"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zephaniah - Through Judgment To Blessing (1:1-3:20) INTRODUCTION 1. In our survey of "The Minor Prophets" we now come to the first of three prophets who preached to Judah alone, following the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel 2. The prophet is Zephaniah, whose name means "Jehovah Hides" a. Concerning the MAN 1) King Hezekiah was his great-great-grandfather - Zeph 1:1 2) This has prompted some to call him "the royal prophet" 3) He was contemporary with Jeremiah, as were Nahum and Habakkuk b. Concerning his MESSAGE 1) Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah a) Josiah ruled from 640-609 B.C. b) He was a good king, a great reformer - 2Ch 34:1-3,29-33;35:1-19 c) Josiah's reforms were short-lived, however, and the nation soon apostasized after his death 2) Zephaniah proclaimed the coming "day of the Lord" - cf. Zeph1:7,14-16
a) So vivid are his descriptions that George Adam Smith wrote: "No hotter book lies in all the Old Testament." b) And yet it ends on an encouraging note concerning the future -- Therefore its overall message is: "Through Judgment To Blessing" [As we get into the book, we note that it can be divided into three sections. The first section encouraged the people to "look within"...] I. GOD'S WRATH COMING UPON JUDAH A. THE LORD IS BRINGING JUDGMENT! 1. The prophet announces a universal and all-consuming judgment - Zeph 1:1-3 2. With special mention and attention given Judah - Zeph 1:4-6 B. THE "DAY OF THE LORD" IS AT HAND! 1. This "day" as it will affect Judah and Jerusalem - Zeph 1:7-13 a. Punishment upon the princes and king's children (note, the king himself is not mentioned), and upon those who are fullof violence and deceit b. There will wailing and mourning in the city of Jerusalem c. The Lord will search out and punish the complacent 2. This great "day" described - Zeph 1:14-18 a. A day that is near and hastens quickly b. A day of devastation, desolation, darkness, and distress c. A day in which silver and gold cannot deliver one from the Lord's wrath C. AND SO - A CALL FOR THE NATION TO REPENT! 1. Before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon them - Zeph 2:1-2 2. To seek the Lord, to seek righteousness, to seek humility - Zeph 2:3 [Having encouraged the people to "look within" and see the need for their own repentance, Zephaniah now prompts the people to "look around"to see...] II. GOD'S WRATH COMING UPON SURROUNDING NATIONS A. GOD'S JUDGMENT ON NATIONS EAST AND WEST... 1. Philistia - Zeph 2:4-7 a. It's cities will be made desolate, the inhabitants destroyed b. The land will be for the remnant of Judah, whose captivity God will restore 2. Moab & Ammon - Zeph 2:8-11 a. They shall be like Sodom and Gomorrah b. Because of their pride, and for their mocking reproach of God's people c. And God will one day be worshipped by people from all nations B. GOD'S JUDGMENT ON NATIONS SOUTH AND NORTH... 1. Ethiopia will by slain by the sword - Zeph 2:12 2. Assyria with its capital Nineveh will become desolate - Zeph2:13-15 C. AND SO - WOE TO JERUSALEM... 1. She has rebelled against the Lord - Zeph 3:1-5 a. She has not obeyed His voice nor drawn near to Him b. Her civil and religious leaders are like lions and wolves, insolent and doing violence to the Law c. The unjust knows no shame; the Lord, however, is righteous and never fails in His justice 2. She has ignored God's judgment upon other nations - Zeph 3:6-7 a. Which should have prompted her to receive God's instruction b. But instead the people corrupted all their deeds [Finally, lest the faithful remnant despair, Zephaniah ends his message with a "look beyond"...] III. THROUGH JUDGMENT TO BLESSING A. WAIT UPON THE LORD... 1. The faithful are told to wait for Lord to carry out His judgment - Zeph 3:8 2. Even as Micah said he would do - cf. Mic 7:7-9 B. GOD WILL RESTORE HIS PEOPLE... 1. After His judgment, God will restore to the peoples (Gentiles?) a "pure language" to worship and serve Him in one accord - Zeph 3:9 2. His dispersed ones (Israel?) shall bring offerings from afar - Zeph 3:10 3. God will remove the proud from His "holy mountain", leaving a meek and humble people who will trust and rest in the Lord- Zeph 3:11-13 C. AND SO - THERE WILL BE JOY IN JERUSALEM... 1. For the Lord will remove their judgments and their enemies- Zeph 3:14-15 2. For the Lord will be in their midst, providing them with gladness, love and singing - Zeph 3:16-17 3. For the Lord has given them great assurance - Zeph 3:18-20 a. God will gather those who sorrow over the reproach of His people b. God will deal with those who afflicted His people c. God will gather those who have been driven out, and give them fame and praise CONCLUSION 1. The message of Zephaniah is a simple one: Judgment is coming, but blessings will follow for those who heed the warning to repent a. It was a message that would later comfort the remnant taken away into Babylonian captivity b. It was a message that perhaps had an initial fulfillment following their restoration under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah c. But I believe the ultimate fulfillment pertains to the age of the Messiah 1) Which began with the establishment of His spiritual kingdom, the church a) Into which God is "gathering" His people - cf. 1Th 2:12 b) In which we enjoy the presence of God and His blessings- cf. He 12:22-24 2) Which will be culminated when Jesus comes again - Re 21:1-22:5 2. The message of the apostles is not really much different today... a. The "day of the Lord" (of which Zephaniah's "day" was a type) is coming - 2Pe 3:7-10 b. God's people (i.e., the church) are admonished to remain faithful- 2Pe 3:11-14 Are we heeding that message? For those willing to listen, here is what else Peter had to say... "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Ac 3:19-21) Be converted through your obedience to the gospel of Christ (cf. Mk 16: 15-16; Ac 2:38), and you too can "look beyond" the coming judgment for the blessings to follow!