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Zephaniah

Date: 621 BC

Contents

Zephaniah is the first of a number of prophets sent by God to the kingdom of Judah after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. The prophets Isaiah and Micha have been active before the fall before the fall of Sameria, the capital of Israel. They died before Zephaniah acts as prophet. After this prophet come Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel, with a special message for Judah. They do not heed the warnings of God. The historical developments are as follows: After the death of King Hezekiah, his son Manasseh comes to the throne in Judah. He was a bad king and abandons his father's policy. Manasseh allows corruption on a large scale. Pagan religious practices are returning at his hands, such as:

  • Baal worship.

  • Astrology,

  • Worship of ghosts,

  • Child sacrifices. 

King Manasseh persecutes the prophets of God and suppresses the religion of God. Manasseh's son is as bad as his father. Josiah, his grandson, tries to reverse these developments. In 621 BC, Josiah introduces major reforms, thanks to Zephaniah's warnings.

Theological Themes

The prophet emphasizes the renunciation of the evil that grows and prospers in the land of Judah. The message is: If Judah does not repent, it perishes. He clarifies the subject of the Day of the Lord. Judah thinks that day would bring them triumph in the sight of their enemies. The prophet Zephaniah prophesies that they will be judged first and then their enemies. Zephaniah closes with the promise of restoration (3:9-20). He not only had an eye for the return to the land, but also for the salvation of the whole earth in the future.

Main features

1. General prophecy about the Day of the Lord (1:1-2:3),
2. Judgment on individual nations (2:4-3:8),
3. The Promise of Salvation (3:9-20).