Zephaniah, whose name, says St Jerome, signifies "The Watchman of the Lord," or "The Hidden of the Lord," prophesied in the beginning of the reign of King Josiah. He prophesied the punishments of the Jews for their idolatry and other crimes; also the punishments that were to come on diveres nations; the coming of Christ, and the conversion of the Gentiles.
1. The great and terrible day of judgement. In popular thinking the
day of the Lord would bring untold blessing to all Gods people, and
destruction to their enemies. Zephaniah spells out the message that all evil will be
punished. The day is close at hand when all who are guilty of idolatry, violence, fraud,
and all who sit by in idle indifference, will be set apart for destruction. And their cry
will be heard in every quarter of the city of Jerusalem. Zephaniah 1:1-18.
2. All sinners shall be judged. The only hope for Gods people is to seek him, and begin living by his standards. If they do not, they will share the fate of the nations around: Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia and Assyria. Zephaniah 2:1-15.
3. The conversion of the Gentiles. Beginning with rebellion against God, and the corruption of religion, the rot spreads into every sector of society. In the end, God has no alternative but to wipe the city out - but not completely. There is a remnant and God has a purpose for the faithful few who will survive when all human pride and self-sufficiency is done away. There is a cause for great rejoicing. God is in the midst of his people: he will pour out his love on them. He will make them into those who are pure of heart. All the nations of the world will have a share in this. Zephaniah 3:1-20.