?

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