Zephaniah Bible Study Resources

The bible study resources on this page are intended to help you understand and apply Zephaniah. Scripture instructs people to seek wisdom (Prov. 4:7), so utilizing the resources that God has provided the Church, helps bible study leaders, participants, and even preachers and teachers. Below you will find helpful and simple information on Zephaniah, including a video overview from The Bible project, a list of facts and figures, and a book summary, all intended to help you get off to a strong start on studying this book.

Zephaniah Overview from The Bible Project

To better understand the message of Zephaniah, it is help to start with an overview. The Bible Project is a great resource to learn from and share with a bible study, small group, or congregation. “We are committed to helping the whole world see the Bible as one unified story that leads to Jesus,” is the mission of The Bible Project, which is based in Portland, Oregon, USA. Best Bible Commentaries uses these video with explicit permission. Please see more about The Bible Project below. [1]

Zephaniah Facts and Figures

Zephaniah at a Glance: This book records the prophet’s sober description of the “Day of the Lord,” which oft-repeated phrase was in reference to the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the future great tribulation when God would punish all nations. Zephaniah closes his book with a glowing prediction of Israel’s eventual cleansing and restoration. [2]

Bottom Line Introduction: THE PROPHECY OF A PURE LANGUAGE. “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent” (3:9). This is the good news of Zephaniah, after the book predicts the bad news – Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians. Zephaniah was one of two prophets of royal descent. Isaiah was the other.

Facts about Zephaniah

1. Who? Zephaniah. He was the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah (Zeph. 1:1). He predicts two glorious facts concerning the Millennium not mentioned by any other prophet:

a. That God would “turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9)

b. That God Himself would rejoice over His people “with singing!” (Zeph. 3:17)

2. What? The Book of Zephaniah.

3. When and where? 640 B.C., from Jerusalem.

4. Why? To predict the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and subsequent salvation by the Messiah.

5. To whom? The Southern Kingdom of Israel.

Key Events

1. Glorious prophecy of Israel’s cleansing and restoration

Key Individuals

1. Zephaniah: Old Testament prophet who referred to the coming Great Tribulation as “the Day of the Lord” more times than any other biblical writer and the only Old Testament prophet to call God “the King of Israel”

Key Places

1. Judah and Jerusalem: Southern Kingdom and its capital, to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar

2. Gaza, Ekron, Ashkelon, and Ashdod: four Philistine cities, to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar

3. Moab, Ammon, and Ethiopia: three pagan nations to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar

Unique Features

1. Zephaniah’s ancestry is traced back four generations, which is unique among the prophets.

2. As in the case of Nineveh (Jonah 1, 3), God here through Zephaniah pleads for the Philistines to seek Him and be saved (2:1-3).

3. The phrase, “the day of the Lord,” a reference to the coming great tribulation, is found more times in Zephaniah than in any other book.

4. Zephaniah 3:8 is the only Old Testament verse that includes every one of the 22 Hebrew alphabet letters.

5. Zephaniah predicts God will some day “rest” again after completing his great work in redemption as he once did after finishing his work in creation (compare Zeph. 3:17 with Gen. 2:2-3).

6. The title “King of Israel,” in referring to God, is found but twice in the Bible – once in the Old and once in the New Testament. Zephaniah uses it (3:15) as did Nathanael, the disciple of Christ, centuries later (Jn. 1:49).

7. Zephaniah is the only Old Testament biblical book that records God singing (3:17). Compare with Hab. 2:11, 12.

Comparison with Other Bible Books

Genesis:

• Both speak of God’s cutting off humankind from the face of the earth (1:3; Gen. 6:7).

• Genesis recorded the beginning of Moab and Ammon (Gen. 19:36-38; Zephaniah foretold their end (2:8-11). The fathers of these two nations were born to Lot through incest soon after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Zephaniah compared that event to the impending destruction of Moab and Ammon.

Nahum, Isaiah, and Ezekiel:

• Nahum provides the most graphic account of Nineveh’s destruction.

• Isaiah provides the most graphic account of Egypt’s destruction (19, 20).

• Zephaniah provides the most graphic account of Judah’s destruction

• Ezekiel provides the most graphic description of Gog and Magog’s destruction

Titles for and Types of Jesus

1. The Lord of Hosts (2:9a)

2. The God of Israel (2:9b)

3. The Just Lord (3:5)

4. The King of Israel (3:15)

Zephaniah Summary

Zephaniah prophesied during the reforms of King Josiah (640-609 b.c.), who brought spiritual revival to Judah after the long and disastrous reign of Manasseh. Zephaniah pronounced God’s judgment on corruption and wickedness but also his plan to restore Judah. He spoke of the coming “day of the Lord,” when sin would be punished, justice would prevail, and a “remnant” of the faithful would be saved. The term “day of the Lord” occurs throughout the Bible referring both to impending historical judgments from God and to his final judgment at the end of time. Though Zephaniah does not give details about this day, he speaks of its fearsome consequences (1:18) and calls people to seek the Lord (2:3). [3]

Notes

[1] “The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create 100% free videos, podcasts, and resources that explore the Bible’s unified story.”

[2] Creative Commons License: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License | by Harold Wilmington – https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/sword/

[3] https://www.esv.org/