Time: 635 – 615 BC.
Summary: Zephaniah prophesied during King Josiah's reign. He
was responsible for a great religious reform. This reform followed the wicked
reigns of Manasseh and Amon, who led the nation into various forms of idolatry.
Zephaniah pronounces inescapable judgments against Jerusalem for their sins and
exhorts national repentance. He further speaks of the "day of the Lord" when God
will intervene to judge sin.
"Zephaniah can hardly be considered great as a poet. He does
not rank with Isaiah, nor even with Hosea in this particular... He had an
imperative message to deliver and proceeded in the most direct and forceful way
to discharge his responsibility. What he lacked in grace and charm, he in some
measure atoned for by the vigour and clarity of his speech. He realised the
approaching terror so keenly that he was able to present it vividly and
convincingly to his hearers. No prophet has made the picture of the day of
Yahweh more real" (JMP Smith).
Key verse: "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who
do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be
sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger" (Zep 2:3).
1. God's judgments upon Israel: Zep 1:1 -- 2:3
a) Announcement of total judgment: Zep 1:1–3
b) Judgment on idolaters in Judah: Zep 1:4–9
c) Wailing through Jerusalem: Zep 1:10–13
d) The inescapable day of the Lord's wrath: Zep 1:14–18;
2. God's judgments on the nations: Zep 2:1-15
a) Judgment on Philistia: Zep 2:4–7
b) Judgment on Moab and Ammon: Zep 2:8–11
c) Judgment on Cush: Zep 2:12
d) Judgment on Assyria: 2:13–15
3. God's future kingdom, after His judgments are finished: Zep
- Judgment on Jerusalem: Zep 3:1–5
- Jerusalem's refusal to repent:
- The nations purified, the remnant restored, Jerusalem
purged: Zep 3:9–13
- Rejoicing in the city: Zep 3:14–17
nation restored: Zep 3:18–20
See Lesson, Zeph, summary book of prophecy