THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH
Zephaniah prophesied about 630 B.C. in the early part of the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah. It was a time of revival in the kingdom of Judah, but because of the hidden sins of the nation the impending Babylonian captivity was inevitable. A number of Gentile nations are mentioned as also facing trouble because of the visitation of Divine judgments.
The book may be divided into four parts as follows:
1. Chs. 1:1 to 2:3. The coming judgment of Judah.
2. Chapter 2:4-15. Judgment on certain nations.
3. Chapter 3:1-7. The moral state of Jerusalem.
4. Chapter 3:8-20. Latter day judgments and the restoration of Israel.
THE COMING JUDGMENT OF JUDAH.
The subject of Chapter one is two-fold. As God enlightened the prophet, he spoke of the coming downfall of Judah and Jerusalem, vs.3-4. This was accomplished by the Babylonian invasion. In addition, Zephaniah speaks of the future “day of the Lord” when God shall send His judgments upon the earth at the end of this present age. The only bright spot in the whole picture is that those who seek the Lord and His righteousness shall be hidden in that day, Ch. 2:3, which no doubt refers to the rapture of the saints.
JUDGMENT ON CERTAIN NATIONS.
In Ch. 3, Gaza and certain other towns of the Philistines are mentioned, as also Moab, Ammon, the Ethiopians, and Assyria, who would all not doubt come under the scourge of the Chaldean invasion of those parts. Such is the oft-repeated sentiment one meets with in the books of the minor prophets.
THE MORAL STATE OF JERUSALEM.
From the first part of Ch.3, one learns how utterly godless Jerusalem had become. Her rulers were as cruel as roaring lions and evening wolves; her prophets were light and treacherous; and her priests polluted the sanctuary and despised the law. For this the just Lord, who dwelled in the midst, must visit judgment, vs. 5-7. He poured His wrath first upon the surrounding nations in the hope that Judah would be warned, but to no avail.
LATTER DAY JUDGMENTS AND THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.
In the closing verses of Ch. 3, we read that God will wait until the last days. Then He will gather the nations against His people, judge the former for their many sins, v.8, and restore Israel unto Himself, v.9. So thorough shall be their transformation that the Lord can say, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies”, v.13. The future kingdom blessing is then outlines, vs. 14-20, during which time the Jew shall be exalted among the nations, and his day of shame and reproach shall pass away forever.