Read: Zephaniah 1-3

Unlike Amos, Zephaniah was a man from royal lineage, from the line of Hezekiah, one of the greatest kings of Judah. He spoke during the time of Josiah, another notable king in Judah’s history. Even so, his message is just as hard as other prophets–he wasn’t trying to win friends because of his heritage.

There will come a time when God will clean house completely.

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
for the day of the Lord is near.
Zephaniah 1:7

In other words, shut up and listen! Zephaniah has something to say and it is from the Lord. Those who have become complacent will be caught up in their ritualistic worship of idols. This is a modern message from an ancient prophet; words which reveal much pain:

“I will bring such distress on all people
that they will grope about like those who are blind,
because they have sinned against the Lord.
Zephaniah 1:17

The end of time will come suddenly, and as we’re told, without warning:

In the fire of his jealousy
the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live on the earth.
Zephaniah 1:18

Chapter 1 sets the stage and chapter 2 provides a list of those nations specifically called out to repent:

  • Judah – Zephaniah 2:1-3.
    • Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.
      Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
  • Philistia – Zephaniah 2:4-7
    • That land will belong to the remnant of the people of Judah; there they will find pasture.
  • Moab and Ammon – Zephaniah 2:8-11
    • The remnant of my people will plunder them; the survivors of my nation will inherit their land.
  • Cush  – Zephaniah 2:12
    • You Cushites, too, will be slain by my sword.
  • Assyria (esp Nineveh)  – Zephaniah 2:13-15
    • He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert.

Chapter 3 focuses on Jerusalem, the pride of the Israelites.

Woe to the city of oppressors,
rebellious and defiled!
She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
she does not draw near to her God.

Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
    and every new day he does not fail,
    yet the unrighteous know no shame.
Zephaniah 3:1-2,5

They know no shame. Their effort was focused on selfish desire, all were corrupt.

Of Jerusalem I thought,
‘Surely you will fear me
and accept correction!’
Then her place of refuge would not be destroyed,
nor all my punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
to act corruptly in all they did.
Zephaniah 3:7

Why were they so bent on corruption? Is “they” really “we?” The Lord will speak and his word will purify the lips of all peoples.

On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame
for all the wrongs you have done to me,
because I will remove from you
your arrogant boasters.
Never again will you be haughty
on my holy hill.
Zephaniah 3:11

Haughty on my holy hill…interesting. Arrogance will be stripped away. The self-serving desires of all people will be replaced with righteousness.

The remnant of Israel
will trust in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong;
they will tell no lies.
Zephaniah 3:12-13

This is the day we long for:

At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.
Zephaniah 3:20


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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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