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Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to deliver them
on the Day of Yahweh’s wrath,
but the whole earth will be devoured
by the fire of his jealousy;
for he will make an end,
yes, a terrible end
of all those who live on the earth. Bible

“Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of Yahweh’s wrath.” In the wars of the ancient world, often the weaker nation was able to give silver, gold and other wealth to the stronger nation to pay them off and avoid total destruction. This was common, and occurs several times in the biblical record (cp. 1 Kings 20:1-4; 2 Kings 12:18; 18:14; 23:31-33). But in this case the people sinned against God, and unlike earthly rulers, God is not interested in gold and silver. No one can pay off God; sin deserves wrath, and His wrath will come! For more on the “Day of Yahweh,” see commentary on Zeph. 1:7).

“the whole earth will be devoured.” Although some scholars believe this is “apocalyptic language” and just refers to the land of Israel, the scope of Scripture argues against that (see commentary below, “on the earth”).

“on the earth.” Although this could also be translated “in the land,” the beginning of the chapter applies more to the whole earth (cp. Zeph. 1:1-2) and there are many other scriptures that refer to the tribulation on both Israel and the nations of the earth (see commentary on Dan. 12:1). Thus, there does not seem to be any good reason to restrict this wrath to just the land of Israel, and some very good reasons not to. The Messiah will rule over the whole earth, and so all the evil on earth must be destroyed and the whole earth cleansed in preparation for his rule. The Book of Revelation describes the seal-judgments, trumpet-judgments, thunder-judgments, bowl-judgments, and Battle of Armageddon, and collectively they will involve the entire earth. In the end, there are only two ends facing each person, just as verses such as John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 state: each person will either “perish” or get saved and live forever.


Commentary for: Zephaniah 1:18