Zephaniah prophesies during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was a good king in Judah who was trying to bring revival to Jerusalem, the temple and Judah. His reforms mark an uptick in the spiritual lives of his people. Zephaniah is prophesying about a time when the Day of the Lord will come and judgment will be meted out to the nations of the world and the people of those nations.
He speaks, as do many of the prophets, of a day of destruction, of fire and brimstone, of the death of many. It is doomsday stuff, the stuff of Revelations, the end times. He speaks of it in the context of Assyria, Israel, Judah, Moab, Ammon, Cush and the nations of his day, but it would be easy to speak the same stuff about the world that we live in. He speaks of how leaders are enamored of power and wealth; how doing the right thing plays second fiddle to maintaining power (is that like saying that the ends justify the means?) He says that there is a day and it is coming soon when God will come as a refiner's fire and all that is not pure will be burnt away. Do you think that God cares more for the winners than the losers? do you think he cares more for the powerful than the powerless? Does he value the haves more than the have nots? Zephaniah believes that God's measurement will be about righteous living and those who have pursued the unholy things of this world will face the wrath of a righteous God.
What does that mean for us? What should we be doing? Let me suggest that throughout the Old Testament prophets with their dire warnings of impending judgment, there is a thread that speaks faithfully about God's preservation of the remnant; that part of humanity that has resisted the call to the flesh and maintained their obedience to the God of Creation, Jehovah. That remnant of faithful believer's will be protected from that judgment. I don't know how, but that is the promise found in Zephaniah and in other of the prophets.
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3: 17) Be faithful, honor God, worship in spirit and in truth, love your neighbor. In the midst of failed economies and political upheaval with the powerful and wealthy scratching and clawing to maintain their positions; God will not abandon you. His love for you will prevail. Even in the valley of the shadow, God will keep you from falling. He says, "I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor." Could we want more from our God than to be found worthy on the day that judgment comes? I think not! May you be faithful this day in your service to the King!