The Book of Zephaniah
Zephaniah gives more of his background than do the other prophets. In V-1 he says he is the great-great-Grandson of King Hezekiah. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, and he was therefore a contemporary with Jeremiah. He was a prophet of Judah. Jowl and Zephaniah are the prophets of judgment against Judah-yet both tell of a glorious deliverance.
The Central Message:
From desolation to deliverance.
The Structure of the Book:
Wrath Coming on Judah- Chapters 1:1-2:3
Wrath on Nations- Chapters 2:4-3:8
Wrath on Healing- Chapters 3:9-20
Wrath Coming on Judah: 1:1-2:3
Everything in this section refers to the judgment that is coming on Judah in the form of the captivity by Babylon. Why all the wrath described in these verses? Verse 17 gives the answer- ‘Because they have sinned against the Lord.” This section closes with an appeal for repentance and a word of encouragement to the small remnant.
Wrath on Nations: 2:4-3:8
The prophet looks away from Judah and Jerusalem to the surrounding nations. First to the west, Philistia and the Philistines (2:4-7). Then he turns east to Moab and Assyria (2:8-11). Then south to Ethiopia (2:12). Then north to Nineveh and Assyria (2:13-15). He concludes by turning to Jerusalem again to indicate that if God so smites the surrounding nations with judgment, then certainly He will smite the people of Judah who have had the privileges above all others (note 3:6).
From Wrath to Healing: 3:9-20
Here the prophet is not looking within at Jerusalem and Judah, nor looking around at the surrounding nations, he is looking beyond to a time of healing and blessing. The coming Messianic Kingdom is to embrace all nations and the covenant people are to be the center of that kingdom. Zephaniah says this in the concluding verses (3:11-20). All afflictions are to be over and Israel is to be made “a praise among all the people of the earth” (V-20).