Zephaniah Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Two of Zephaniah

Zephaniah 2:1-3

"Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable [shameless] nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger."

Passages From The Writings


  • "They ought to be converted before the Lord comes to judgment…"

Doctrine of the Lord 4

  • "…I shall in this first chapter merely adduce passages from the Word which contain the expression ‘that day,’ ‘in that day,’ and ‘in that time;’ in which, by ‘day,’ and ‘time,’ is meant the Lord’s advent…In Zephaniah (2:2, 3)…"

AR 340

  • "‘The great day of the anger of the Lamb,’ signifies the day of the Last Judgment; ‘and who is able to stand?’ signifies their inability to endure it by reason of their torment; for when the Last Judgment is at hand, the Lord, together with heaven, approaches, and of those who are below in the world of spirits, no others can endure the Lord’s coming, but those who are interiorly good, who shun evils as sins, and look to the Lord. That ‘the day of the Lord’s anger’ signifies the Last Judgment is evident from the following passages…Zephaniah 2:2, 3…"

AR 704

  • "…the Lord’s coming and the New Church from Him…are meant by ‘the day of Jehovah’; as in…(Zephaniah 2:2, 3)…"

AE 413 [5]

  • "In Zephaniah (2:2, 3)…‘the glowing of anger’ and ‘the day of Jehovah’s anger’ mean the Last Judgment."

Derived Doctrine

"Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together…"

  • AC 679 explains that to "gather" signifies searching and gathering together (inventorying) the truths in the memory.
  • AR 707 presents the negative meaning of gathering as signifying "to excite to combat from falsities against truths…From the purpose of destroying the New Church…"
  • Please note the repetition of the word "gather." The cause of repetition in the Word is because the Word treats distinctly of the two faculties, namely the understanding and the will. (AC 707)

"O undesirable [shameless] nation…"

  • As we know, there is a good and bad meaning to all words used in the spiritual sense. "Nation" in the good sense represents the Lord’s kingdom or the spiritual church that receives the good of faith. (AC 2699) In the negative meaning, nation signifies falsity from evil, that which comes from the sensuous man that nurtures destructive truths. (AE 724 [27]) "Nation" signifies those who trust in themselves. (AC 249)
  • The wording of our text makes it plain as to which of the possible meanings of "nation" we need to reflect on. "O undesirable [shameless] nation…" This seems to call forth the image of a church or nation that was in love with nurturing those doctrines that harbor destructive truths.

"Before the decree is issued…"

  • A decree signifies that the Lord was to come into the world. (TCR 101) A decree signifies an eternal law of order. (AC 10248)
  • To "issue" means to set forth; to publish; to emit (to give influx); to announce.

"Or the day passes like chaff…"

  • "Chaff" signifies things in which there is nothing good and also falsity of every kind that has a hellish origin. (AC 3941 [9])
  • "Day" signifies vastation (as taught in Zephaniah 1:14), and "day" represents the last time and state of the church. (AC 488 [3] and 1839 [5])

"Before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you…"

  • Anger (especially fierce anger) is attributed to the Lord, but it signifies more of the anger of the people, or church. It represents the separation or turning away from things divine; for when wrath or anger is said of the Lord, it means a turning away on the part of the individual. (AC 10431)
  • Any movement or correction by the Lord, to the evil, appears to be from anger, when in reality, His purpose is a calm and loving motive.

"Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth…"

  • To "seek" signifies a longing to be instructed in the ways of truth. (AC 3058 [2]) Seeking describes the attitude of those who will nothing and seek nothing except that which is from the Lord, and whatever they ask is granted. (AR 951)
  • The "meek" signify those who are in the good (love) of charity. (AE 304 [44]) Meekness denotes a willingness to follow the ways of the Lord. Putting aside our unhealthy forms of self-love is a worthy act of meekness.
  • The spiritual meanings of the word "earth" are manifold. It would be impossible to record the full list in this brief capsulation. Here are but a few of the references to consider. The "earth" signifies the external man. (AC 477 [3]) "Earth" signifies a receptacle. (AC 28) "Earth" signifies the exterior things of the church, and interior things are the heavens. (AC 1066 [3]) In the parable of the Sower, four kinds of "earth" are mentioned. The good "earth" represents the good in a person, or church, which receives the Word. (AC 3310 [2]) One last quote might be worth considering, too: "earth" signifies the old church. (AC 8902 [8])

"…who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility."

  • "Justice" signifies a life that holds dearly to the good of charity. Those who love the good of charity are endowed by the Lord with the ability to know what is true. (AC 615)
  • To "uphold" represents to support, and to have an inner sustainability in times of temptation. (AE 298 [10])
  • "Righteous" can be tied in with integrity and perfection, having a clear conscience and thinking from innocence and simple good. (AC 2525)
  • "Humility" signifies a willingness to give in to the ways of the Lord. It signifies a quieting of one’s proprium so that the Lord’s Proprium can grow within us and lead the way to good and truth.
  • "Seeking" indicates a willingness to be instructed in truths. (AC 3058 [2])

"It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger."

  • When the words "It may be…" occur in the Word, the core of their meaning seems best explained by the following passage from AC 994: "…interior things are as it were asleep, being immersed in the corporeal things. But yet it may be evident to any one who reflects, that all pleasures are such as are the affections that are more and more interior, and that they receive from these all their essence and quality." The words "It may be…" remind the reader of the words "Nunc Licet." "Now it is permitted..." Interior things will give the faithful a sense of new enlightenment, protection, and pleasures forevermore.
  • To be "hidden" by the Lord signifies finding refuge in the protection of the Lord. (AC 8764)
  • "…in the day of the Lord’s anger…" We best understand this phrase when we study the root meanings of anger and zeal. The Lord has no anger. He is full of zeal. He wishes no harm or destruction on anyone. He doesn’t lash out, nor does He seek revenge. Zealously, He wants to save, protect, and deliver all from the anger of hell. We are the ones who project anger on the Lord when in fact it is hell that is full of anger.
  • The phrase "day of anger" as used in the Old Testament relates, or points, to the judgment that will be executed at the incarnation of the Lord. (AE 413 [6-7]; AC 488 [3] and 1839 [5])

Putting It All Together

"They ought to be converted before the Lord comes to judgment." (P&P)

The underlining of the words ought and converted is added to help us focus on our summary. The word "ought" conveys to us a powerful sense of why we have the Lord’s Divine imperative. The church ought to be proactive in its work of repentance, reformation, and regeneration. It’s a work dedicated to preparing the way for the Lord. To use the imagery of Isaiah 40:3-4 and Luke 3:5, our spiritual work is a specific series of changes. The Word proposes changes that will make His incarnation positively direct and free of stumbling blocks.

"Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth…"

AE 405 [36] explains this passage as signifying that we "should prepare [ourselves] to receive the Lord; ‘wilderness’ signifying where there is no good because there is no truth, thus where there is as yet no church; ‘every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,’ signifies that all who are humble in heart, that is, all who are in goods and truths, are received, for such as are received by the Lord are raised up to heaven; while ‘every mountain and hill shall be made low’ signifies that all who are elated in mind, that is, who are in love of self and the world, shall be put down."

The call to be converted will bring us out of the "undesirable [shameless]" nation state. Instead of being like chaff, we can be converted to the "heart" or kernel of wheat. Conversion changes our negative fear of the Lord to a positive love of the Lord. We will seek His counsel. His love and wisdom will give us a sense of being upheld by His justice. In the stream of the Lord’s Providence, we will be carried to places of innocence, peace, calmness, tranquility, and mutual love to the Lord and the neighbor.

Please note how understanding the spiritual sense of the Word turns us away from negative ideas. Quickly the affirmative side of the Lord’s Providence calls us to gather ourselves together and prepare the way for Him. "Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth…seek righteousness, seek humility."

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 2:1-3.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. How do the words "ought" and "conversion" sit with you? There are some psychological schools of thought that urge us to give up on compulsion words. Should, ought, and must are seen as enemies of a healthy and balanced psyche. Do you agree with this concept? What about the church’s teachings that tell us there is freedom in self-compulsion?

  2. If these compulsion words are not troublesome, how do you incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle?

  3. How about the word "conversion"? What does it mean to be converted?

  4. What "valleys" in life can you identify that need to be lifted up? In the stories of the Word, wars, despair, and danger exist in the valley. The Twenty-Third Psalm reminds us: "Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for Thou art with me…"

  5. The mountains that need to be lowered speak of a mental vanity. What are some spiritual mountains that need to be leveled or moved?

  6. Remember, these preparatory events are not just to humiliate us. They are to be experienced to make the way straight for the Lord. We need to get the crooked straight. What does this last process tell us about playing around with truth, twisting it this way and that way for our own ends?

  7. Lastly, did the harshness of the literal sense soften for you as the spiritual sense shone through?

Zephaniah 2:4-6

"For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted. Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethitest! The word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: "I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant.’ The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks."

Passages From The Writings


  • "…for the evil will then perish on account of evils and falsities of many kinds."

AC 1197 [3]

  • "The ‘Philistines’ signify in general a mere memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith, and specifically those who make faith and salvation consist in knowledges alone, which they make matters of memory…" Thus, "it is evident what is meant by the Philistines, and by ‘all of Philistia,’ or all ‘the borders’ of it…So also in other places in the Prophets, as in…Zephaniah 2:5…"

AC 9340 [4]

  • "The reason why ‘Philistia,’ which bordered on the land of Canaan even unto Tyre and Zidon, signified the interior truths of faith, was that the representative Ancient Church had been there, as is evident from the remains of Divine worship among its inhabitants, and referred to in the historic and prophetic books of the Word that treat of the Philistines and the land of Philistia; as in the prophecies of…Zephaniah 2:5…"

AC 1565

  • "That ‘flock and herd’ signify the possessions of the external man, is evident from the signification of ‘flock’ and ‘herd,’ as being goods…" And that they also "signify things not good, is evident from the following passages of the Word." Zephaniah 2:5-6 is cited among other references.

AC 2323 [3]

  • "…when a Judgment is close at hand, that is, the salvation of the faithful and the condemnation of the unfaithful, then visitation precedes, or an exploration of what quality they are, that is, whether there is any charity and faith. This visitation takes place in the ‘evening;’ and therefore the visitation itself is called ‘evening,’ as in Zephaniah…2:5, 7."

Derived Doctrine

"For Gaza shall be forsaken…"

  • "…by ‘Gaza’ [are signified] the things that are revealed concerning charity…"
  • To be forsaken signifies withdrawal. The apparent absence of the Lord is the result of the lack of charity and the iniquities and sins of the Philistine church. (AE 412 [19])

"…and Ashkelon desolate…"

  • Of the five principal cities of the Philistines, Ashkelon is the only one located on a seacoast. Ashkelon’s long history shows a spirit of rebellion. She caused the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses II, to storm her city. He crushed the rebels, and to record his victory, he inscribed on their temple walls a dramatic representation of the battle.
  • Was the spirit of Ashkelon’s rebellious nature actively being demonstrated against the Lord? Are we to consider the spiritual meaning, or representation, of a Philistine city on a seacoast? A "sea" represents a collection of spiritual and natural knowledges in the memory. (AC 28 and 991) A "coast" represents the border, the extension of the church from the knowing faculty to the intuitive and thinking faculties. (AC 569 [12])
  • To be "desolate" signifies to be without visible truth. (AC 6141) To be desolate connotes ruin.

