What do we think when we hear Zephaniah 3? Or to get past the head to the heart, what do we feel when we hear Zephaniah 3? Some of us have a bunch of walls or filters or past experiences that won’t let this text get through. You are good Calvinists, you know your heart is totally depraved, too full of too much sin. God is too great and infinite and you are too small and insignificant to even be noticed by God. You are nothing special, you haven’t done anything great for the kingdom. Some of you think God is mad at you or at least very disappointed. We need to know not just that God loves us, but how much He loves us. I want us to grasp, not our love for God, but God’s love for us this morning.
Zephaniah begins with the longest genealogy of any prophet in the Bible. He traces his ancestry back to his great-great-grandfather, Hezekiah, king of Judah. So finally we have a prophet who is a somebody, a descendent of royalty, a true blue blood. Zephaniah prophesied during the time of the good king Josiah (640-609BC). He seems to be writing from Jerusalem, he has intimate knowledge of the city (1:4, 10-11). I wonder if people were expecting more of a party line from him, something more favorable to those in leadership, something that would tickle the ears of the political and religious powers. The first sentence out of his mouth dispelled every such foolish notion. “I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth.” And then as if that wasn’t enough, he ups the ante in verse 8, “I will punish the officials and the king’s sons.” Zephaniah was a contemporary of Habakkuk and Jeremiah, maybe just before Jeremiah. That means that they had the saddest of all the prophecies. Zephaniah and Jeremiah were called upon by God to announce the last warnings and final appeals to His remnant people in Judah, the southern kingdom, before God’s judgment came upon them. Zephaniah and Jeremiah both lived to see the fall of Jerusalem and the fall of the temple of God, the great temple that Solomon built. They saw the great and terrible day of the Lord in their own time and land. This book of Zephaniah has been called the whole OT in miniature. The OT is pregnant with the gospel, the OT is great with gospel. And the prophets are toward the end of the pregnancy. In the prophets things start getting clearer, both the bad news and the good news. Zephaniah is especially full of gospel. It begins with the most sober announcement of our sin against God. Then comes the announcement of judgment on our sin. Then finally comes the good news of mercy, hope for sinners. Zephaniah begins with no hope, then a glimmer of hope and finally a full display of a glorious hope. Zephaniah is the tale of two days, two days of the Lord, a day of judgment and a day of jubilee.