Journey Through The Scriptures

The Prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah

Lesson 6: Imminent Judgment on the Nations

(Scripture to Read: Zephaniah 2:1–15)

The people of Judah were not to be left without the opportunity to repent and change their ways. So the people are commanded to come together, to assemble themselves, before God’s judgment falls. Zephaniah warned that this day would result in the disobedient and faithless being swept away like chaff in the wind—a familiar picture in an agricultural society. Chaff was the waste that was quickly and easily blown away by the wind as grain was tossed into the air in the process called threshing or winnowing. Zephaniah called on Judah to consider her ways and seek the Lord before the dreaded day of retribution fell. Sadly, however, history shows the only permanent cure for idolatry was captivity and exile in Babylon.

The remainder of Zephaniah 2 makes it clear that Judah would not be alone in suffering God’s wrath. The Philistines were long-time enemies of Israel who lived along the seacoast. Their great cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron were to be desolated and emptied of their inhabitants. The judgment on Moab and Ammon was not only because of their sinfulness, but also particularly because of their antagonism toward Israel. Many Bible students are puzzled by the reference to Cush, or Ethiopia. It could be that Zephaniah was simply including the farthest reaches of the earth as illustrative of God’s intention to judge all nations. But there is no doubt why the prophet included the evil kingdom of Assyria, which came under particular condemnation in Nahum and was conquered in 612 BCE by the Medes and Babylonians.

Study Questions

  1. What part does humility play in the call to seek God and restore His favor (2:3)?
  2. What was particularly offensive to God about the actions of Moab and Ammon (Hint: read Genesis 19:29–38)?
  3. According to Zephaniah 2:15, what arrogant boast of the Assyrians was so offensive to God, in addition to their well-known cruelty?

Something to Think About

True humility always pleases God. Zephaniah 2:3 teaches us that humility includes not only the recognition that we are the creatures and God is the Creator, but a determination to do what is just and right, which means to do what He commands.