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Zephaniah Survey #1


Zephaniah Survey

Zephaniah chapter 1

Who was Zephaniah? 1v1  

Zephaniah was a member of the extended royal family of Judah, the great great grandson of King Hezekiah. (That made him a distant relative of King Josiah, the reigning king.   The book of Zephaniah is easily divided, – there’s just two sections over the three chapters, and they are easily distinguished: Law and Gospel.


The Scales of Justice



Section A – THE LAW.

Zephaniah begins with a warning to Judah about the coming judgement that God will enact upon them for their idolatrous ways.   Zephaniah describes THE DAY OF THE LORD with vivid, and evocative language:-


Its Complete Efficiency. V2 “I will utterly consume everything From the face of the land,” Says the Lord;  

God will ‘utterly consume’ everything. Think of the great flood in the days of Noah, when the whole earth was destroyed, along with everything in it. Genesis 10:20  That is the level of desolation that will occur on the great ‘Day of the Lord’ that Zephaniah foresees. There’s a further explanation in v3.  


2 Its Cleansing Effect. v4b.    

God will cut off every trace of false religion!  There will be no idolatry in heaven. Look at how idolatry is explained here. 

    1. Idolatrous religion. Expanded in v5-6. Religious people who claim to worship God, but at the same time are willing to compromise with the worship of false Gods.  God, YHWH demands that his people worship no other god.  He alone is to be worshipped and no-one else.  
    2. Pagan religion. V5   False religion. Zephaniah gives an example – those who worship the stars etc. Horoscopes. This paganism goes right into the royal house, something that Zephaniah must have been acutely aware of .  Zeph 1:8-9   
      1. Wearing pagan apparel. And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. The royal princes were dressing like the religions of the world! 
      2. Adopting pagan superstitions. v9   On first reading I thought this was about people who burgle other people’s houses, but I discovered that it’s not.  It is actually about an ancient pagan belief, a superstition, that some pagan god dwells on the doorstep of every home, and we must therefore not anger that deity by stepping on his territory.  1 Samuel 5:4-5   “What nonsense,” you will say!
      3. Obeying pagan deities.  Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.  The ‘masters’ here are their pagan god, the thing that they worship instead of God.  And what will satisfy those deities, which essentially are the god of self, is theft and lying – dishonest gain.

So, what pollutes the earth?  False religion and all its consequences, sin, condemnation, destruction – On the great Day of the Lord there will be a cleansing, all the idolatry and false religion will be swept away under the wrath of God.


3 Its Clinical Exploration. v10.   

No-one can escape from the searching spirit of God on that day.  

  • He knows WHO you are!  v7   There’s going to be a judgement day – and the guest list is already drawn up!  God knows each one who will be there on that great day!  Look at the interesting language in 1:7,     
  • He knows WHERE you are! There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. – God knows where you are.   v 12  The imagery is very vivid, this is an active searching – hunting down offenders.  
  • He knows WHAT you are!  V12   He can look right into the hearts of men and see their complacency about eternity.  Surely complacency is one of the greatest dangers facing the church.  In Judah, there was complacency about lifestyle and ethics, believing that God has chosen Jerusalem and made promises – that they seem to think are unconditional! cf Micah 3:11  

There is no escape, except to run to Christ and seek his mercy and forgiveness.


4 Its Contrasting Evenhandedness. v18.  

How do you achieve justice? In Israel whoever has the most money gets their own way!  Isaiah 1:23.  Amos 5:12   Micah 7:3   This was a serious breach of God’s law.  Exodus 23:8   Deuteronomy  

You CAN’T BRIBE GOD.  On the Day of the Lord the man who has bought influence with his money, will be shocked to find that the power and influence that his money has bought in this world will be stripped away, and will be worthless before the inscrutable and penetrating justice of God.


5 Its Comprehensive Extent. Chapter 2

God treats all men the same. Acts 10:33-34  The ‘Day of the Lord’ is not just for Jerusalem and Judah though. It’s for all the nations of the world, and in Chapter 2:4ff Zephaniah lists the nations around Israel, and describes the destruction that will befall them on that day.  Just one example – Assyria.  2:13-15.  What a proud people the Assyrians were!  They had conquered the world. They had a magnificent city. They dwelt securely. V15. They  were so arrogant that they said, “I am it, and there is none besides me.”  

Pride always comes before a fall. She has become a desolation. The Day of the Lord has come. 

So Zephaniah thunders out the Law.  What a stern message!  Yet before he leaves this sledgehammer down, Zephaniah gives us hope, and a hint of what’s going to come in the second part of his book. Chapter 2:1  ff

© BobMcEvoy  July 2019


For discussion

Does it matter how a Christian DRESSES?  

Can a Christian dress like a punk rocker, or a motor cycle rocker, like a ‘hells angel’ or like a ‘my little pony?’ 




Does it Matter how a Christian LOOKS?

Should a Christian dye his/her hair?  What’s implied in Proverbs 16:31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness?  Is how we look part of our testimonies?  Must a Christian always look boring and dowdy?




Does it matter how a Christian ACTS?

Can you think of any superstitions that modern Christian get involved in?   



What are the dangers of Christian complacency in the modern church?



If a Christian believes that ‘God is on our side’ does that mean he/she can live as they like?




Does it matter how a Christian SPENDS?

How can Christians misuse the money that God has given them to influence in a church?



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