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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Zephaniah

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WRITER: Zephaniah identified himself better than any of the other minor prophets. As Habakkuk concealed himself in silence, Zephaniah went to the opposite extreme more than is ordinary. He traced his lineage back to his great-great-grandfather, who was Hizkiah, whom we know as Hezekiah, king of Judah. Zephaniah was of the royal line (Zephaniah 1:1).

TIME: He located the time of his writing just as clearly as he did his identification — “In the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah” (Zephaniah 1:1). According to the arrangement of the Hebrew Scriptures, Zephaniah was the last of the prophets before the captivity. He was contemporary with Jeremiah and probably with Micah. His was the swan song of the Davidic kingdom. He is credited with giving impetus to the revival during the reign of Josiah.

THEME: The dark side of love. Sweetness and light are associated with love on every level, and rightly so, but this aspect does not exhaust the full import of love. Love expresses itself always for the good of the one who is loved. This is the reason that it is difficult to associate love with the judgment of God. The popular notion of God is that He is a super Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. One nature of His is expressed by love, and the other nature is expressed in wrath by judgment. These two attributes appear to contradict one another to the extent that they seem to be describing two different gods. Zephaniah is filled with the wrath and judgment of God (Zephaniah 1:15; 3:8), but there is the undertone of the love of God (Zephaniah 3:17). It is love that prompts a parent to take the child out of the home to a hospital and to deliver him to the surgeon who endangers the life by pressing a scalpel into the vitals. This act is as much an expression of love as are the candies that are brought to the bedside the next week.

TWO THOUGHTS: Two thoughts stand out in this brief book:

(1) “The day of the LORD” occurs seven times. Obadiah and Joel, the first of the writing prophets, were the first to use this expression; Zephaniah, the last, brings it to our attention again. This has particular application to the Great Tribulation, which precedes the kingdom and is included in the day of the Lord. It is a time of wrath.

(2) “Jealousy” occurs twice. It is not on the same level as human jealousy, but reveals the love of God for His people who have failed.

Outline for Habakkuk ← Prior Section
Outline for Zephaniah Next Section →
Notes for Habakkuk ← Prior Book
Notes for Haggai Next Book →
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