Comments on Verses from Prophets

Zephaniah

Zephaniah 1:2 “’I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,’ declares the LORD.”

Here is a wonderful example of prophetic language. For those who seek literal interpretations of every verse of the Bible it creates a difficult problem. This is a prophecy against Judah. The language is hyperbolic, exaggerated to the end. God is making a point and that point is Judah will be destroyed. They were and birds still exist and so do beasts and mankind. It isn’t meant to be taken literally as many other passages like it aren’t. The prophet makes sure through language that God is finished with Judah as a chosen people.

It’s the same thing as when we say, “I could eat a horse.” We are implying that we are very hungry but we don’t expect to be taken literally and we don’t consider it a lie. It is a proper use of language. Prophets use it a lot. Daniel loves it. John in Revelation loves it.  In the midst of the language of total destruction comes a word of a remnant. There will be meadows for flocks. We know the sheep will not all be destroyed. There is always a remnant. It may be as small as eight or four but the remnant will be saved.

Task for Today: When you read the scriptures watch out for hyperbolic language. Don’t interpret the Bible as totally literal when it obviously isn’t. This is really important in the last book. Look for the message, not the words. For instance, was Jesus being literal when he said seventy times seven? Can you think of other exaggerations He or the disciples used?

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