The book of Zephaniah is divided into three parts: a warning of judgment, an exhortation to repentance, and God’s promise of salvation.
Zephaniah prophesied just prior to God’s judgment of Judah for her sins. In the prophecy, God exhorts His people to repent, in view of the coming judgment. Since the people did not repent in a lasting manner, they went into captivity in Babylon, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Finally, the book prophesies the eventual salvation and restoration of Judah in the grace of God.
However, the ultimate scope of the book is far broader than that. This is frequent in the Old Testament prophets. The theme of the book is the Day of the Lord.
Zephaniah addressed the nations of the world as well as Judah, and the final timing of the judgment described in his prophecy is the Last Days.
Thus, the judgments described here are the final, universal judgments of God – beyond the judgment inflicted upon Judah. Furthermore, the restoration described here was not fulfilled when the Jews returned to their land after the 70-year captivity in Babylon, but will be fulfilled during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.
Zephaniah is only three chapters long, but it contains a clear and comprehensive prophetic revelation of the Last Days. As one sixteenth-century writer observed, “If any one wishes all the secret oracles of the prophets to be given in a brief compendium, let him read through this brief Zephaniah.”
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