One conservative Lutheran commentator referenced Zephaniah as the Terminator. That’s not technically fair – Zephaniah was simply the messenger. And from studying the whole counsel of God, I don’t think that is a fair assessment of our God of free and faithful grace either. A brief description of the outline of the book could be this. “Woe! to Wow!”
Zephaniah was the great-grandson of Hezekiah. This would make him a contemporary of the young king Josiah who took the throne at the tender age of 8 years old. Josiah is responsible for a complete reformation of the nation of Israel. The exact impact of the prophet’s work is unknown, but from the results it would make sense to think Zephaniah and his prophesies had an impact on the young king.
The focus on the end of the world gives the us the Woe portion of the book. I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth, declares the Lord. (Zeph 1:2) There is little left to the imagination with such sweeping language. Everything will be completely destroyed. Ever think that maybe you could make a deal with God to avoid the coming destruction? Think again. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. (Zeph 1:18a)
This is a healthy reminder as our nation slowly turns away from the Bible. I have met more than a few Christians who treat what God says like a K&W. “I’ll take the Salisbury steak, but hold the mashed potatoes.”
That simply isn’t how our God works. No where does he ask for our input. This is where the message of the Zephaniah shifts from “Woe to Wow!” Knowing that God will do what he wants on the Last Day, why does he delight to show mercy to his people? Indeed, the Christian will be able to shout for joy! Sing, O Daughter of Zion, shout aloud, O Israel! … The Lord has taken away your punishment. (Zeph 3:14a,15a)
Want to hear more? Watch this week’s Bible class taken from our series Minor Prophets Major Messages: Zephaniah.
Please click HERE to find the Bible class slides.