Zephaniah 1: Judgment and the Day of the Lord

(18 verses, 2:58 to read)


What I am about to READ

  • Since today begins the short trek through Zephaniah, this section will be primarily devoted to introducing you to this minor prophet.
  • Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of Josiah (c. 640 B.C.-609 B.C.), one of the pious kings of Judah–the last pious king, in fact. This places Zephaniah in Judah before the Babylonian captivity (starting c. 597 B.C.) and the fall of Jerusalem (c. 587 B.C.).
  • Zephaniah’s description of the poor spiritual condition in Israel suggests that his preaching began before Josiah’s reforms began to take shape (c. 628-627 B.C.) or before the Reformation really began in earnest after the discovery of the Book of the Law (c. 622-621 B.C.). For more on this, see II Kings 22 and read this Rightly Divided post.
  • Zephaniah gives us a glimpse into the religious life of Judah after the period of darkness under Kings Manasseh (c. 696 B.C.-642 B.C.) and Amnon (c. 642 B.C.-640 B.C.). Despite Josiah’s best efforts, Josiah is not able to completely stem the idolatry of Judah during his reign. All this was to fulfill what God had spoken to King Hezekiah before his death (c. 686 B.C.).
  • Zephaniah was a contemporary of Habakkuk and Jeremiah. His name means “The LORD protects.”
  • Although Zephaniah is largely a prophet who warns of God’s coming wrath on Judah and and the surrounding nations, Zephaniah communicates God’s promise to preserve a remnant. This, of course, is a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to send the Christ from his line.


  • Zephaniah 1 describes God’s judgment over all the earth (1:1-1:3), which gives way to a specific condemnation of Judah (1:4-1:6). He emphasizes the nearness of God’s coming judgment (1:7-1:14), which is then described in some detail (1:15-1:18).


  • The wrath of God portrayed in this picture is a good antidote to those who picture God as a gentle, grandfatherly type who chuckles as He turns a blind eye to our sins. Zephaniah emphasizes the curse God threatened when giving the law at Sinai: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6). Indeed, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
  • Because of the seeming delay of God’s judgment, many begin to doubt God’s threats of punishment. However, we should not view this a license to sin, but we should instead see this as an opportunity to continue in our life of repentance and faith in a time of God’s mercy. Unfortunately, the Judeans continued in their wickedness after the untimely death of King Josiah until the fall of Jerusalem.


  • Prayer: Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word. Curb those who feign by craft and sword would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son and bring to naught all He hath done. Amen.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN

Learn more about Trinity:
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