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Old Testament Overview - Zephaniah

The Day of the Lord, a judgment that purifies

Zephaniah's lineage (1:1)  ("The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:"   Zephaniah was in the royal line of Hezekiah and Josiah.  He was a prophet from the royal family, in contrast with Amos who was a shepherd and a farmer.)

The Day of the Lord (1:2-3:8)  (The Day of the Lord is a time when God will no longer delay His judgment for the sins of the world—we will see His righteous anger. See Zeph 1:7-8, 14, 18, 2:2-3 and especially 1:14-18 See also Rom. 2:4-11(1) Judgment on the world (1:2-3)  (Once, at the time of the Flood, the world had reached such a state of wickedness and moral filth that God found it necessary to cleanse the earth of sin so that we could start over with a clean slate.  See Gen. 6:5-7  Once again, in the future, it will be necessary for God to totally purify the world.)  (Notice, that in these verses and Gen. 6:5-7 that the cleansings include even a cleansing of animal life.  (2) Judgment against Judah (1:4-2:3 See especially 1:4, 10-12, 2:1)  (Because Judah has persisted in seeking after false gods rather than after God.  They think that they are getting by with it—for up to that time God had done nothing. See 1:12  But, God's judgment is about to come upon them. 1:4-13)  (The judgment described in these verses is undoubtedly the conquering invasion of the Babylonians.)  (This Day is coming because their lives have become saturated with the worship of pagan gods. 1:4-9)  (This total infestation of idolatry came from Manasseh's evil heart, as described in II Kings 21:1-9) See Josiah's response to Manasseh's sins. II Chron. 34:3-7  But Josiah's reforms were not enough—for Manasseh's sins were still in the people's hearts.  Josiah's reforms did not reach the people's hearts.)  (The Day of judgment will result in the total overthrow of Jerusalem. 1:10-13)  (1:10-11 describe the progress of the conquerors as they take over every prominent portion of Jerusalem.)  (At this time, God will search out and eradicate the wickedness in every corner of Jerusalem, in the same way a man searches through every nook and cranny of his house with a lamp while he is searching for something important to him. 1:12)  (the wine "left on its dregs" or "thickening their lees" is the hard crust that forms "on the surface of fermenting liquors when they are not disturbed over a period of time." Feinburg, The Minor Prophets.)  (It describes a hard crust that had formed over Judah because God had done nothing to disturb their wicked ways.)  (This great Day of the Lord will be a day of anguish, ruin, gloom, and darkness; and at that time, nothing will be able to save them. 1:14-18)  (When this judgment comes, God's justice will consume them and nothing they say or do will be able to change it.)  (Before that Day comes, all you humble in the land gather together and seek the Lord while you still can, and perhaps God will shelter you. 2:1-3)  (They must grab the opportunity to seek God's mercy while there is still time or the opportunity will pass away quickly like chaff blown away by the wind. 2:2)  (Notice the "before"s in 2:1-2 and the "seek"s in 2:3.  They need to "seek" God "before" it is too late!)  (And perhaps God will shelter or hide them from His wrath.  Zephaniah's name means "he whom the Lord hides."  Zephaniah desires that there will be more beside him who will be hidden from God's anger.)  (3) Judgment on the nations (2:4-7)  (the nation to the west—Philistia, the nations to the east—Moab and Ammon, the nation to the south—Ethiopia, and the nation to the north—Assyria)  (God's judgment on Philistia 2:4-7)  (The time when they will be attacked will be at midday—a time when the people were usually napping. See 2:4  This may simply be a figurative way of saying that they will be attacked when they least expect it.)  (God's judgment against Moab and Ammon 2:8-11)  (The origin of these two nations is given in Gen. 19:30-38.  They came from the incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters.)  (Here, Zephaniah prophesies that they will be destroyed in the same way as Sodom and Gomorrah of Lot's day. 2:9 Compare 2:11 and Isa. 2:2; Mic. 4:1-2; Zech. 8:22-23, 14:16)  (God's judgment against Cush 2:12)  (Modern-day Ethiopia)  (God's judgment against Assyria 2:13-15)  (Who made a claim that only God could make: ". . . She said to herself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.' . . . "  She will be reduced to being a desert. Compare 2:14-15 and Isa. 34:11  For a more detailed description of God's judgment on Assyria, see the book of Nahum.  (4) The final judgment day on Jerusalem and the nations (3:1-4)  (Jerusalem is totally hardened to God. 3:1-4)  (Zephaniah brings four charges against Jerusalem in 3:2: 1. "She obeys no one."  2. "She accepts no correction."  3. "She does not trust the Lord."  4. "She does not draw near to God."  Certainly, this is a good description of what hardness is, whether it be in an individual or a nation.)  (Also, Jerusalem's leaders are the complete opposite of what they should be—their shepherds are eating the flock rather than watching over them. 3:3; their prophets are arrogant instead of being humble servants of God, 3:4a; and their priests are desecrating the sanctuary rather than watching over it to keep it pure. 3:4b)  (In contrast, the God of Jerusalem is totally righteous and just in all that He does. 3:5)  (God's people are doing the complete opposite of what He is doing.  Notice the contrast in 3:1-5 between the unrighteousness of God's people and the righteousness of God) ("The morning is the time in the East for the administering of justice, so every morning the Lord brings justice to light." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets.)  (Jerusalem did not learn from God's judgment on the nations. 3:6-7)  (When God's people saw how He judged the nations for their sins, it should have caused them to repent of their sins; but, they rejected His warnings.)  (Because the nations and Jerusalem are totally corrupt, God has prepared a day when he will assemble all of the nations to Jerusalem where He will pour out His wrath on them and the whole world. 3:8 See Zech. 14:2; Joel 3:1-3, 12-16)
The final purified and restored Jerusalem (3:9-20)  (1) Jerusalem will be purified from idolatry, pride, lies, and fear. (3:9-13) Compare 3:10 with Isa. 66:18-22  (2) Rejoice Jerusalem, for God has removed your punishment and is now with you. (3:14-15)  (Their fear will be transformed into singing.)  (Does 3:14-15 have a message for us Christians?)  (3) At this time, God will deal out justice to Israel's oppressors and bless Israel. (3:18-20)  (their sorrow, slavery, and shame will be replaced with joy, freedom, prosperity, and honor.)  (J. Sidlow Baxter gives this theme to this book: "Through judgment to blessing."
Key Verses:  1:14-18, 2:3, 3:8-9, 11-13, 20
Key Teachings:  The Day of the Lord is described. (1:14-18)  A plea to them to humble themselves and seek God's mercy. (2:1-3)  The Day of the Lord is God's judgment and it leads to the humble being blessed. (3:18-20)

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi