The Book of Zephaniah
The book of Zephaniah features three chapters and 53 verses, and contains a very simple message — the Lord’s wrath is coming upon Judah. Zephaniah — which means “Jehovah hides” — was the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah (1:1), and he prophesied during the days of King Josiah. Josiah led the nation of Judah out of wickedness, and it was likely Zephaniah’s prophecy that was a contributing factor to the change. But when Josiah died at the age of 39, the nation quickly returned to business as usual.
Zephaniah 1: What have the people done that is bringing such a severe judgment against them? They have a divided heart (1:5-6), which has led to a multitude of sins — idolatry, lying, materialism, complacency, and backsliding. Because of that, God says their plans will amount to nothing (1:13); they won’t be able to enjoy any of His blessings. We must learn from their mistakes. We, too, can become stagnant in spirit. What’s the solution? Open our hearts and allow our relationship with God to grow and develop.
Zephaniah 2: The people of God are called to repent before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon them. What does that look like (2:3)? Seek the Lord. Seek righteousness. Seek humility. God is so serious about this that His wrath will also come upon the surrounding nations of Judah. So, repent. Judgment is coming. But it’s not just doing the commands of God and keeping the laws. It’s also about seeking God. Seeking righteousness. Seeking humility. Do you desire God?
Zephaniah 3: Judah, just like the other nations, does not listen to God’s voice, does not accept correction, does not trust God, and does not draw near to God (3:1). They are corrupt. But the faithful are told to wait for the Lord, and He will restore His people (3:8-9). There will be joy, gladness, love, and singing. The Lord has given them great assurance. We have been given great assurance by God if we obey His voice. Judah was a mess because they had stopped listening to God. Does your life need turned around? Listen to God.
The message of Zephaniah is simple: Judgment is coming, but for those who heed the warning to repent, blessings will flow. The “day of the Lord” is coming for us, too (II Pet. 3:10), and if we heed the warning to repent and remain faithful, we will enjoy the blessing of eternal life.
—By Steven Matthews