Video available here: http://youtu.be/_Hlf0JWfesU
In William Branham’s effort to “know the author real well,
but not know the Book,” as he claimed throughout his ministry, many books of
the Bible were omitted from his sermons from 1947 to 1965 – most of which
depict the fallen state of Israel, their need for a savior to redeem them from
the curse of the Law, and passages that point to Christ who would one day come
to save them. Zephaniah is yet another
book that was avoided by William Branham.
Interestingly, it also further explained Malachi 4.
The prophecy of Malachi was written to Israel. The name “Malachi” means “My Messenger,” and
his message was written in a scroll that had no chapters, verses, or line
numbers. The title line of that scroll
is found in the first verse: “The oracle
of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.”
This prophecy was telling Israel to be patient. Though they were in a fallen state, living
under the Curse of the Law for having failed to live righteously through
works-righteous faith, God was faithful.
They had suffered captivity in the hands of mighty Babylon, severe
famine and pestilence, loss of wealth, possessions, and even life under the
Curse of the Law. To all nations, Israel
looked like the scorn of God’s eye, and the nations continually plundered
anything God’s children accumulated. It
seemed as though God was supporting her enemies – and He was. That was all part of the curse.
But Malachi prophesied that this curse would one day be
lifted. And all the nations who had rose
against Israel would receive their just reward.
God was going to come to Israel with healing, and fight Israel’s battles
against the foes.
The first few verses in Malachi chapter four describe God’s
promise to redeem Israel from the curse:
the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all
evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says
the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of
righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
After describing how Israel would go leaping like calves
confined to stalls to trample these wicked nations, God reminds them of the
reason this curse was in place:
law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb
for all Israel.”
Because of the words “burning like an oven,” many men have
risen to establish followings that perceive this verse to be telling us, “hell
is coming.” The verse in Malachi 4 that
is foretelling of “Elijah’s” return is pointed to themselves, and they proclaim
themselves to be the redeemer for this day and age.
These men proclaim to be “restorers,” and produce some new
idea of what, exactly, they are restoring.
John Alexander Dowie promoted himself as the “Elijah” of Malachi 4, and
came with a “return ministry” of “healing,” taking the part of the chapter
about “healing in its wings,” and teaching that he was the great “healer” that
was to come. In 1889, Dowie published
his first series entitled “Leaves of Healing,” and quickly rose to a
world-renown faith healer.
But Israel was under the curse of the Law, and the penalty
for failure to uphold the law was death.
Under their agreement with God, the two-part covenant made between the
Children of Israel and God through Moses as the mediator, they were to receive
over 300 blessings for keeping the Law, and 300 curses for failure to uphold
the Law. Over 21 different violations of
the Mosaic Law required death – most of which were counted against Israel time
But those violations were against individuals – not Israel
as a whole. There was one part of the
covenant that affected the entire nation of Israel, one part which was violated
time and again, and that was to serve the gods of Baal. Moses describes the penalty for this at the
end of Deuteronomy 29 when the Covenant was renewed in Moab:
And the next
generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes
from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the
sicknesses with which the Lord has made it sick—the whole land burned out with
brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can
sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which
the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath—all the nations will say, ‘Why has
the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’
Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord,
the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of
the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom
they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them.
Notice the end of Malachi 4, speaking of the restoration of
Israel. The decree of utter destruction
was failure to keep the Old Covenant:
“Behold, I will
send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to
their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and
strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
But there are a few very important things to observe with
this passage. Yes, Malachi is
prophesying the Word of the Lord regarding the return of Elijah, but his return
is to bring restoration before God
brings the penalty. And the restoration
of the Children of Israel to their former state is what stops the destruction –
hence the words “LEST I come and strike.”
This is not a restoration for the end of the world – It is a restoration
of Israel to into Grace after breaking the covenant of Law.
That is the reason that these “restoration ministry” cult
leaders who promote themselves as the “return of Elijah” all promote laws and
works-righteous faith. The verse, “Remember
the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded” must be
pointed to their ministry as a new commandment and not a historical
But the most important thing to note is the word “he.” “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to
the children and the children to the fathers.”
The meaning of this sentence is drastically changed, taking
the Old English version of this sentence and making it sound like Elijah is the
one to come and restore. And it is not
translated incorrectly – “He” will come to restore – but that “He” is “Jesus,”
not a man. Restoration required a
Kinsman Redeemer, not a prophet. The
Lamb must come and take our place, paying our penalty for us – something that a
prophet could not do.