"They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday…"

  • Ashdod, too, was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. It was the northernmost city (near the coast and half way between Gaza and Joppa.) When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they took it to Ashdod, where the temple of the god Dagon was located.
  • Since we don’t have a direct teaching about Ashdod, we have to turn to what we do know to draw inferences about what might be represented. The Philistines represent those whose faith is separated from charity. They place everything of religion in knowledge and cognitions. This type of faith sounds like faith alone. (AE 700 and TCR 203) Dagon represents a mixture of doctrine. They made the representation of Dagon in a form that was half man and half fish. Dagon’s form testifies to this mixture that lacks intelligence and power and is deficient of spiritual good. Does its northern location also tell us about a "coldness" or indifference to the good and truth of the Lord?
  • To "drive out" signifies that the Lord will put to flight all of their evils and falsities. (AC 1835)
  • "Noonday" is a period of the day where the greatest amount of light is present. Noonday therefore represents a state of fullness of enlightenment. The light of heaven presents to the heart and mind of the church the greatest intelligence and wisdom. (AC 5672)

"And Ekron shall be uprooted…"

  • "‘Beelzebul,’ who was the god of Ekron, means the god of all falsities, for Beelzebul by derivation means god of flies, and ‘flies’ signify the falsities of the sensual man, thus falsities of every kind." (AE 740 [10])
  • A "root" signifies the proprium as the source of infernal falsity. (AR 410) A root signifies that charity cannot bear fruit. (AC 382 [3]) In Doctrine of Life 93, we read that as the proprium "constitutes the first root of [our] life, it is evident what kind of a tree a man would be unless this root were plucked up, and a new root planted in its place…"

"Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast…"

  • "Woe" signifies an admonition of disaster and warns of the danger of eternal damnation. (AC 3755)
  • Inhabitants in the good sense represent all goods and those who are in charity. (AC 795 [4]) In the contrary sense, inhabitants represent evils goods and a lack of charity to the Lord and neighbor. Therefore, we can sense why the Lord spoke words of woe to the inhabitants.
  • The "sea" represents a collection of spiritual and natural knowledges in the memory. (AC 28 and 991) "Coast" signifies the extension of the church from the knowing faculty to the intuitive and thinking faculties. (AC 569 [12])

"…the nation of the Cherethitest!"

  • We need to identify the Cherethites. Cherethites have an interesting background. They constituted a section of David’s personal army when he defeated the Philistines and were part of his retinue after he was established in Jerusalem. (II Samuel 8:18) Their loyalty to David may be seen when they joined him in the fight against Absalom and his mutinous army. (II Samuel 20:7)
  • The Cherethitest lineage also has family roots that cross lines with the Philistines. Is it the Philistine connection that is being condemned here? Or is the condemnation due to a spoiling of their loyalty and support of Israel’s Lord?
  • Since we do not have direct teachings regarding the nation of Cherethitest, we might do well to focus on the Philistine representations. Philistines represent those who are in faith separated from charity. The Philistines also represent those who hold false ideas and reason about spiritual things from their false ideas. (AC 727)

"The word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant."

  • When the Word speaks of the Lord being against anyone, it means something other than what we would mean if we used these words. For the Lord, it means bringing things back into order. It means bringing hell to the point of being yoked or controlled. Divine power is offered in place of self-interests. (AC 8625)
  • Canaan has many representations. Let’s look at some of them. In the negative sense, it represents a church or an individual who is worshiping externally without internals. In a positive sense, Canaan represents the Lord’s kingdom, the church, the man or woman of the church, the celestial of the church, or its good. (AC 5757)
  • Can we use derived doctrine here? Would it make sense to see this as an announcement from the Lord that He planned to reorder the worship of the church? Can we imagine a movement from a lifeless external worship to a spiritual excitement for internal worship?
  • The destruction announced by the Lord is a cleansing process. It "means not to be afraid because of the damnation which comes upon those who are in knowledges and pervert them." In other words, it signifies the removal of perverted memory-knowledges. (AC 1458 [3])
  • "Inhabitants" represent goods and truths. (AE 741 [6]) To announce that no inhabitants would be left represents the removal of all evils and falsities that had been called goods and truths. See AC 417 [10] for the meaning of "unpeopled."

"The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks."

  • "Pastures" signify knowledges that contain the goods of truth.
  • Pastures also signify what sustains the spiritual life. (AC 6078)
  • Pastures signify the Word from which spiritual nourishment is derived. (AE 644)
  • To find pastures signifies to be taught, enlightened, and nourished by divine truths. (AR 914)
  • A "shelter," or shade, signifies a defense against evil and falsity. (AE 298 [5])
  • A shelter in the negative sense represents an obscure general perception of good and truth, especially with one who is in external worship. (AC 2367)
  • "Shepherds" signify those who lead to the good of life. (AC 6052)
  • Shepherds signify one who does the goods of charity or who leads and teaches. Shepherds signify the Lord. (AE 375 [34])
  • "Gold" signifies good from the celestial things of love, in which innocence may rest. (AC 415)
  • A "flock" signifies those who are led and taught. (AC 343)
  • A flock signifies the church of those who are in the truth of simple good. (AC 6828)

Putting It All Together

P&P sums up this section from the Word with this doctrinal statement: "…the evil will then perish on account of evils and falsities of many kinds."

What evils and sins of every kind were the Philistines guilty of?

  • They made memory-knowledges the core of their faith.
  • They believed salvation to consist in knowledges alone.
  • This attitude took the Lord and charity out of genuine worship.
  • They were rebellious and quarrelsome within their hearts toward the good and truth of the Lord.
  • Ashdod proudly and defiantly hosted the god Dagon within its temple. Dagon’s image was a mixture, half man and half fish. Dagon signifies a religious faith that separates truth from charity. (Divine Providence [DP] 326 [12])

After looking over the summary of "evils and sins of every kind," do we find anything listed above that makes us cringe with horror and disgust? If nothing affected our sense of injustice, why is that so? Does it mean we have fallen victim to misconceptions about true faith? Some describe this state as being "numbed out." Is this a good description of the process of losing a vital faith?

As I read it, the Philistines placed too much emphasis on mere confession of faith. They chose to have a faith of the lips and not of the heart. In many ways, they were dangerous spiritual hypocrites. They represented a religion that valued the "faith alone" choice. Such a choice spurned real spirituality. They were not interested in finding the spiritual sense of the Word to see the error of their ways or to get a better understanding of their spiritual needs. Instead, they looked for ways to excuse or justify their actions. The Philistines molded a mixture of man and fish ideas to pollute and adulterate truths they had had from the days of the Ancient Church. In other words, they were intent on destroying the "Divine Human Representative" understanding they had of the Lord.

Are we now moving toward a clearer understanding of what the Lord is condemning within the Philistine church? Can we picture the light of the Lord going out? Instead of striving to keep as correct an idea of God as they could, they worked toward worshipping an "invisible" lifeless statue of Dagon, an idol fashioned from their minds and hands.

