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I. Zephaniah’s name means “Jehovah Hides.”
II. Zephaniah prophesied “in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah”
(1:1). Josiah ruled from 640 to 609 B.C.
A. Zeph. 2:13 indicates that Nineveh had not yet been overthrown (612 B.C.).
B. Zephaniah can be dated between 640 and 612 B.C.
III. “Hezekiah was succeeded by his son Manasseh, a lad of twelve years. It is doubtful that at any period of its history Judah had a more wicked ruler than Manasseh. He sought to undo all the good his father had done. He rebuilt the high places, reared altars to Baal and Ashtoreth, and built altars to the host of heaven. He committed the abomination of making his son pass through the fire, practicing augury and enchantment, and dealing with familiar spirits. To all this he added the sin of bloodshed, filling Jerusalem with innocent blood (see II Kings 21; II Chron. 33:1– 9). Under his reign the heathen party gained control of the government. Later Manasseh tried to correct the wickedness of his earlier years, but apparently without success (II Chron. 33:10–20). Ammon, who succeeded Manasseh, followed in the steps of his father; his reign was likewise one of great wickedness (II Chron. 33:21–25). “Josiah, who came to the throne at the age of eight, was the last good king to reign over Judah. At the age of sixteen he began to seek after Jehovah, the God of his fathers; and at the age of twenty he began to purge Judah. His reforms were among the most sweeping of any that were attempted by the kings who reigned over the southern kingdom. Altars and images were alike destroyed, and the bones of priests who had offered sacrifices on the altars of the false gods were gathered and burned. In the process of cleansing the temple a copy of the law was found and read before the young king. Alarmed at what he heard, he sent to a
prophetess, Huldah, for a word from God concerning what he had learned. The young king caused the newly found Word of God to be read in the hearing of the people, great and small. Why he sent to Huldah and not to Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, or Habakkuk, all prophets of the period, is unknown. The cleansing of the temple was followed by a Passover such as had not been observed with like enthusiasm in many years (see II Kings 22–23: II Chron. 34–35). It was in the time of the reign of this king that Zephaniah prophesied.” (Homer Hailey, A Commentary On The Minor Prophets, pgs. 223,234).
IV. Message of the book: “The book of Zephaniah repeatedly hammers home the message that the day of the Lord, judgment day, is coming when the malignancy of sin will be dealt with. Israel and her gentile neighbors will soon experience the crushing hand of God’s wrath. But after the chastening process is complete, blessing will come in the person of the Messiah.” (Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts, pg. 271).
V. What we can learn: Jehovah is the God of the universe and the day of the Lord is