Summary: In this section of Zephaniah chapter2. He preaches the Word of the Lord preaching a Judgement, to the earth the surrounding nations and upon Judah which is tempered with a a gracious offer and hope for a remnant
Introduction & Background
God speaks through the Prophet Zephaniah, little is known of him apart from his name and pedigree. Zephaniah means - ‘Yaweh has hidden/protected’ this name given could indicate the families piety as they trusted in God during the godless reign of Manasseh. In regard to Zephaniahs pedigree the genealogy 1:1 Indicates Zephaniah is a descendant of Hezekiah the pious king before two wicked kings assumed the throne.
(1) He prophesised during the reign of Josiah (640-602 BC) who was 8 years old when he began his reign and reigned for 31 years, he was a righteous king and brought much reforms to Judah ( 2Kings; 22:1-23; 2 Chr 34:1-35; Jer 1:2). But even his righteous actions were not able to revert Gods judgement upon Judah and its officials and inhabitants.
At this point in history the Northern kingdom is already exiled 722BC. So when Israel is mentioned in this book it refers (2:9, 3:13-15) to the remaining southern Kingdom of Israel which is Judah and its capital Jerusalem (1:4).
The prevailing theme of Zephaniah, his prophetic message ( 610/15BC) is of coming judgement,
1. The Prophet proclaims Judgement is coming; The day of the Lord is at hand. ( Zeph: 1:7 WARNING).
This prophecy of judgment was fulfilled approx 25 /30 years later the wicked were swept away, when the Babylonian forces took Judah into captivity in 586 BC also the surrounding nations were crushed. Exactly what Zephaniah prophesised ( 610 - 615BC) all actually happened, to the letter.
( v1 The genuine Word of the Lord ) Judgement is the authentic Word from the living God and not the Word from the false teacher/preachers/Pastors/Priests/Vicars who preach and tolerance. . Both contemporary prophets Habakkuk (1:6) and Jeremiah (5:14-15) like Zephaniah both prophesised this coming judgment to Judah that if they do not humble repent, turn back to Gods covenant then forthcoming judgement is at hand.
Our Response is like a TWO SIDED COIN Side 1 Those who continue to sin and rebel against God judgement is coming as it came to Judah and the surrounding nations (1:2–18)
Chapter 1. Zephaniah prophesised Judgement was coming to the earth (2-3) to the nations (2:4-15); even against Gods own people to Judah and its inhabitants of Jerusalem (4) , towards its officials and priests who were still involved in Idolatry of Baal worship and other idolatry practices of false worship (4-5) , those who have turned away and no longer seek the Lord (6) On that day every mouth will be silenced (7) judgement will fall upon the wicked who will be consecrated for sacrifice (7). All Kings, the lofty, all who practice injustice, violence and fraud will be brought low ; Specific neighbourhoods in Jerusalem wailing will be heard (10-11) , businesses will cease, homes and goods plundered, their labours in the vineyards will be futile (13), the complacent in Jerusalem will be punished (12).
You can almost experience judgement, the heaviness coming through the pages in these verses (V14-16) The clouds are now thickening with gloom over Judah and Jerusalem, reeling from its effects, it tastes bitter, a day of wrath, distress and anguish, a day when Jerusalem lies in ruins, a day of darkness and gloom ( imagine the sight, the stench, the atmosphere of such a battlefield, the bodies, the decay, the death).
Not even the most secure places in Jerusalem are safe the day of the Lord’s righteous wrath. All humanity will be brought to judgement (1:17-18) In chapter two he becomes specific with neighbouring nations are not immune from this judgement to come (4-5) Philistines (8-11) Moab and Ammom (2:12) Cush (13-15) Assyria All will come under the Judgement of God, through the Babylonians.
Note to self - Judgement is coming to our earth to all of humanity - In the form of aggressive enemies ( consider the rise of militant Islam) but more importantly the day of the Lord Himself, the Son of Man appearing on the clouds with all his holy army of God.
This is still the prophetic Word from the lord (1) a prophecy still to be fulfilled. We must take note, and make sure we are right with God that we have turned from our own wicked ways and called upon the name of the Lord.
Warning Application - The danger for us is that we simply compartmentalise this as in a place of history for a time and for a certain group of people, as a historical event, informative words of historical significance for the mind, good historical teaching material, but applicable for us today; But we would be in grave danger if we did just that and carried on regardless, because this is a prophetic word from the Lord to Israel, to the nations and to his Church, although this prophecy fulfilled in part many OT prophecies still have a future fulfilment.