Sunday, March 26, 2017

Block 60: Zephaniah

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“For the day of the Lord is at hand.” Zephaniah 1:7
Unlike most of the other minor prophets, we know something about Zephaniah.  In the opening statement of his book, Zephaniah clearly proclaims his royal lineage, listing his ancestry all the way back to good king Hezekiah.  Zephaniah’s status would have added credibility to his prophecies during King Josiah’s reign.  The name Zephaniah means “defended by God.”  It is likely that Zephaniah had to hide from evil King Manasseh and reappeared during the reign of good King Josiah.
The twelve minor prophets are divided into two groups: 9 who prophesied before the fall of Jerusalem, and 3 who prophesied during and after the return to the Promised Land.  Zephaniah is sometimes considered unoriginal.  He had nothing new to say.  His writing seem to sum up the previous 8 minor prophets.  Judah was a mess.  The people had built their own places of worship and fervently worshiped false idols.  They had even begun to desecrate the temple.  Zephaniah admonished the Judeans and prophesied that “the day of the Lord” drew near and he predicted the impending destruction of Judah, its neighbors and eventually the whole earth.  In fact, Zephaniah used the phrase “day of the Lord” more often than any other book of the Old Testament.  I imagine his prophecies were the Old Testament version of the childish warning, “Now you’ve done it!  Now you’re really going to get it!”  Like the first 8 minor prophets, Zephaniah held great hope that God would bless the righteous and would  deliver those who repent and trust in Him.  Many of the prophecies in Zephaniah’s final words (Zephaniah 3:14-20) have not yet been realized, leading us to believe that these may be messianic prophecies foretelling the Second Coming.  So maybe Zephaniah was a little more original than he was given credit for.
Like the Judeans, we make a mockery of the Church every time we openly sin.  We must not be two-faced in our faith.  But for the times when we have failed in our faith, there is hope.  Zephaniah reminds us that when we truly repent, God is always a God of HOPE.


The prophet Zephaniah’s first two chapters prophecies the judgment and destruction of Judah, but the third chapter promises hope  for those who wait patiently for the Lord.  I chose the Bright Hopes block to represent Zephaniah’s message of hope.

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