Real spiritual growth depends on a progressive, deepening faith from the Word and on shunning of evils as sins. A true faith pushes aside spiritual lethargy, negligence, and self-love so as to serve the greater good of the Lord and the neighbor.

Do we still have these enemies of faith among us? Can we sense that the "faith alone" ideas thrive in present-day churches? Are there places where you see the memorization of creedal statements honored as meriting heaven? Do we still try to mold and blend, or bend, the ways of the Lord with time-honored excuses and justifications, such as "we are only human"? Are we still a people of lip service and not heart service?

Recall the position of the nation of Cherethites. David trusted them and made them a part of his inner circle of confidants. They rallied to help him overcome the rebellious army of Absalom. What happened to those virtues within their nation? The Word illustrates the correspondential answer: they turned away and sought to fashion their own spiritual ends.

Our story doesn’t end with this bleak picture. Instead, the prophecy announces: "The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for the shepherds and folds for the flocks." The Lord promises that there will be a restoration of knowledge based on the goods of His truth. He promises to teach, enlighten, and nourish the flock. He will bring shepherds who will lead them to the good of life. In the highest sense, the Lord is promising that He will be the Shepherd of Innocence Who will bring peace and rest to His people.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 2:4-6.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

The following questions are drawn from the "Putting It All Together" section.

  1. How does this part of Zephaniah and its meanings give us a sense of the depth, or seriousness of the spiritual disorder of the Philistines?

  2. If nothing appeared serious enough, for you, to warrant total desolation of the Philistines, where do you think we might be missing the point? Have we become somewhat numbed to the seriousness of disorders? Certainly with what we see daily in the media, nothing seems to surprise us anymore. We see and hear all kinds of brutality on a nightly basis. Are we somewhat jaded? Have we thrown in the towel on restoring spiritual values in our world? Are there ways to counteract this numbness?

  3. Did the point about the Philistines being part of the Ancient Church register and strike you as something we ought to remember? At one time, they were a church that saw the Divine Human in all of the representative forms around them. They let their spiritual gift slip away with a mixture of rationalizations and memory-knowledges. Can we find ways to keep lip-service worship from replacing a heart-inspired worship service?

  4. Real spiritual growth comes about when we participate in a deeper study of the Word. It comes when we look within ourselves honestly to remove those areas of evil and sin that cause a blockage between the Lord and ourselves. How might a study, like this one, help us develop a more disciplined way to read the Word? What are the fruits of such reading?

  5. What were your reflections about the inadequacy of "faith alone" and memorization of facts for achieving salvation? Real faith is an internal acknowledgment of truth—the Lord’s truth. If you believed in the confessional booth and the granting of absolution, would that take away a sense of your individual need to shun evils as sins?

  6. What modern application can we make of what we learned about the representative nation of the Cherethites?

  7. Did the positive closing prophecy about pastures, shelters, shepherds, and flocks help lift the cloud of doom and eminent destruction? What do these images bring to mind?

  8. What other questions would you add to this study?

Zephaniah 2:7

"The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed their flocks there; in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the Lord their God will intervene for them, and return their captives."

Passages From The Writings


  • "Then some are to be saved."

AC 1565

  • "That ‘flock and herd’ signify the possessions of the external man, is evident from the signification of ‘flock’ and ‘herd,’ as being goods…That ‘flock’ and ‘herd’ signify also things not good, is evident from…Zephaniah 2:5-7."

AC 2323

  • "…when a Judgment is close at hand, that is, the salvation of the faithful and the condemnation of the unfaithful, then visitation precedes, or an exploration of what quality they are…this visitation takes place in the ‘evening;’…as in Zephaniah 2:5-7.

AC 7844 [4, 5-6]

  • "…the coming of the Lord into the world is signified by ‘evening and morning,’…In Zephaniah 2:7…‘evening’ denotes the first state of the rising church. As ‘evening’ signified the last state of the old church and the first of the new…That ‘evening’ denotes the last state of the church, when there is dense falsity because there is no faith, and dense evil because there is no charity…"

Derived Doctrine

"The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah…"

  • "The coast" signifies the extension of the church from one limit to the other, that is, from the knowing faculty to the intuitive and thinking faculties." (AC 569 [12], emphasis added) To grasp the significance of this citation, we must picture the Lord coming to the church to make a judgment. The Lord’s visitation is for the purpose of building up the new church. All of the faulty thoughts and affections must be vastated. Therefore, He opens the aspects of the church concerned with knowing; He visits the intuitive and thinking faculties. He examines the real thinking and affections of the church to rid it of lip service and pretense. Nothing can be hidden if spiritual integrity is to be restored. What is in the heart will be shouted from the rooftops.
  • "…shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah…" When a church is vastated, a remnant always remains and is continued under the guidance of the Lord. (AC 407) A remnant signifies those who have joined some goods of charity to faith. (AR517)
  • The house of Judah signifies the celestial church. (AE 710) What are the qualities of the celestial church in comparison to those of the spiritual church? "The truth of good is of the celestial church, and the good of truth is of the spiritual church. With those who were of the celestial church, good was implanted in the will part, which is the proper seat of good, and from this good, that is, through this good from the Lord, they had a perception of truth…But with those who are of the spiritual church, good is implanted in the intellectual part by means of truth…" (AC 5733)

"They shall feed their flocks there; in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening."

  • To feed signifies to make provision for the increase of the new church. (AR 547)
  • To feed signifies to teach. (AR 383)
  • To feed signifies to imbibe good and truth in a state of temptations. (AC 8527)
  • A flock signifies those who are to be led and taught. (AC 343)
  • A flock signifies the church and those who are in the truth of simple good. (AC 6828)
  • Houses represent the natural mind. The rational mind and the natural mind are like a house. (AC 4982)
  • Houses signify the church. (AC 3720)
  • Houses signify the will principle. (AC 706)
  • Houses signify scientifics that are collected together to raise and build up the external human, which is not unlike the building of a house. (AC 1488)
  • We have no representation given for the city of Ashkelon. The Philistines had five major cities: Ashkelon was one of them. Ashkelon was the only one among the five powerful cities to be on the seacoast.
  • To understand the meaning of lying down at evening in the houses of Ashkelon, let us consider first the representation of "down." AC 1311 teaches that to come down signifies judgment. Can we take this to mean that the houses, the natural-rational mind, were about to be brought "down" to judgment? Does the evening represent the judgment of the last state of the church and the mind prior to the "new day" of the Lord’s advent? Consider this possible meaning in light of the passage below.

