Zephaniah means treasured or hidden of Yahweh, which is an interesting play on words in that Israel was supposed to be the Lord’s, treasure as well as being meant to be hidden from their enemies in the Lord.
Zephaniah is thought to have ministered in the latter half of King Josiah’s reign, whose history can be found in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 34. It’s a pity that Zephaniah isn’t thought to have ministered earlier in Josiah’s rule, particularly when the scroll of the law had been found and Josiah started to implement God’s ways… For then Zephaniah’s name would have had an ironic double meaning for this scroll (God’s word) had been treasured enough by a previous person to hide it away for a future date…
And therefore perhaps Zephaniah as God’s spokesman means God’s word is / was both treasured and hidden? Though Moyter believes that Zephaniah may have been the court prophet who was the Godly influence on the young king…and makes a case with his genealogy dating back to the previous Reforming King, Hezekiah.
Because of Josiah’s continual Godly rule; Zephaniah’s prophecy is more of an intentional warning for the generation to follow to continue living in God’s established ways. Yet…God knew they wouldn’t and therefore the warning of the coming “Day of the Lord” would cause devastation and judgement.
This then accounts for the seemingly distancing / forward thrust of Zephaniah’s prophecy from what was actually happening within his time on a historical setting.
His words were in the format of oracles of doom, against the nations and of salvation. Certainly within Josiah’s time there was a time of peace and blessing and so the encouragement of salvation would have been one of continuation within God’s good graces.
There is an interesting thrust and contraction with the NT within the oracles of Doom going out from Judah, to Philistia, Moab and Ammon, Cush, Ethiopia, Assyria….for in the Gospels the message is one of going out from Jerusalem into the entire world with the message of salvation and perhaps Luke intentionally mentions the Ethiopian eunuch to high light this point? Acts 8:27
Finally one comes to the conclusion that it is Jerusalem who takes the brunt of God’s warning against the other nations to continue to fear God and his goodness.
Finally there is encouragement of restoration, that those forced into exile will be regathered, redeemed and restored.
Now for me to climb back onto my soap box…hmmm perhaps two or three milk crates stacked on top…grunt, humppph… arghhh…umphhooph… 🙂
For the key verse of Zephaniah is 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.
This verse is tied in with
Deu 4:29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.The context being after you have been punished by God for turning away from God to idols. My soapbox is that Zephaniah adds weight to my disliking and disdain as for how Popular Christianity uses the Scriptures as a form of greed and idolatry through saying.. If you seek the Lord he will grant you the desire of your heart, and so we seek material gains.. The true meaning is continually found within the Prophets..If God becomes the desire of your heart…you will find him!…and hence Zephaniah calls us today to a restoration of true Christian Spirituality.