In our study, we will look at jealousy which is the dark side of love. We have all heard that God is love but we do not often hear that He is also a jealous God and He is jealous because of that love for His people.
"The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:" NIV translation
We are introduced to the prophet Zephaniah and see that he was from a royal family (Hezekiah was the 14th king of Judah). He is the only known Old Testament prophet of royalty. This fact is a reminder that God will usually use the lesser things (and people) of this world but He can use the rich and famous as well.
"'I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,' declares the Lord. 'I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,' declares the Lord." NIV translation
The prophet wastes no time in sharing the fact that God is going to completely judge the earth and everything that is on it. The fact that nothing will escape is demonstrated by the fact that even the fish of the sea will be judged. The Jews would have been aware of the judgment of God as they would have known the story of Noah and the flood but this judgment is different in that it is total (Creatures in the sea were not judged with the flood). This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled but we get details of what is to come in the book of Revelation.
"'I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem.'" NIV translation
This may, at first, seem shocking to us as we do not often hear about God judging His people but, as we saw, this judgment is total and it begins with God's people. Judah refers to the southern kingdom of God's people and Jerusalem is and was God's city. This is also a picture of God's judgment on the philosophy of human government. When God chose His people and made them a nation, He was to be their King but the people wanted to be like the nations around them. Instead of being lovingly ruled by God they chose to be ruled by men and so it is to this day but that is going to change.
"I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests - those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the Lord and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him." NIV translation
Here, we are introduced to the "dark side of love" which is jealousy. We see that God says He will cut off those that worship false gods alongside Him. God insists that His people worship none but Him and that was the first of His commandments given to Moses (see Exodus 20). It is the same for us today in that God wants us to be Holy (set apart) for Him.
"Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. The Lord has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited." NIV translation
This verse speaks of the day of the Lord and what is commonly called the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). On this "day of the Lord", there will be no paying lip service to God like the idolatry that was occurring among Judah. The Lamb's Book Of Life contains the guest list for the wedding supper and entry was paid for by Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
"On the day of the Lord's sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes." NIV translation
There is a dress code for this event and the appropriate clothing is apparel that has been washed white by Jesus Christ. Those that do not have garments of white will not be allowed in and in fact they will be sent to their punishment.
"On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit." NIV translation
On the day of judgment, those who practiced idolatry will be punished. The "stepping on the threshold" refers to the priests and followers of Dagon (see 1 Samuel 5:5).
"'On that day,' declares the Lord, 'a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.'" NIV translation
As we saw in Nehemiah 3, the Fish Gate was where the fishermen brought the fish into the city to provide food for the people. We see that, on this day of judgment, God will remove His hand of provision from the people and they will cry out.
"'Wail, you who live in the market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined.'" NIV translation
On this day the commercial system will be judged as well. This is similar to what is described by John in Revelation 18.
"'At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, "The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad."'" NIV translation
In their idolatry, there were those who said that God was like a wooden idol and did not do anything. On the day of judgment, these people will see that God is both alive and active. The same thing is happening today as many believe in a distant god that they just pray to when they need something.
"Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine." NIV translation
This verse speaks of the fact that they will go from having plenty to being slaves.This is much like what is described in Revelation 6 where John describes how the people will work a whole day just to buy food for themselves.
"'The great day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there.'" NIV translation
You can almost feel how near this day is today as it feels like things are speeding up. This day of judgment is surely coming and it will indeed be a bitter day for those that are not trusting in Christ.
"'That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth.'" NIV translation
Today, many people have only been told about a part of God's nature which is His love for us and so many will ask "How could our loving God do this to His people?" The simple fact of the matter is that, on this day, God's children will not be on the earth to experience His wrath. Zephaniah tells us that those who are there on this day have "sinned against the Lord" but what does that mean as we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? The sin that is referred to is the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Lord of our lives.
"'Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord's wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.'" NIV translation
We see, in this verse, the dark side of love which is jealousy. This is even more relevant today as many people have elevated idols to a place in their lives that is to be reserved for God the Creator. He is patient and so He allows this to continue for a time but the "fire of his jealousy" is building. On this day of judgment, the idols and even their money will not save them.