"For the Lord their God will intervene, and return their captives."

  • To "intervene" means to come between; to mediate, arbitrate, intercede, or interrupt. Recall the wonderful teachings regarding the importance of the "remnant." Whenever a church undergoes vastations, AC 407 teaches, the Lord sees to it that "…there always remains some nucleus of a church" so that a new light may shine forth to lead the captive back to a state of freedom.
  • The Lord "interrupts" evil. His light comes between us and our states of disorder, and cleans or removes the murky and nefarious works of hell.
  • AC 10500 teaches that expiation for our sins "signifies a possibility by virtue of the Divine power of the Lord [to be] with those who have so completely turned themselves away…that their worship be…accepted and heard." (Emphasis added.)
  • The Lord will intervene. He will provide a way out of spiritual captivity. He will free us from our cruel enslavement of mind, heart, and soul. His church will renew its work to feed and care for the souls of His flock.

Putting It All Together

Restoration, healing, rebuilding—this work is not always attractive. There is the knocking down and removal of what is worn out, the scarred walls, and weak foundations. With the dust of the rubble clouding our vision and the scattered remnants of steel and cement all over the former foundation, it is hard to picture what the new building is going to look like. The architect and the builder may assure us that the new building is going to please us and more adequately fit our growing needs. We look at their plans and drawings, and hope for the day when it will be completed so we can move in and enjoy the new usefulness of the building.

Surgery is not pretty, either. A hip replacement means cutting tissue and muscles and removing the damaged parts. There will be blood and weeks of soreness. The doctors promise that all of their work and a rehab regimen will bring relief and more mobility. We hope, we fear, we trust that it will happen as they promise.

Zephaniah’s message is direct. What the church had been building was going to collapse in the day of the Lord’s judgment. The doctrines of the church were faulty, based on false logic so precariously unbalanced that it was in eminent danger of collapsing. The worship going on within the church was superficial and nearly empty of holiness. The flock was not being fed. Souls were not receiving care. People were going through the motions of praise, but their hearts were not feeling any excitement. Genuine ends were not evident, and much spiritual ignorance was enslaving the Lord’s flock.

The Lord, as the Divine Architect and Divine Physician, counseled His people that falsity would fall and that it would be cut out of the diseased body of the church. A day of judgment was at hand. Those who loved their man-made truths were going to be separated from the church. They would be cut off not because of Divine anger, but because of their unwillingness to let the Lord lead them in the way of truth. They, the self-promoters, would no longer dictate what was essential to the church.

Zephaniah 2:7 reports that "some are to be saved." Who will be saved? Why only some? Why not everyone? The concept of the "remnant" comes out in this prophecy. The nucleus of a church will remain. The Lord’s intervention begins with a few. Again, we ask, why with a few? Real spiritual growth comes with a degree of slowness. It is a faith that has a line-upon-line and precept-upon-precept mission statement. Growth in the Lord’s church is founded on good and truth, not on popular opinions. Can you accept this plan of the Lord’s? AC 10500 encourages us to see that the Lord’s Divine power can restore the integrity of the church so that worship can be heard and accepted.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 2:7.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. As you look at the state of the church (for now, let’s use the church universal as our model), what is your view of its soundness? What is the basis for your opinion?

  2. Can you see any signs of the nucleus (remnant) working? Is the New Church part of the nucleus? Are the Writings a nucleus?

  3. When we research and judge civil, moral, and spiritual issues, how much are we influenced by popular concepts and how much by the Word?

  4. For example, consider the issue of same-sex marriages. Whatever your opinion on this issue, how do you search "objectively" for answers? Will the courts and individual states decide for us? Do we put our heads in the sand and make no stand, hoping that it will eventually sort itself out?

  5. What makes for a living and active church? Is a successful church one that fosters activities for all ages? Is a successful church one that provides preaching (worship), teaching, and doctrinal instruction for all ages? How do we avoid going through the motions of empty worship?

  6. "A few will be saved." How did your heart and mind react to those words? Did you wish for a larger promise? If the Word had said "many" will be saved, how would that have changed how you felt about the prophecy?

  7. We have so much more to learn about the ways of the Lord. We tend to try to get ahead of the Lord. We want faster results, faster growth. Impatience is a factor. What will it take for us to follow the Lord’s pace in growing the New Church?

  8. Continuing the thought from question 7, how do we follow the pace of the Lord and avoid being complacent about our need to spread the good news of the Second Coming?

Zephaniah 2:8-10

"I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached My people, and made arrogant threats against their borders. Therefore, as I live, says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah—overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them. This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the Lord of hosts."

Passages From The Writings


  • "Those who have adulterated the Word will utterly perish"

AC 2468 [13]

  • "In Zephaniah… (2:8-10)…To ‘reproach the people,’ and to ‘enlarge against their boundary, and against the people of Jehovah Zebaoth,’ is to hold as vile and to reject interior truths, which are the ‘people of Jehovah Zebaoth.’ The consequence of this is that goods become evils of falsity, which are ‘Sodom’ and a ‘place abandoned to the nettle;’ and truths become falsities, which are ‘Gomorrah’ and a ‘pit of salt.’ For it is from internal things that external are capable of being good and true."

AC 1259 [4-5]

  • "That the ‘nations’ denote the goods of charity, or, what is the same , those in whom there are goods of charity…This is said of the Lord’s kingdom; ‘peoples’ denote truths; ‘nations’ goods. Those in the church who are endowed with the good of charity are ‘nations,’ and those who are endowed with the truths of faith are ‘peoples;’ for goods and truths are predicated according to the subjects in whom they are…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited as an example.

