Sometimes when we’re faced with grief, or distress, or abuse, persecution, looming punishment and the like, we develop a feeling of hopelessness. When those situations evolve we often feel completely surrounded, as if there’s no way out. If only there were something to give us hope, then we’d be alright…if only.
Zephaniah was a prophet who’s ministry came to an end just six years after Jeremiah’s began. And God’s people at the time had just come out of being under the rule of two very evil kings, Manasseh and Amon. And as we too often see, corrupt rulers corrupt their people. God’s people had become very wicked themselves during this time and had turned their backs on God’s will. The situation gets more interesting when we learn that they knew they had drifted away…they knew they had major problems, and they had lost hope. And into this mix comes Zephaniah preaching a message of repentance and hope.
Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.
Zephaniah called the people to repent, and the people knew that God would eventually bless them, but Zephaniah made it clear that there would be judgement first, then blessing. Our actions do cause us to face consequences. Sometimes even after we have repented, we still must deal with the consequences of our past actions against God, and that’s what happened to Judah. They would see Judah fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC, but the good news is that they did repent! And as a result they had hope for the future. They were able to weather the storm, the destruction, and the hard times because they had hope in God’s promise to bless them for their repentance and righteous living!
Zephaniah 3:14,17 – Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! … 17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
There is a lot to be learned from the small book of Zephaniah. God does not take sin lightly, and it will be punished. But we can take hope from the words of Zephaniah because our God reigns, and he will rescue the faithful remnant of his people who worship him, and obey his Word.