The Book of Zephaniah
The Book Of Zephaniah
Introduction The Book of Zephaniah
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
|1. Historical Facts|
ZEPHANIAH (zehf uh ni' uh)
Personal name meaning, "Yahweh sheltered or stored up" or "Zaphon (god) is Yahweh."
ZEPHANIAH, BOOK OF
The Book of Zephaniah, only three chapters in length, looks toward the punishment of all sinful nations, including Judah, followed by the restoration of Judah and the nations as well.
The Prophet Zephaniah
The first verse tells all we really know about the prophet. His ancestry is traced back four generations to a man named Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the king of Judah by that name who reigned in the late eighth century during the ministry of Isaiah (2 Kings 18-20). Zephaniah belonged to the royal line. He led the way for the revival of the Jews during the time of King Josiah (good king) (621 B.C.). Josiah instituted a sweeping reformation of worship in Judah (see 2 Kings 22:3-23:25), which officially abolished the worship of Baal and the stars mentioned in Zephaniah 1:4-6.
Contents of the Book
Zephaniah looked toward a future punishment. In 1:2-6 he predicted punishment upon the whole world, including Jerusalem. The immediate fulfillmetn occurred when Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, captured Judah. Punishment would come upon the nobles at the king's court, those who gained materially through violence, the merchants, and those who denied the power of God to reward good or punish evil. The ultimate fulfillment will yet occur in the "Day of the Lord," during the Tribulation Years. Verses 17-18 depict the inability of sinful humanity to escape God's punishment.
The second chapter contains a series of threats against the Philistines (vv. 4-7), the Moabites and Ammonites (vv. 8-11), the Ethiopians (v. 12), and the Assyrians (vv. 13-15). Zephaniah called all nations to repent and become righteous and meek. Zephaniah would not presume on God's grace by promising forgiveness, but he counseled turning to righteousness and meekness as the means for possibly avoiding punishment on the Day of the Lord.
The third chapter is marked by a change in perspective between verses 7 and 8. The first seven verses pronounce a woe upon Jerusalem for oppression within her walls. Her princes preyed like lions upon their people; her prophets committed treachery, and her priests polluted the Temple. God indicted the people not only for their sins, but also for their failure to receive instruction from his dealings with other nations.
Beginning with verse 8, however, the tone is quite positive toward Israel. Verses 8 and 14 admonish the people to wait for God to act and to rejoice for what He will do, respectively. Verses 8-13 promise that God will punish the nations and convert them from idolatry. What is more, He promises to remove the haughty from Mount Zion, leaving behind a meek and humble people. Verses 14-20 predict the cessation of punishment and oppression and the return of exiles. God Himself is called the king of Israel (v. 15). His presence alleviates any reason to fear the nations. God will punish the oppressors and bring home the exiles. Thus the book ends with a message of hope, based on God's mercy.
OUTLINE OF ZEPHANIAH
I. The Author and Time of the Prophecy, 1:1
II. The Prophecies of Judgment, 1;2-3:8
A. Judgment on Judah, 1:2-3
B. An Exhortation to Repent, 2:1-3
C. Judgments on Gentile Nations, 2:4-15
1. Philistia (to the West), 2:4-7
2. Cush (Ethiopia, to the South), 2:12
3. Assyria (to the North), 2:13-15
D. Judgment on Jerusalem, 3:1-7
E. Judgment on the Nations, 3:8
III. The Prophecies of Blessing, 3:9-20
A. Future Blessings for Gentiles, 3:9-10
B. Future Blessings for Jews, 3:11-20