Things to know
Where does the book begin?
Zephaniah wrote just before the army from Babylon came to Judah.
Where does the book end?
The last words speak of a time when God will return the wealth of His people.
People to know
Places to go
God swept the Earth
The day of the Lord* was coming soon
Seek the Lord*
Animals went in the streets
Have no more fear
The Story of Zephaniah
We do not know much about the prophet* Zephaniah. Many people think he lived during the time of King Josiah. He was a good king. He made many changes in Judah. He called the people back from their evil* ways. He told them to serve God again. So the things Zephaniah said helped the king turn the people back to God.
He began his book by talking about the day of the Lord. Obadiah ended his book that way. He said that this day would be a ‘day’ when God would judge* ‘all who live in the earth‘. Like the other prophets*, he spoke to the people in his own day. But his message also spoke about a future day. He said that both Israel* and Jerusalem stood under God’s wrath* now. But, in God’s plan, there was hope* and a future for all the children of Abraham.
Now, God would punish all of those who turned away from him. Zephaniah said that God would judge the whole earth. Even the birds and the fish would suffer. God would judge everything he made. He would wipe out all of these living things, including people. God would even judge the land. Judah stood under God’s wrath* because they had turned away from him. God made them in his own image, but they did not worship* him. They did not honour him. They followed after the gods that they made.
Zephaniah used most of the book to warn the people about the ‘day of the LORD*’. But he ended with a call to the people who still followed him to pursue the Lord*. If they did this, they would find shelter in God from the wrath* to come. He called those who still listened to God, ‘righteous*’. The righteous* are those who put their trust* in God during those days of trouble. They waited for the ‘appointed time’ to come. They were the ones that did right and were humble. God would show his wrath*. But he would not forget the promises he had made.
Zephaniah then began to talk about the nations. God would judge his own people and he would judge all other people too. He warned the nations that were cruel to Israel. He warned them of the coming day when God would show his wrath*. He named Philistia, Moab and Ammon; Cush, and Assyria. The prophet* then turned to Jerusalem, ‘who does not trust* in the LORD.’ God’s people had not learned from the other nations. So God would punish them too. God was a righteous* God. He lived among them. They should have been loyal to God. But because they were not, Judah would feel his wrath* just like the other nations.
Why would God bring this judgement*? God wanted to make the nations clean from evil so ‘that all of them may call on the name of the LORD*’. In that day, all of those who were proud would be swept away. Only the ones who were humble would remain along with the people of Israel*. God was punishing them now. But some day, he would rescue them.
Many years after this, Judah would go into exile*. But God would bring Judah back to Jerusalem. God would bring his people home. He would bring them out of Babylon. He would put them back in their land. But his words also described another day. It was a day that would take place in the distant future. This was the day when God’s Messiah* would rule the whole earth. It was the same day the prophet* Joel spoke about in his book. After a time of judgement*, God would bring his people home. He would make everything completely right.
-  2 Kings 22:1
-  Zephaniah 1:18
-  Zephaniah 1:10-12
-  See Genesis 12:2-3
-  Zephaniah 1:2-3
-  Zephaniah 1:4-13
-  Zephaniah 1:5, 9b
-  Zephaniah 2:3
-  See Daniel 12:4; Habakkuk 2:3
-  Zephaniah 2:3b
-  Zephaniah 3:5b-7
-  Zephaniah 3:9
-  Zephaniah 3:12-13
The Old Testament | The Books of Minor Prophets