This month our Bible reading plan takes us to the Minor Prophets. To help us assemble these books and understand their message, here are a number of resources to Zephaniah, the first book of The Twelve. You can find more information about the Minor Prophets here.
Zephaniah begins with an historical superscription (1:1):
The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
This historical marker places Zephaniah as prophet speaking to the Southern kingdom during the reign of Israel’s final righteous king. The The ESV Study Bible marks the date around 620 B.C. and says,
Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah, when Egypt, Judah, and Babylonia (with the help of the Medes) were regaining their autonomy and eroding the power of Assyria. Shortly after this time the Babylonians would replace the Assyrians as the dominant power in the Near East.
An Outline of Nahum
The Bible Project has the simplest outline, where judgment upon Jerusalem and the nations is followed by a unified hope of salvation for the nations and Jerusalem.
- Judgment on Jerusalem (1:1–2:3)
- Judgment on the Nations and Jerusalem . . . Again (2:4–3:8)
- Hope for the Nations and Jerusalem (3:9–20)
- God transforms the nations into a unified family (3:9–10)
- God restores Jerusalem (3:11–20)
The Day of the LORD is the key theme in the book, as it takes up the majority of three chapters (1:7–3:20). The ESV Study Bible provides a detailed outline of the Day of the LORD. What follows abbreviates some of the details.
- Heading (1:1)
- Judgment Coming Against Judah (1:2–6)
- The Day of the Lord (1:7–3:20)
In their exposition of Zephaniah, Fuhr and Yates provide the most thorough outline (238–49). Beginning with two oracles of judgment (1:2–18 and 2:4–3:7), the book is closed by an oracle of salvation (3:9–20). In between these three main sections, we find a call to repentance (2:1–3) and a call to wait (3:8).
- An Oracle of Judgment—The Great Day of the Lord (1:2–18)
- Judgment against mankind (pictured as a reversal of creation) (1:2–3)
- Judgment against the priests and officials of Judah (pictured as a sacrifice) (1:4–9)
- Judgment against the merchants of Jerusalem (pictured by a lament) (1:10–13)
- Judgment against the fortified cities (pictured by the bitter cry) (1:14–16)
- Judgment against mankind (pictured as complete consumption) (1:17–18)
- A Call to Repentance (2:1–3)
- An Oracle of Judgment against the Nations (2:4–3:7)
- Philistia (2:4–7) — against the West
- Moab and Ammon (2:8–11) — against the East
- Cush (2:12) — against the South
- Assyria (2:13–15) — against the North
- Jerusalem (3:1–7) — against the Center
- A Call to Wait (3:8)
- An Oracle of Salvation (3:9–20)
- The Reverse of Babel (3:9–13)
- A Celebration Song (3:14–17)
- The Reversal of Exile (3:18–20)
Overview Sermons on Zephaniah
- Zephaniah by Richard Belcher
- Major Points from Zephaniah by John Blanchard
- What’s There to be Thankful For? by Mark Dever
- God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own by Mike Bullmore
Sermon Series on Zephaniah
Via Emmaus Articles on The Twelve
- Reading the Minor Prophets Together: Ten Observations from Paul House’s ‘The Unity of the Twelve’
- Finding Theological Unity in The Twelve: Reading the Minor Prophets with Richard Fuhr and Gary Yates
- The Theological Message of the Twelve
- Putting the Prophets in Their Place: An Introduction to the Historical Background of the Minor Prophets
Books on Zephaniah
- The Books of Nahum, Habbakuk, and Zephaniah (NICOT) by O. Palmer Robertson
- Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi by Iain Duguid and Matthew Harmon
Books on the Minor Prophets
- Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Gary E. Yates, The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2016).
- Paul House, The Unity of the Twelve (New York: T & T Clark).
Books on the Prophets in General
- Peter J. Gentry, How to Read and Understand the Prophets (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2004).
- Aaron Chalmers, Interpreting the Prophets: Reading, Understanding and Preaching from the Worlds of the Prophets (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015)
Soli Deo Gloria, ds