I wrote a super quick summary of Zephaniah a few years back. This time, however, I’m going in more depth.
Zephaniah is one of the Minor Prophets. Not minor because he’s less important or because he’s not a “professional,” but because his writing is so short. In only three chapters, Zephaniah covers a lot of ground, however. The book can primarily be thought of in terms of judgment decrees and restoration decrees.
First, let’s look at who Zephaniah was. We don’t know a ton about him, except that he came through a line of royalty. His great-great grandfather was King Hezekiah. God gave Zephaniah a direct message. And that message came at the time King Josiah was ruling in Judah. That’s about all we know. Oh, and he was obedient to speak and write the message that he was given. That’s important.
Now, let’s look at what God’s message was. It’s honestly not an easy one to digest. That is, it’s not a health and wealth prosperity message. It’s not even a “You all need Jesus” message because Jesus hadn’t come on the scene yet. The message was actually quite heavy. It was alarming, a difficult pill to swallow. Here’s how it started:
“I’m going to make a clean sweep of the earth, a thorough housecleaning.”
God will start His judgment in Judah, and then go outward. He says,
I’ll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy, amusing themselves and taking it easy, Who think, ‘God doesn’t do anything, good or bad. He isn’t involved, so neither are we.’ But just wait. They’ll lose everything they have, money and house and land. They’ll build a house and never move in. They’ll plant vineyards and never taste the wine.
See what I mean when I say it’s a heavy, alarming message.
Here’s the ending to the chapter:
I’ll make things so bad they won’t know what hit them. They’ll walk around groping like the blind. They’ve sinned against God! Their blood will be poured out like old dishwater, their guts shoveled into slop buckets. Don’t plan on buying your way out. Your money is worthless for this. This is the Day of God’s Judgment-my wrath!
Obviously, this is poetry and hyperbole. Obviously, this is a proclamation against Judah at a particular point in history. But I do believe there’s a big takeaway for us, today in the 21st century. Here’s how I would summarize it:
Don’t make God mad.
Ready for chapter 2 tomorrow?