AC 1666 [3]

  • "As cupidities and falsities are what vastate or lay waste man, that is, deprive him of all the life of the love of good, and of the affection of truth, vastation is described in many passages by ‘saltness.’" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

AC 2455 [3]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:9…where a ‘place that is left to the nettle’ denotes vastated good, and a ‘pit of salt’ vastated truth; for the expression ‘place left to the nettle’ refers to Sodom, by which is signified evil or vastated good, and a ‘pit of salt’ to Gomorrah, by which is signified falsity or vastated truth…That the subject is vastation is manifest, for it is said an ‘eternal desolation.’"

AC 9207 [7]

  • "A ‘pillar of salt’ denotes disjunction from truth; for in the opposite sense ‘salt’ signifies the destruction and vastation of truth (Zeph. 2:9…)."

AC 10300 [6]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:9…‘a place left to the nettle’ denotes the ardor and burning of the life of man from the love of self; a ‘pit of salt’ denotes a longing for what is false, which, as it destroys truth and good, is called ‘a waste forever.’ It is said that it shall be ‘as Gomorrah,’ because by ‘Gomorrah and Sodom’ is signified the love of self (AC 2220)."

Doctrine of the Lord 39

  • This number gives many references in the Word where the Lord is called "the God of Israel" only. Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

Doctrine of Sacred Scriptures 86

  • "That repetitions…occur in the Word on the account of the marriage of good and truth, may be seen quite clearly from passages where ‘nations’ and ‘peoples’ are mentioned…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

AR 483

  • "That ‘peoples’ signify those who are in truths or falsities of doctrine, and ‘nations’ those who are in goods or in evils of life, may appear from the many passages in the Word…where ‘peoples’ and ‘nations’ are mentioned together, from which this may be concluded, since in the Word in each and every thing there is a marriage of the Lord and the church, and thence…‘peoples’ relate to truth, and ‘nations’ to good." Zephaniah 2:9 is cited as an example.

TCR 93

  • "That Jehovah and the Holy One of Israel are one, although the names are different, is made clear by the passages here quoted…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

TCR 251

  • "It would be tedious to show from the Word that there are…dual expressions in the Word, which seem like repetitions of the same thing, for to do so would fill many pages. But to remove doubt, I will cite some passages where ‘nation’ and ‘people,’…are mentioned together…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

AE 331 [6]

  • "…‘peoples’ and ‘nations’ signify all who are of the Lord’s church; ‘peoples’ those who are of His spiritual church, and ‘nations’ those who are of His celestial church." Later on in AE 331[8], Zephaniah 2:9 is cited.

AE 653 [6]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:9 ‘Moab’…means the natural man, who from the love of self adulterates the goods of the church, and ‘the sons of Ammon’ mean those who falsify the truths of the church; and as thence is the devastation of all good and truth it is said, ‘a place abandoned to nettles, and a pit of salt, a waste for ever;’ the devastation of all good is signified by ‘a place of nettles,’ and the devastation of all truth, by ‘a pit of salt;’ like things are signified by ‘Sodom and Gomorrah.’"

Coronis 58 [5]

  • "…passages in which the vastation, desolation, and consummation of [the] church, are further mentioned…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited among the many passages.

AC 2220 [2]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:9…where ‘Sodom’ denotes evil from the love of self, and ‘Gomorrah’ the derivative falsity, of both of which ‘desolation’ is here predicated, as previously was ‘overthrown.’ ‘Pride’ is the love of self; to ‘reproach the people of Jehovah Zebaoth,’ is to bring evil upon truths; and to ‘enlarge upon the people,’ is to bring falsity upon them."

AR 502

  • "That ‘Sodom’ is the love of dominating from self-love, may appear from the description of Sodom in Moses, that they wished to do violence to the angels who came into Lot’s house; and that fire and brimstone rained upon them out of heaven…These loves and their evils are signified by ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’…" Zephaniah 2:9 is cited. Then note the continuation of this passage: "That this love is signified by ‘Sodom,’ is not known in the world; but keep this in mind and remember it when you come into the world of spirits, as is done after death, and you will be fully convinced."

Derived Doctrine

"I have heard the reproach of Moab..."

  • The word "reproach" denotes shame and disgrace; it means to discredit, to dishonor, and to blame. When Rachel conceived and bore Joseph, she cried out that "God hath gathered my reproach." She meant that God had ended her barrenness. In the context of Zephaniah 2:8, Moab’s reproach, or shameful act, was adulteration of good, and it would be removed so that the church’s barren state might be ended. Moab signifies the state of people in natural good who allow themselves to easily be led astray. (AC 3242 [3])

"…and the insults of the people of Ammon…"

  • "Ammon" signifies those who falsify truths and live evil lives. (AC 6405 [4])
  • The insults of Ammon conveyed contempt, abuse, a maligning derision.
  • The Lord heard these things. He heard their arrogant threats against Him and His people. Read DLW 50 regarding the seriousness of such derision against the Divine Human.
  • In one sense, we get a glimpse of how little their contempt for the Lord accomplished. Their arrogant threats came against the "borders." Borders signify the lowest parts of the church. This was an attack against fixed boundaries that are set up around what is good so that it cannot be approached and injured by evils from hell. (AC 9492)

Putting It All Together

"Those who have adulterated the Word will utterly perish." (P&P)

Those who want to discredit, mock, speak arrogantly about, and shame the Word of the Lord will not get away with their insults. In case they think they can approach and harm spiritual things, the Lord reminds every listener that people with evil intentions can only come to the edge or border of internal spiritual things. Guards prevent them from spoiling all that is holy. They can attack the externals of memory-knowledges but not the living substance of Love and Wisdom.

Accountability is front and center in these two verses. Moab is linked to Sodom. Ammon is linked to Gomorrah. Just as fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, so will it fall on Moab and Ammon. To illustrate their end, the Lord likens them to overgrown weeds and salt pits. Theirs is to be a life of perpetual desolation.

Does this sound ominous? It depends on which side of the issue one stands on. If a "people" and a "nation" stand with the Lord, it is welcoming and comforting news. If one stands with Moab and Ammon against the "people" and "nation" of the Lord, it has to be distressing news.

