The Day of the Lord Judgment as Proclaimed by the Prophet Zephaniah

Introduction

I. Writer

Zephaniah’s name means Jehovah hides or Jehovah protects. For this reason, some have conjectured that he was born in the latter part of Manasseh’s reign (686–642 B.C.; cp. 2 Ki. 21:16). He had social standing in the courts of Judah, being the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah (1:1). He ministered during the reign of King Josiah, a godly ruler and relative of the prophet. Most likely he was from Jerusalem, although that is not stated. The prophet’s occupation is unknown.

II. Recipients

Zephaniah wrote to Judah and Jerusalem (1:4).

III. Background

At eight years of age, Josiah (640–609 B.C.) succeeded his father as ruler in Judah. He began to seek the Lord at the age of 16 (2 Chr. 34:3) and brought about many moral and religious reforms at the age of 20 (2 Chr. 34:3–7). While cleansing the Temple, a copy of the Law was found and read to the king, who then had it read to the people. Josiah later tried to defeat Pharaoh-Neco of Egypt at Megiddo but was unsuccessful and was killed in the battle (2 Chr. 35:20–25).

IV. Date

Zephaniah prophesied just before or during the reign of Josiah (640–609 B.C.) and was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. Since he did not mention the reforms of Josiah (although some commentators believe he did indirectly), but did prophesy Nineveh’s destruction (612 B.C.), many believe his writings should be dated before 622 B.C., probably between 630 and 625 B.C.

V. Theme

The Day of the Lᴏʀᴅ

VI. Key Words

“Day of the Lᴏʀᴅ,” “that day,” “the day” (20 times); “desolation” (7 times); “remnant” (4 times).

VII. Key Verses

1:7; 3:2, 15

Outline

I. Declaration Of Judgment (1:1–6)

  1. Word to Judah (1:1)
  2. Wrath of Jehovah (1:2–3)
  3. Wickedness of Judah (1:4–6)

II. Day Of Judgment (1:7–3:8)

  1. Need for Judgment (1:7–13)
  2. Nearness of Judgment (1:14–2:3)
  3. Nations Judged (2:4–15)
  4. Nature of Judah (3:1–8)

III. Deliverance After Judgment (3:9–20)

  1. Renewed Speech (3:9)
  2. Reinstituting Sacrifices (3:10)
  3. Removal of Shame (3:11)
  4. Reestablishing the Submissive (3:12)
  5. Redemption of Sinners (3:13)
  6. Rejoicing in Song (3:14)
  7. Returning Savior (3:15)
  8. Remnant is Secure (3:16)
  9. Regathering the Sorrowful (3:17)
  10. Retrieving the Scattered (3:18)
  11. Restoration Summary (3:20)

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