It’s interesting, because I’m sure the translators never
dreamed that the glory would be taken away from the Lamb and pointed towards a
man – otherwise, they would have never translated it this way. The word “he” was not in the original
translation. Literally translated,
Malachi 4:6 reads like this:
A curse, the
land, and smite, come, so, their fathers, unto, of the children, and the
hearts, children, unto, of the fathers, the hearts, will restore.
It should be no shock that the book of Zephaniah – the book
that William Branham seems to have avoided in his ministry – confirms the
prophecy of Malachi. It goes into great
detail regarding the coming destruction, cursing Israel to be obliterated from
the face of the earth. But just as the
cry comes forth describing destruction with no way out, a cry of redemption
There is only one single instance of William Branham
mentioning the book of Zephaniah, and it was only by mistake. He turned to the wrong chapter, and then
blamed his mistake on his Bible:
Here, let's--let's get a Scripture here, let--let's get
Zecharah 4:1, then we can maybe get from Zechariah there what we want.
Zechariah 4:1, and I believe then maybe in this we'll be able to--to pull
together that what we're wanting. I can't find Zechariah in Zephaniah, can I?
All right. All right. My old Bible's about wore out.
Zephaniah starts by describing the coming judgment on Judah:
“I will utterly
sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will
sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the
fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the
earth,” declares the Lord. “I will
stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the
idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to
the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear
by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the Lord, who do not seek
the Lord or inquire of him.”
Imagine reading this passage in the way that Branham taught
us to read our bibles: “take this verse as a context for our message.”
If we read only this single portion of Zephaniah’s prophecy,
it sounds like impending doom. Sudden
death. This must be the End of Days!
But the Bible was not written in single verses that were
intended to be the basis for an entire sermon.
It was not even written in single chapters from which to gleam
doctrines. The books of the Bible were
written in scrolls – one single canvas of text, intended to be read completely.
If you continue into the first chapter of Zephaniah, you’ll
find reference to Christ:
before the Lord God! For the day of the
Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.
But even that verse alone is not enough to change how this
chapter sounds. If you only read the
first few verses, it sounds like the End of Days. If you only read the first chapter, it sounds
like Armegeddon. The first chapter ends
I will bring
distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have
sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their
flesh like dung. Neither their silver
nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the
Lord. In the fire of his jealousy, all
the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the
inhabitants of the earth.
This makes you want to tremble in fear! That was the intention! God was reminding the Children of Israel that
they had abandoned the Old Covenant, and were condemned to death! God was jealous, and they deserved a sudden
and painful death.
Even continuing on to the second chapter, you won’t find
reason to rejoice. God, speaking through
Zephaniah, gives a prophecy of destruction for Israel and the nations that
brought her into idolatry. Israel
deserved to pay the price, but God felt that the surrounding nations should
also pay the penalty. That thought
continues into chapter three. Listen to
for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day
when I rise up to seize the prey. For my
decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation,
all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be
Again, if we preach from the book of Zephaniah in the way
that these cult pastors preach today, this is a dreadful book of prophecy. Any single verse that we pull from the scroll
sounds like an awful fate! But like any
sermon given over a verse that is taken out of context, we are missing the GOOD
This entire scroll is God describing how angry that he is
with Israel for abandoning their agreement and breaking the Old Covenant. God is telling them that according to that
binding contract, they deserved to die!
It might as well be Armegeddon – God was going to wipe them off of the
face of the earth, along with all the idolatrous nations!
But don’t forget the Kinsman Redeemer! The GOOD STUFF is coming!
God had a chosen Bride, and that bride had guests to the
wedding supper. Israel was chosen to
bring for the Christ Child, and God was going to restore her to her former
state. But not just Israel! God was going to grant salvation to the
idolatrous Gentiles! And Israel had no
idea this was coming – all they knew was Old Covenant Law. They had long forgotten the Covenants made
with Noah and Abraham – they were suffering punishment for their idolatry!
Listen to how the prophecy of Zephaniah ends, and you’ll see
why it is such a disaster for these pastors to teach our children snipping out
a single verse or even a single chapter from a book of the Bible. While any verse they choose in this book
would proclaim doomsday destruction, God reminds us at the end that he DID make
a covenant with Noah, and that covenant said that he would never again wipe
mankind from the face of the earth.
Zephaniah confirms Malachi 4, and tells us WHO is going to
restore. Not “Elijah,” but the LORD is
coming into their midst! And the LORD
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with
all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away
your enemies. The King of Israel, the
Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to
Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty
one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by
his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the
festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all
your oppressors. And I will save the
lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and
renown in all the earth. At that time I
will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you
renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your
fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.