There are contrasts throughout these two verses. The repetition has a purpose. The contrasts enable us to see both sides and choose which side we want. Think of Joshua’s words: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." This is a call for dedication against those who would mock and speak arrogantly against the Lord’s truth.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. How many lessons about salt can you recall from the Word?

  2. How many good uses of salt can you recall?

  3. Is salt always a good thing? Isn’t it a poison, too?

  4. Please notice that weeds and their correspondence are also mentioned frequently in the Word. Look for some examples.

  5. This question might be more than you care to take up at this time. There has been a long-time discussion in the church about the eternity of the hells. Some would like to believe that the Lord will only allow people in hell to be there until they come to their senses, whereupon He will lift them into heaven. Others believe that hell is to eternity. What are the foundations of each opinion? Do the words of our verse "a perpetual desolation" answer this debate?

  6. How does the teaching about the "border" strengthen our faith and offer encouragement?

Zephaniah 2:11

"The Lord will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations."

Passages From The Writings


  • "They will perish that whoever is able may acknowledge the Lord."

AC 1158 [4]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:11…‘The isles of the nations’ denote nations more remote from the knowledges of faith."

AR 34

  • "That by ‘islands’ in the Word are signified the nations which are more remote from the worship of God, but which yet will draw near to it, is evident from these passages…" Zephaniah 2:11 is cited.

AE 50 [2]

  • "That ‘islands’ signify nations that are about to accede to the true worship of God, is evident from the following passages…" Zephaniah 2:11 is cited.

AE 406 [15]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:11&12…signifies that the falsities of evil will be dispersed, and truths and goods given to those who are in falsities indeed, but not in the falsities of evil; ‘the gods of the nations that He will make lean’ signify the falsities of evil, ‘gods’ signifying falsities, ‘nations’ evils, and ‘to make lean’ to remove evils from falsities…"

Derived Doctrine

"The Lord will be awesome to them…"

  • Awesome is translated differently in the various translations of the Word. The Writings use the word "terrible." The Authorized Version (King James) uses "dreadful." The New English Bible uses the word "fearsome."
  • These words are all related to fear. Fear, holy fear, is a holy state. (AC 3719)
  • The word "terrible" signifies the omnipotence and omniscience of the Lord. (AE 298 [7])
  • AC 8816 explains that those who do good indeed tremble at the presence of the Lord, but it is a holy tremor that precedes reception.

"He will reduce [thin] to nothing all the gods of the earth…"

  • Thinning or reducing the gods of the earth signifies exposing the empty charity in that which was believed to have been fat, or full of charity, in its externals. (AC 5204)

"People shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations."

  • From this verse, we can derive the point that everyone’s state will provide some means, some extension, by which he or she can worship the Lord. P&P puts it this way for us: "that whoever is able may acknowledge the Lord."

Putting It All Together

Seeing the "awesome," "terrible," "fearsome" God is a good thing. Holy fear inspires and paves the way for the reception of what is holy. The awesome God will cause the gods of pretense to wither away to nothing. They cannot stand His presence. They will disintegrate because their fatness, or substance, was external; it was not based on eternal values. Their form had nothing of spiritual substance. Please note the wonderful transition in P&P. They will perish – that whoever is able – may acknowledge the Lord.

Our spiritual life is richer if we acknowledge the awesome God. If we carry with us a holy fear, we will tremble. I picture the trembling as one of excitement. We see the preparation accomplished by holy fear. It is the preparation to receive greater things then we can imagine.

The false gods are reduced to nothing.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Would you agree that God is awesome? Before you assume that the answer is obvious, think about how many people tend to make God small in their attitudes. Hell, they say, is stronger than heaven. God can't do this or that. We need to review our belief system and put the Lord back in the "awesome" category. It scares hell when we think like this. How can we, as a church, put the Lord back where He belongs in our lives?

  2. Can you see or feel false gods waning in His presence? How?

  3. Can you think of any moments when holy fear made an important difference in your life?

  4. Some fundamentalist Christians believe there is only one way available to reach heaven. How does our lesson soften and enlarge that narrow view?

  5. The voice of Zephaniah 2:11 declares that "each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations" shall worship Him. Doesn't this sound like an inclusive God of all people? What are the implications of that type of inclusiveness?

Zephaniah 2:12-15

"You Ethiopians also, you shall be slain by My sword." And He will stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness. The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be at the threshold; for He will lay bare the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, ‘I am it, and there is none besides me.’ How has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist."

Passages From The Writings


  • "Those who have falsified the knowledges (cognitions) of truth, by means of reasonings and knowledges (scientifica), and have thus destroyed the church, will utterly perish."

AE 406 [15]

  • "…the Kushites’ signify those who are in falsities indeed, but not in the falsities of evil; and in the abstract sense…in the natural, and, therefore ‘the island of nations’ [signifies] the natural man in respect…to the falsities in the natural man; these falsities are signified by ‘slain by My sword,’…"

AC 1186

  • "…the spiritual church (Israel), reason (Asshur) and memory-knowledges (Egypt)…These three constitute the intellectual things of the man of the spiritual church, which follow one another in this order. In other places also where Asshur is named, it signifies the rational, either true or false, as in…Zephaniah 2:13…"

AC 7673 [3]

  • "In many passages…omnipotence is described by ‘Jehovah stretching out His hand,’ as also by ‘His outstretched hand,’ and by ‘His outstretched arm’ – by ‘Jehovah stretching out the hand,’ in the following passages…" Zephaniah 2:13 is cited.

AC 1188 [4]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:13&14…Nineveh is here described, but in the prophetic style, and the falsity itself which is signified by Nineveh. This falsity, because it is worshiped, is called ‘the north, the wild beast of his kind, the cormorant and the bittern in the pomegranates,’ and is described by ‘a voice singing in the windows,’ and by ‘laying bare the cedar,’ which is intellectual truth. All these expressions are significative of such falsity."

AC 3391 [2]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:13&14…where the destruction of the truths of faith by reasonings, which are ‘Asshur,’ is treated of (n. 119, 1186); that a ‘voice shall sing in the windows’ signifies the desolation of truth, thus of the intellectual faculty as to truth."

