Zephaniah: Beyond Darkness
By Lauren Murphy
“The Lord will be awesome to them when He destroys all the gods of the earth. Distant nations will now down to Him, all of them in their own lands.”
The book of Zephaniah was written by Zephaniah during the reign of King Josiah. But a detail that is often overlooked is the kings who reigned before Josiah. First is Manasseh. Well to put it simply, Manasseh was bad. Manasseh’s father, Hezekiah, had done a pretty good of bringing the nation of Judah back to fearing God. Hezekiah was human and sinned, but was on the right track. Then comes Manasseh. His dad had worked so hard and diligently to remove the ungodly things from the temple. With the help of God, Hezekiah was successful. The next thing you know, Manasseh has brought all the idols back in. So the entire nation of Judah follows the example of the king. The nation rebuilt the temples dedicated to idols and false gods. They even filled God’s temple with idols. This pattern of lifestyle continues through Manasseh’s son, Amon. Amon is murdered and his replaced by his son Josiah. As you can imagine, the entire nation is in trouble, and to top things off, is being led by an eight year old. But God proves that he can work through anyone. I forgot to mention before, but Judah was having some problems with Assyria. The people of Judah are in some serious trouble- they are rejecting the God, who delivered their ancestors from slavery and they are not fearing the one true God, but Assyria. This is where Zephaniah comes in. It’s pretty obvious that Judah needs somebody to step up to the plate- and Zephaniah does. He wrote this book to Judah and all the areas surrounding it that they would now the power and awesomeness of the one true God.
The book of Zephaniah is pretty much God saying if you think that the punishment Judah is going to get for their sin is big, then just wait until God comes back a second time. Chapter 1 starts out by God saying that one day He will destroy everything. All the idols, animals, temples, even mankind. He makes it very clear that He is sovereign and in control. Verse 15 talks about judgement day and says, “That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.”
God is telling everyone, not just the people of Judah, that on judgement day there will be no gray areas. You are either on God’s team or you aren’t.
The second chapter is written more to Judah, but can still be applied to us. The message translates the first verse like this, “Get yourselves together! Shape up!” They are being told to seek God with everything they have and to follow after Him with all of their heart. It goes on to say that all the idols, the ones that were talked about on chapter one, will all be blown away. Nothing will be left standing but the one true God and everyone will fall to their knees and worship Him.
The last chapter goes on about Judah’s disobedience. They refuse to listen to instruction and remain unrepentant.
But God does not leave it at that. God says he will redeem he nation of Judah, he will but them back despite all of their sin. He will oppress of all of their enemies and take care of them. All Judah has to do is rest their eyes on God and his awesome power. His awesomeness will be so great, all other the other nations will recognize it and bow down.
When you think about it, we are very similar to Judah. We don’t always fix our eyes on Christ, we put things in front of God, and we rely on our own strength and power to beat the enemy. We totally ignore God and try to handle all of our problems on our own in our own power. But God is waiting with open arms. We just need to hand over everything- our sins, worries, problems, and concerns over to the awesome and mighty God and he will take care of us. He will rescue, gather you, and bring you honor and praise. Our God is so awesome, sovereign, powerful, amazing, and in control that every single human being on this planet will one day bow before Him. We have two choices. We can decide to do it our own way, with our own fake gods that have no power, and ultimately fail OR put your faith in the awesome God who never fails. Which one will you choose?