Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read the entire book. Orientation Zephaniah is book #36 of 39 in the Old Testament, and the 9th book of the Minor Prophets. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Zephaniah is a prophet who predicts the destruction of Judah and the surrounding nations. The book is prophecy, written as a poem. The northern Jewish nation of Israel has already fallen to Assyria, because of its sin and idolatry. Zephaniah sensed the same would soon happen to the southern nation, Judah.
God will judge the entire earth due to the sins of man (1:2). Judah, in particular, is targeted because of its worship of Baal and nature gods, and its government is corrupt (1: 4-18). The day of the Lord is coming, bringing terror, desolation, and distress. God appeals to the people one last time to repent to avoid the coming destruction (2:1-3).
Zephaniah then predicts judgment on the surrounding nations: Philistia (W), Moab and Ammon (E), Ethiopia (S), and Assyria (N) (2: 14-15).
Then Zephaniah focuses on blessing and cleansing. The people will call on God (3:9, 10). The remnant of Israel will be restored (3:11-20). They will rejoice in their reunion with God.
Discussion points While some of the previous prophets have been (and are still) unknown, Zephaniah comes from a clearly documented royal line (1:1). What social circle would he have been in? Note that he follows two bad kings (Manassah and Amon) and then the reformer Josiah. Is he riding the wave of credibility?
How close does Zephaniah say they are to the coming of the great day of the Lord? Are there clues to tell? Would the people have looked forward to it, or dreaded it?
Connections Isaiah 24 - 26 has the same theme: the destruction of life, the destruction of Judah, and the restoration of the surviving nation.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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