“Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. 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.” – Zeph. 3:8,9
Throughout the Scriptures, earth, when used symbolically, represents society. Fire represents the destruction of whatever is burned-tares, dross, earth (social organizations) as in our key verse from Zeph. 3:8: “I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, … for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” The trouble described here is so great that the world is said to be burned up with the Lord’s anger. The fire of God’s zeal is a forcible symbol representing the intensity of the trouble and the destruction which will envelop the whole earth (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21,22).
With this in mind, if we turn to Peter’s symbolic prophecy of the Day of Wrath (2 Peter 3), we will find it in full agreement with the word of the prophets. “The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” It should be pointed out that the literal earth and heavens did not cease there, but the arrangement of things that existing before the flood passed away. “But the heavens and earth, which are now [the present arrangement], by the same word [of divine authority] are kept in store, reserved unto fire.” The fact that the water was real or literal has led some to believe that the fire must also be literal, but this is not the case. Peter goes on to tell us, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night [unobserved]; in the which the heavens [present powers of the air, of which Satan is the chief or prince] shall pass away with a great noise, … the earth also and the works that are therein [pride, injustice, greed, etc.] shall be burned up. … Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens [Christ’s kingdom] and a new earth” [earth’s society organized on a new basis of love and justice, instead of might and oppression] (2 Peter 3:6,7,10,13).
We see from verse 9 of Zephaniah 3, that after the destruction of the present social order, God will provide mankind with the pure word of truth. “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.”