‘”I will utterly consume all things from off the land,” says the LORD. “I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the sky, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked! And I will cut off man from off the land,” says the LORD!… (Yet) from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my suppliants…shall bring My offering!… I will get…praise and fame in every hand!… At that time, I will bring you back again! For I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the Earth!’ Zephaniah 1:2 to 3:20.
Calvin comments: “The Prophet denounces ruin, and shows…why God was so…displeased with the people…. Since the benefit was so small, what could he have hoped for after…death?…
“It may now be asked, why God denounces His vengeance on ‘the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the fishes of the sea’?… Howsoever much the Jews may have provoked Him by their sins — innocent animals ought to have been spared? If…the soul that has sinned is to die — why did God turn His wrath against fishes and other animals?…
“Animals were created for man’s use. They must undergo a lot in common with him. For God made subservient to man — both the birds of the sky, and the fishes of the sea, and all other animals. It is then no matter of wonder, that the condemnation of him who enjoys a sovereignty over the whole Earth — should reach animals…. The world was not made subject to corruption willingly…, but because the contagion from Adam’s fall diffused itself through Heaven and Earth…. All the animals…and the whole world bear marks of God’s wrath — not because they have provoked it through their own fault, but because the whole world is involved in man’s curse…. Because all things were created for the sake of man….
“He says…’I will remove all things from the face of the land’… His sole purpose, was to punish the wicked…. Do not think that God’s controversy is with…creatures which are void of reason!… He also adds, ‘I will remove man from the face of the land.’ He…refers to men only….
“‘(Nevertheless, later,) from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my suppliants…shall bring My offering!’ … The Kingdom would be enlarged! For the Church was to be gathered from all nations!… Some would come to God from the utmost parts of Ethiopia….
“(‘I will bring you back again!’) Though the Church would be maimed and torn, there would yet be nothing that could hinder God to restore her…. He declares that nothing could possibly prevent God from gathering His Church, and restoring it to its full vigour and strength…. The restoration of the Church, would be a kind of resurrection…. The Lord would humble His people….
But He would at length gather them…, so…that they would not only breathe but be replenished with such new vigour — as though they had received no loss!”
God consumes man and beast! But God shall also bring His people back again, and make them a praise among all people of the Earth! Shall you too then be among God’s people?