Further reproofs for sin. (1-7) Encouragement to look for mercy. (8-13) Promises of future favour and prosperity. (14-20)
Verses 1-7 The holy God hates sin most in those nearest to him. A sinful state is, and will be, a woful state. Yet they had the tokens of God's presence, and all the advantages of knowing his will, with the strongest reasons to do it; still they persisted in disobedience. Alas, that men often are more active in doing wickedness than believers are in doing good.
Verses 8-13 The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.
Verses 14-20 After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God's Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God's love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.
In this chapter the character of the city of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants in general, is drawn, as it would be, and as it was, in the times of Christ and his apostles, Zep 3:1,2 and of the principal persons of it in particular, its princes, judges, prophets, and priests, Zep 3:3,4. The hardness, impenitence, and shamelessness of this people, are exposed and aggravated by the just Lord being among them; who, by his example and doctrine, taught them otherwise; yet they were not amended or made ashamed, Zep 3:5 nor received instruction, nor took warning by the judgments of God on other nations, Zep 3:6,7 wherefore the followers of God are called upon to wait his time, who would gather many people together, and destroy the whole land of Judea, Zep 3:8 at which time he would send his Gospel among the Gentiles, who should thereby be brought to the true worship and service of God, Zep 3:9,10 though there should be a remnant among the Jews, according to the election of grace, that should be saved from that general calamity, Zep 3:11-13 and the spiritual Israel are encouraged with promises of better times, when the Jews in general should be converted and gathered into the church of God, have the presence and protection of God with them, and deliverance from all their enemies, and be a praise among all people of the earth, Zep 3:14-20.
The Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.