“Introduction to the Book of Zephaniah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Zephaniah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Zephaniah prophesied of “the day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:7, 8, 14, 18; 2:2, 3), or the Lord’s impending judgment upon Judah and other nations (see Bible Dictionary, “Zephaniah”). Zephaniah explained that on this day God would punish the proud and mighty and reward the righteous. Zephaniah pleaded, “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth … ; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). By studying the book of Zephaniah, students can learn that they do not need to follow the sinful customs of the societies in which they live and that they can seek the Lord regardless of what others around them choose to do.
Studying the book of Zephaniah can also help students prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which is also referred to as “the day of the Lord.” Students can learn that if they prepare for the Second Coming by repenting of their sins and turning to Jesus Christ, they can obtain peace in this life and joyfully look forward to the Second Coming.
The book is attributed to a prophet named Zephaniah, who prophesied in Judah during the seventh century B.C. (see Bible Dictionary, “Zephaniah”). Zephaniah may have been a contemporary of other Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah and Nahum and the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi (see Bible Chronology). Zephaniah’s name means “the Lord hides” (Bible Dictionary, “Zephaniah”).
Zephaniah ministered in Judah during the reign of King Josiah, which lasted from about 639 to 608 B.C. (see Zephaniah 1:1; Bible Dictionary, “Zephaniah”). However, we do not know when and where the prophecies were recorded.
Like many ancient prophecies, the words of Zephaniah can apply to both his day and the future. At the time Zephaniah was prophesying, a foreign army was threatening to destroy Judah. This threatened destruction can be compared to the destruction of the wicked that will occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the blessings the Lord promised to the righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem can foreshadow the blessings the righteous will receive at the Second Coming (see Zephaniah 3:12–20).
Zephaniah 1 Zephaniah prophesies that God will destroy the people of Judah if they do not repent.
Zephaniah 2 Zephaniah encourages Judah and the meek people of the earth to seek righteousness. He also warns some of Judah’s antagonistic neighbors of God’s judgments that will come upon them.
Zephaniah 3 Zephaniah prophesies of the wickedness of Jerusalem’s leaders and the blessings that the humble inhabitants of Jerusalem will receive after the Lord removes the proud from their city. Zephaniah explains that the Lord will pour out judgment on all nations. Zephaniah reveals that the Lord will give His people a pure language, renew His relationship with them, and reign in the midst of Zion.