Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zephaniah Read-through

Today we look into Zephaniah.

The prophet Zephaniah is possibly a prophet from royal lineage, namely from King Hezekiah.  His career was during the reign of Josiah, King of Judah, and his reforms; BC 640-609.  It is debated at what point of Josiah's reign that Zephaniah prophesied, mainly because much of Judah was still wayward even after Josiah's reforms.  So the period of Josiah's reforms do not conclusively indicate the career of Zephaniah.  As for the people of God, Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had already been exiled in BC 722, and now two generations later Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is unwilling to turn back to the Covenant of the Lord.  Thus, in the face of Josiah's attempts to reform the worship of Judah, an explicit example of failure by their Northern brethren and their punishment, and the Lord declaring He would "perhaps" forgive their waywardness if they repent and return to the covenant (2:1-3), Judah is still chooses to be wayward.  This is the difficult situation to which Zephaniah is speaking. 

Main Themes:

1) "The day of the Lord" (1:7ff):  The Lord on this day will judge fairly His people and the nations indiscriminately.  Those who sin against Him will be punished and He will bless those who repent and embrace His covenant (3:11-20).

2)  The Lord opposes those who oppress and oppose His people (2:1-15), a theme that continues to appear due to the lineage of David.  

3)  In the face of Judah's waywardness, the Lord still declares He has a plan beyond the present situation.  The present punishment of wayward Judah and the nations will be how the faithful remnant will be revealed (2:7b; 9b-11; 3:9-20). 

"The Lord will be awesome against them; for He will famish all the gods of the earth, and to him shall bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations."   Zeph.  2:11

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