The Summary of Zephaniah
Zephaniah wrote it circa 630 B.C. very soon before the fall of Judah in the Southern Kingdom.
The purpose of this book was to show that God raised up his prophet Zephaniah to proclaim a warning of coming judgment and to encourage repentance.
The Southern Kingdom was complacent in their wicked lives. They not only suffered under wicked kings they also would suffer under the holy judgment of God.
Zephaniah was God’s method in bringing a stern warning of the day of the Lord:
“The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (1:14-15).
He also brought a message of hope, when the nation would be restored.
Chapters 1-2 – Zephaniah, 20 years prior to their captivity, foretells about the looming judgment that was awaiting Judah if they did not turn back to YHWH. He also predicted the desolation of Nineveh the capital city of Assyria in 612 B.C.
“And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness” (2:13).
Chapter 3 – God demonstrates how He gives the sinner what they do not deserve… Mercy. Zephaniah wrote that there would be a day of hope, when the remnant of Israel would come back out of captivity under the YHWH’s protection, to fulfill His promise.
“The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy” the king of Israel, even the LOD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil anymore” (3:15).
Zephaniah lived about 2600 years ago. He might have been a great grandson of King Hezekiah. If so, then Zephaniah would have been a cousin of King Josiah, during whose reign he prophesied.
Zephaniah was a prophet to Judah (the southern part of the Jewish homeland, which includes Jerusalem), during the year before its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Zephaniah was stern and austere, much like the prophet Amos.
He announces the doom of idol worshipers, greedy people, treacherous merchants, faithless prophets, and some of the surrounding nations. The message of Zephaniah was a strong affirmation of the first commandment:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3).
The Book of Zephaniah deals mainly with the Day of Judgment. He also predicted Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, would become a deserted ruin (which it is, today, despite the fact that it was in Zephaniah’s time the capital of the Assyrian Empire).
Zephaniah’s ministry followed Isaiah’s ministry by about 75 years.
Zephaniah means “The Lord has hidden away.” His book is the ninth book of the Minor Prophets.