Chapter one of Zephaniah takes us a few steps closer to the destruction of God’s people, Judah, to the days of king Josiah. Josiah will attempt a spiritual reform among God’s people, but it is too little too late. The “day of the Lord” is a repeated theme as Zephaniah begins. Judgment is coming.
Judgment is not coming, however, just for Judah, but for all those nations surrounding her who for far too long tempted her with ways not of the Lord, and oppressed Judah repeatedly. Zephaniah has four parts:
1) The coming punishment of the people of God (1:1-2:3).
2) The coming punishment of other nations (2:4-15).
3) The coming punishment of the people of God (3:1-8)
4) The restoration of the remnant of God’s people (3:9-20).
Note that both the people of God and other nations stand condemned for precisely the same sins. God does not have two standards of expected behavior. The world may not acknowledge God, but God expects them none-the-less to follow His rules.