Zephaniah 3

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Editor's Note

We’re also going to take a brief pause from our summer books (1 & 2 Chronicles) to read from some of the minor prophets that are either directly mentioned in 1 & 2 Chronicles or that lived and prophesied within the time frames of those books. 

These short prophetical books help us understand what God’s people would have been hearing (and feeling) as they lived through some tumultuous times and help add color to the historical books we’re reading over the next couple of months! 

Read Zephaniah 3


Woe to the city of oppressors,
    rebellious and defiled!
She obeys no one,
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
    she does not draw near to her God.
Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her rulers are evening wolves,
    who leave nothing for the morning.
Her prophets are unprincipled;
    they are treacherous people.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
    and do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
    and every new day he does not fail,
    yet the unrighteous know no shame.

Jerusalem Remains Unrepentant

“I have destroyed nations;
    their strongholds are demolished.
I have left their streets deserted,
    with no one passing through.
Their cities are laid waste;
    they are deserted and empty.
Of Jerusalem I thought,
    ‘Surely you will fear me
    and accept correction!’
Then her place of refuge would not be destroyed,
    nor all my punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
    to act corruptly in all they did.
Therefore wait for me,”
    declares the Lord,
    “for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
    to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out my wrath on them—
    all my fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
    by the fire of my jealous anger.

Restoration of Israel’s Remnant

“Then I will purify the lips of the peoples,
    that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
    and serve him shoulder to shoulder.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, my scattered people,
    will bring me offerings.
11 On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame
    for all the wrongs you have done to me,
because I will remove from you
    your arrogant boasters.
Never again will you be haughty
    on my holy hill.
12 But I will leave within you
    the meek and humble.
The remnant of Israel
    will trust in the name of the Lord.
13 They will do no wrong;
    they will tell no lies.
A deceitful tongue
    will not be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
    and no one will make them afraid.”

14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
    shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
    Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
    he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
    never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
    they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
    do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

18 “I will remove from you
    all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
    which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal
    with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
    I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
    in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.

Go Deeper

This final chapter of Zephaniah begins with a sobering message to the people of Judah but concludes with the hope of restoration. Judah, like the nations surrounding her, had fallen to idolatry, corruption, and wickedness. Zephaniah presents stark contrasts of the righteous, just, perfect God to the reckless, treacherous, profane leaders of Judah. Not only is God’s warning of judgment that He will purge His people presented, but also a message of hope and restoration is promised.  

Reading the prophets of the Old Testament gives us a vivid picture of how seriously God views sin. As judgments are predicted, there are also reminders of God’s plan to restore and redeem. After God’s judgment, God will transform the lives of His people (those who are repentant and humble before Him.) There is a picture of unity, humility, authentic worship, and life without fear promised to those who seek the Lord. “On that day, the Lord your God will be in your midst, a mighty one who will save.” What a message of hope God offers through Zephaniah’s faithful prophecy. 

Zephaniah’s picture of God’s delight in His people is worthy of our focus today. Consider the words used to express God’s care: restore, take away judgments, clear enemies, save, rejoice, quiet with love, exult, gather, change shame to praise, restore. Imagine the hope this offered to the people of Judah!

This description also applies today. Our God rejoices over His own in Christ with loud singing. Notice this is not an insignificant response, this describes a divine celebration! Ultimate restoration and eternal hope have been sealed by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. On that promised future day, when we’re face to face with Jesus, we will rejoice and sing in worship and praise joining in His song of delight.


  1. How have you been challenged to view the prophecies of God’s judgment as acts of merciful warnings?
  2. Where do you most long for God to save and restore? 
  3. What is your response to God’s immense delight in you expressed with loud singing?

A Quote

“God is so happy in the love He bears to His people that He breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.”– Charles Spurgeon

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3 thoughts on “Zephaniah 3”

  1. Intense chapter, we see God’s jealous wrath, His gracious forgiveness, and His blessings. God loves us, wants us, desires us for a relationship with Him so yes He is jealous when we have “idols”, other things that are before Him. When we come to Him with the broken , confessing our sins, He is willing to forgive and forgets. Our blessings sometimes come with consequences of reaping what we have sown previously, like David, a man after God’s own heart.

    Our country needs us. Zephaniah is showing us that we need to be on our knees for this country. It is time to be concerned. We can be angry about what is going on but it should be mingled with compassion. Pray pray and pray some more. Stand up for our commitment to God, not being “holier” than thou but separate. We need to have a proper fear of God. (reading a good book about that “The Awe of God”). Stand together as believers, worship, have life groups, pray then pray some more, hear from God as to what and if we or individually we can so something. Edward Everett Hale quote “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”

    God You are so amazing and I am so in AWE of You. God see our country, hear our cries as we humble ourselves, and pray and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, then we will hear from heaven and HE will forgive our sin and heal our land. God thank You for loving us so much. God thank You for the pastors that are gathered, that You bless their time. Refresh them, sweep over them with Your Holy Spirit, give them a new revival of YOU!!!! God thank You for the camp that is going on at HC. Protect all those involved and move Your spirit over them as well in Jesus name amen.

  2. Ella Snodgrass

    Zephaniah 3:17 declares, “The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Almighty God is WITH us, SAVES us, DELIGHTS in us and SINGS over us! This is unimaginable that holy God would choose us, draw near to us and rejoice over us. There is no greater love than this! Oh, that we would respond in humble gratitude by aligning our lives in joyful obedience to the One who has drawn near to us.

  3. I have been meditating on Judah and their unique situation as I study in Jeremiah. One verse stood out to me here:
    12 But I will leave within you
    the meek and humble.
    The remnant of Israel
    will trust in the name of the Lord.
    Judah had all the plans of God spoken to them. They didn’t have to guess or really have faith, because they were told exactly what was to be. They were given a Plan A and a Plan B. All they had to do was repent, and trust and obey.
    I’m reminded how important it is to trust in God’s plan for our lives, and not our own. Even when we don’t know exactly how it’s going to end. Jer 29:11

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