In this thread, I would like to discuss Zephaniah 3:9,  a rather obscure verse that prophesies the coming of Islam. Below is the verse as it appears in three different translations:

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent (King James Version)

“For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, That all of them may call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder (New American Standard Version)

“Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder (New International Version)

Pay attention to the keywords underlined in the above verse. Upon understanding the meanings of those words in Hebrew we see that the passage is foretelling a time when people, standing shoulder to shoulder (in unity), would call upon God in a “pure language”. In order to analyze the keywords in that verse, I will – God willing – present the word, its Hebrew equivalent, a link to a Bible lexicon, examples of the word used in other places and a short comment. To verify the actual meanings of the word in question, please look up the passages where the word is used in other contexts.

1. “People”
The Hebrew word used is “am” (Strongs word number: 5971)
Meaning: people, nation, persons, members of one’s people, compatriots, country-men, kinsman, kindred
(Other uses: Genesis 11:6, Genesis 17:6)
Comment: Though addressed to the Israelites, the Hebrew word for “people” also refers to people in general, as opposed to any one particular ethnicity.

2. “Pure”
The Hebrew word used is “Barar” (Strongs word number: 1305)
Meaning: to purify, select, polish, choose, purge, cleanse or make bright, test or prove
(Other uses : Daniel 11:35; Daniel 12:10)

3. “Language”
The Hebrew word used is “Saphah” (Strongs word number: 8193)
Meanings: lip, language, speech, shore, bank, brink, brim, side, edge, border, binding
(Other uses : Genesis 11:6-7, Genesis 11:9)
Comment: The word  can also mean physical “lips”. But in the context of the verse, the word refers to a pure language. This points towards the use of a common liturgical language that is used by all worshipers.

4. “Call upon”
The Hebrew word used is “Qara” (Strongs word number : 7121)
Meanings: to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim
(Other uses: Exodus 1:18, Genesis 12:8)
Comment: In a new language, will people call upon God. The above meanings apply to Muslims who literally call out to God during the call to prayer; and who recite praises to God in prayer and even in everyday speech.

5. “One consent” / “Shoulder to shoulder”
The Hebrew word used is “shekem” (Strongs word number: 7926)
Meanings: shoulder, back shoulder, shoulder-blade, back
(Other uses: Genesis 21:14, Genesis 24:45)
Comment: This suggests unity in worship. This unity can only be achieved if adherents of the religion pray in the same way, use the same language and pray at the same time. This unity in worship is flawlessly reflected in Islam, where Muslims literally stand shoulder to shoulder in prayer.

In light of the above, Zephaniah 3:9 is speaking of an “update” to the monotheistic religion of the worship of the God  of Abraham. It points towards a time when the worship of God would take place in a new language, with worshipers displaying a sense of unity. Since the Hebrew speaking Israelites are being told of a “pure language”, as opposed to, say, “your language” or “the Hebrew language”, it must refer to a language other than the Hebrew language of the Israelites. Besides Hebrew, the Arabic language is the ONLY other language that is liturgically used throughout the world in the worship of the God of Abraham. And what religion utilizes Arabic? Only Islam.

The unity in worship spoken of in Zephaniah 3:9 cannot be fulfilled in Christianity, a religion whose adherents around the world pray to God in their own language, in different ways and during different times. However, the unity of worship spoken of in Zephaniah 3:9 is most certainly fulfilled in Islam. Even though Arabs comprise only 20% of the worlds Muslim population, practising Muslims the world over, regardless of their own language and ethnicity, pray in Arabic even if they themselves can’t speak Arabic in conversation.

This is undoubtedly a prophecy, like many others, that has been fulfilled in the coming of Islam.

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