The Future of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3)

Scripture Text:

Zephaniah 3

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1. Share an anecdote about when you “took a short cut” after being told by a parent or other adult exactly how to do something. What happened as a result? How did you feel about being corrected? What lesson did you learn from that experience?

2. Which typifies your stance as a youth relating to that heavenly parent, Yahweh? Explain your answer.

  • “my way is Yahweh”
  • “any way but Yahweh”
  • “have it your way, Yahweh”

3. After announcing God’s judgment against Judah and her neighbors, upon what city does Zephaniah finally focus? What words does he use to describe her?

4. What four specific actions highlight her insensitivity to sin? What four leadership groups are singled out (verses 3 and 4)? In each case, for what?

5. What qualities of God does Zephaniah hold up as a standard for the people? How well have they modeled these qualities and held to this standard?

6. With their history and the destruction of neighboring nations, why does Jerusalem ignore God’s gracious warning (verses 6 – 8)? What’s so hard about “accepting correction” (see Zephaniah 2:1 – 3)?

7. How is God’s redemption (verses 9 – 20) consistent with His righteousness and wrath (verses 5 and 8)? Has God changed His mind? Or is there some cause-and-effect link operating here? How does this compare with what is happening in Matthew 5:5 and Luke 1:52?

8. What will God do for His scattered people to make them more like Himself (verse 19)? What will be the cause for their rejoicing “on that day”? How does that compare with why they were once weeping “on that day” (chapter 1:10 – 13)?

9. Which of God’s actions do you believe would make the people most glad, but seem “too good to be true”? Which aspects of God’s deliverance might be shrugged off as “too little, too late”? Which reassurance would sound most convincing to Israel?

10. Try reading this chapter from the perspective of a poor peasant in Latin America or a starving person in sub-Saharan Africa. What does the Second Coming mean to them? To their oppressors? Does it mean anything different to you? If so, what? Will you be classed with the rejoicers (verse 11), or with those who trust (verse 12)?

11. Throughout Zephaniah there is a pattern of rebellion, restoration and rejoicing. If this book were the story of your life, in which of those three stages do you find yourself in relation to God? Why?

12. Joy will displace mourning and calm will follow the storms of God’s refining fire. How does that square with your experience of God?

13. What is the most important thing you learned from Zephaniah? What life-changing application are you making?

14. What application would you like God to favorably “remember”?

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