I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” Says the LORD. (Zephaniah 1:3 NKJV)
That verse caught me off-guard when I read it. Would the LORD really destroy all the birds? I hadn’t noticed that verse before. So, I went in search of what was meant by it and here are some of my findings:
From Geneva Bible Translation Notes:
“The Argument – Seeing the great rebellion of the people, and that there was now no hope of amendment, he gives notice of the great judgment of God, which was at hand, showing that their country would be utterly destroyed, and they would be carried away captives by the Babylonians.” In response as to the beast, birds and fish being consumed – “Not that God was angry with these dumb creatures, but because man was so wicked for whose cause they were created, God makes them to take part of the punishments with him.” God had created the critters and fish for man, but because of man’s sin, they (critters) are included in the judgement.
From John Darby’s Synopsis:
“The prophet (Zephaniah) begins by declaring that the land should be reduced to complete desolation; afterwards, that Judah, Jerusalem, their false gods, and their priests, should be smitten by the hand of Jehovah. The idolaters, those who mingled the name of Jehovah with that of other gods, those who had turned back from Jehovah, those who had not sought Him, …” Some of the other commentaries also indicated this mix of God and other gods. The New Testament reveals this is not an acceptable way of life in “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13 NKJV)
The other commentaries seem to indicate the same, that because their sin was so bad, God was going to judge them. Have the birds and critters been caught in the judgment of man other times in the Bible? Yes! Here are some examples from Torrey’s Topical Textbook:
As you can see, each time, man’s sin caused or will cause them to suffer.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV)
Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; They grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth But far from their mind. But You, O LORD, know me; You have seen me, And You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, And prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, And the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, For the wickedness of those who dwell there, Because they said, “He will not see our final end.” (Jeremiah 12:1-4 NKJV)
so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.’ (Ezekiel 38:20 NKJV)
Hear the word of the LORD, You children of Israel, For the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed. Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away With the beasts of the field And the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away. (Hosea 4:1-3 NKJV)
God is going to judge the world and everyone in it. Here in America and around the world, the sinfulness of mankind just continues to increase. How long before we are judged and the critters caught in that judgment with us?