The Book of Zephaniah dates from the reign of King Josiah of Judah.
Zephaniah’s opening prophecy is dark and violent, describing God’s plans for the complete and total destruction of the Kingdom of Judah--condemning those who turned to idolatry and disparaging those who worship wealth. At the same time, Zephaniah made clear that all people would be punished, rich and poor, for the entire nation had been corrupted.
Zephaniah explained that beyond the blatant idol worship, God was angered by the agnosticism in the hearts of the people: “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men who are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil” (1:12).
After calling upon the Judeans to repent, Zephaniah predicted that the nations that have mocked and attacked the Children of Israel would themselves be destroyed.
The third and final chapter of Zephaniah begins with a reiteration of the corruption and destruction of Jerusalem, but with the purpose of leading to absolute redemption. (“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” - 3:9 “At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes.” - 3:20)
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