From a family line who worshiped God, Zephaniah was entrusted a message from God in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. (Zephaniah 1:1)
Zephaniah [Yah has given]
the son of Cushi, [an Ethiopian]
the son of Gedaliah, [Yah has become great]
the son of Amariah, [Yah has promised]
the son of Hezekiah, [Strengthened of Yah]
Josiah (Yoshiyahu) "was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left" (2 Kings 22:1).
We find that in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign he looked to the Scriptures and desired to bring his people back to God and a Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem. Josiah instigated a purge of all things contrary to God. The society in Israel at the time was very like today and was devoted to behaviour and beliefs contrary to God: "mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things" (2 Kings 23:23-24). Did this change the society and the people within? Did the people turn to God truly and faithfully?
Are We Worshiping God or Detestable Things?
God's message tells us that he wasn't happy, indeed he was angry with his people:
The Whole Society Was To Receive The Message
“I will stretch out My hand against Judah,
And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Those Who Were Leading Worship
I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place,
The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests—
Those Who Worshiped in Private
"Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops;
Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord,
But who also swear by Milcom"
Those Who Turned Away from God
"Those who have turned back from following the Lord,
And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him.”
This theme is continued throughout Scriptures. We read in Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
The Day of the LORD - A Warning and a Comfort
Zephaniah 1:7, 8, 14, 18; 2:2, 3 details warnings about the Day of the LORD. This reminds us that God has a plan for the earth and that faith is ultimately an individual thing and has to affect the the heart and mind.
Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
for the day of the Lord is near.
The Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited. (1:7)
‘On the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials
and the king’s sons
and all those clad
in foreign clothes. (1:8)
The great day of the Lord is near –
near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter;
the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. (1:14)
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.’
In the fire of his jealousy
the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live on the earth. (1:18)
before the decree takes effect
and that day passes like windblown chaff,
before the Lord’s fierce anger
comes upon you,
before the day of the Lord’s wrath
comes upon you. (2:2)
Is it all doom and gloom? No. God cares for his people and all those that follow him and will never leave them without hope for those that return to him.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the Lord’s anger. (3:3)
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honour and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,’
says the Lord. (3:20)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour – from violent people you save me. (2 Samuel 22:3)
Drawn from the Bible Class led by P Crossley