AC 9552 [2]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:13&14…where ‘pelican and the bittern in the pomegranates’ denote falsities of evil in the memory-knowledges of good."

AR 567

  • "…the affections of a man, in the spiritual world, appear at a distance as beasts…beasts, considered in themselves, are nothing but forms of natural affections, but men are not only forms of natural, but of spiritual affections at the same time. That men, as to their affections, are meant by ‘beasts,’ may appear from these passages…" Zephaniah 2:13-15 is cited.

AE 388 [11]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:13-15…This treats of self intelligence, which confirms falsities and evils by reasonings from knowledges (scientifica), and by applying to them things from the sense of the letter of the Word. ‘The north’ signifies the natural and sensual man, and the knowing [faculty] (scientificum) that belongs to it; and ‘Assyria’ signifies reasoning therefrom; and ‘saying in her heart, I, and none other beside me,’ signifies self-intelligence. This makes clear what is involved in these particulars, in series, namely, ‘Jehovah will stretch out His hand over the north, and will destroy Assyria,’ signifies that He will deprive such a natural man, and its power to understand and reason thence, of all perception of good and understanding of truth; ‘the droves shall lie down in the midst of her, every wild beast of the nation; both the pelican, and the bittern, shall lodge in the chapiters thereof,’ signifies that there shall be falsities of evil, and falsities of thought and perception in the knowledges from the Word everywhere therein, ‘the wild beast of the nation’ meaning the falsity of evil, ‘pelican and bittern’ the falsity of thought and perception, and ‘chapiters’ the knowledges from her heart, ‘I, and none other besides me,’ signifies that such intelligence trusts in itself and draws only from self (ex proprio), ‘city’ signifying doctrine from such intelligence; ‘how is she become a waste, a place for the wild beast to lie down in.’ signifies that it has nothing of truth in it but is full of falses."

AE 650 [56]

  • "In Zephaniah…2:13-15…This describes the vastations of the church by the falsities of doctrine which are from self-intelligence. The ‘north over which Jehovah will stretch out His hand’ signifies the church that is in falsities; ‘Assyria which Jehovah will destroy’ signifies the reasonings from falsities; ‘Nineveh which He shall make a waste, a dry place like the wilderness’ signifies the falsities of doctrine; ‘droves,’ ‘the wild beast of the nation,’ the ‘pelican,’ and the ‘bittern,’ signify the affections of falsities, and falsities themselves interior and exterior."

AC 655

  • "In Zephaniah…2:14…This is said of Asshur and Nineveh; ‘Asshur’ denotes the understanding, here vastated; a ‘voice singing in the windows,’ reasonings from phantasies."

AC 908 [3]

  • "That ‘wild animal’ in the opposite sense is taken in the Word for what is not living, is evident from many passages, of which only the following will be cited, for confirmation… In Zephaniah…2:15…"

Derived Doctrine

Is there a need for derived doctrine for this section? We have some excellent passages that cover almost everything in these verses, but there are a few things we need to add to increase the depth of our understanding. We need some positive correspondences to contrast with the dark and foreboding opposite sense.

"…in the windows…"

  • AE 675 [19] teaches that the windows of heaven signify the Divine inflowing, from which come intelligence and eternal life.
  • AE 282 [5] teaches that "windows" signify a thorough investigation of truth.

"…lodging on the capitals of her pillars…"

  • AC 3115 teaches that "lodging" (spending the night) in the positive sense signifies a state of abiding—as in having a state of or affection for truth.
  • AE 219 [5] teaches that "capitals" (chapiters) signify superior knowledge that helps support heavenly truths.
  • AC 9674 teaches that "pillars" signify what supports heaven and the church, namely the goods of love and of faith from the Lord.
  • Coronis 40 teaches, "The man who has religion, in spiritual things, is like a pelican nourishing its young with its own blood; but the man who has not religion, in those things is like a vulture in a state of starvation devouring its own offspring."

"Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist."

  • To "pass by" is to know and to perceive the quality. (AC 3992)
  • Hissing signifies rejection of falsities of the natural mind. (AC 7444 [2])
  • A "fist" signifies the weakening of a truth from some external or general truth. (AC 9025)
  • To "shake" signifies to divest oneself of unclean things. (AC 1748)
  • Shaking signifies an action taken lest what is damned should adhere to them. (AE 365 [8])

Putting It All Together

Where might we focus to get at the heart of these four verses? We might do well to look at the boast of self-sufficiency. "I am it, and there is none besides me." Isn’t that the attitude which renders all the correspondences in the negative? The spiritual church (Israel), reason (Asshur), and memory-knowledges (Egypt) become falsified. Falsity becomes the thing, or god, to be worshiped. The Lord is absent from the hearts and minds of people with this attitude. They wallow in a pitiful self-sufficiency. The windows of their minds could have received the shining light of heaven. The pillars of their faith could have been supported by superior knowledge. Instead, they chose to have windows turned away from the light of heaven. Instead of turning to the "east," they were cold and indifferent, turning to the north. They were dry as a desert, barren, empty, with a life worthy of the hisses and shaken fists of all who pass by it. The church within them was not a sanctuary for the Lord; it was a sanctuary of wild beasts serving the base desires of their self-love.

In light of these teachings, we can see the meaning of what is in P&P: "Those who have falsified the knowledges of truth, by means of reasonings and knowledges, and have thus destroyed the church, will utterly perish."

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Zephaniah 2:12-15.

Questions To Stimulate Reflection

  1. Were these verses hard to take? Just about everything that might have been a positive correspondence came out negative.

  2. We need to spiritually shake our fists at this self-sufficient attitude to make sure none of its haughtiness adheres to us. The hissing is a rejection of the falsities of the natural mind. Again, we must face the fact that the natural mind, left unprotected and unguarded by the Word, will probably think of itself as beyond everyone and everything. Can you picture these correspondences applying to real happenings in your life? The haughtiness? The hissing? The shaking of the fists?

  3. In a world where getting ahead requires using the word "I" often, do we forget to thank the Lord for His major influence and strength in our life? Does it help to be "we-focused"? Why and how?

  4. These verses urge us to apply their truths positively to our lives. How can we do that?

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