Introduction: Do you feel nervous? Does life make you anxious? Do
you try to calm yourself by saying, “I can handle this?” Our lesson
this week is about people who got into a whole bunch of trouble. The
trouble began because they depended upon their own power and
authority. They relied on their gates, walls, wealth, and intellect
to keep them safe. They sacrificed others to protect themselves. God
has a better way for us. Let’s plunge into our study of Zephaniah
and find out more!
- Read Zephaniah 1:1-3. This does not sound like good news!
Now read Genesis 8:21-22. How do you reconcile these
apparently conflicting statements?
- Notice in Genesis 8:21 God says, “as I have done”
and in Genesis 8:22 “as long as the earth endures.”
Could “as I have done” narrow the promise to mean
only that God would not destroy the earth with
another flood. It would not be a comment on other
means of destruction? (Compare Isaiah 54:9)
- Should we understand “as long as the earth
endures” as a prediction that God will again
destroy the earth in the end?
- Notice in that Zephaniah 1:3 it talks about the
wicked having “heaps of rubble.” Does this mean the
wicked will survive? Does it mean the wicked will
be left behind?
- What event do you think is being described in these
verses? (I think it is the Second Coming of Jesus.)
- Read Zephaniah 1:4-5. Does this sound like the end of
days or a problem in Zephaniah’s day? (This sounds
current to Zephaniah: Baal in Jerusalem. Recall that in
Matthew 24 Jesus simultaneously discussed the destruction
of Jerusalem and the Second Coming, so discussing the end
of days and current catastrophes together is not unique
to this passage.)
- Is there a Baal warning here for us today? (Yes. I
don’t know anyone who bows down to an idol. None of
my neighbors do that. But, I struggle with
depending on the things “I have made” rather than on
God. We can trust nothing but God.)
- Notice that these people are in accord with (swear
by) Molech. Read 2 Kings 23:10. Is that a current
problem? (Yes. People abort their children to
improve their own life. People no longer seem
willing to sacrifice their own lifestyle to send
their children to Christian schools. Swearing by
Molech is preferring yourself over your children in
a way that harms your children.)
- Read Zephaniah 1:14-15. I remember when I first started
teaching in law school. I was very excited to see my new
office. A former judge had previously been in that
office, and I was looking forward to meeting him. I
thought he would embrace me as his successor, but it
turned out that he did not like leaving his office, and
he saw me as the reason he had to leave. Have you had a
situation in which you and someone else have a completely
different view of a situation?
- Do you look at the Second Coming as a day of
darkness and gloom? (No! Praise God! He is coming
to take me (us) home with Him.)
- Read Zephaniah 1:16-17. What kind of people are
distressed by the Second Coming? (Sinners.)
- Read Zephaniah 1:18 and consider it with the last two
verses. We are all sinners. What stands out about these
sinners? (These are sinners who depend on their wealth,
their fortified walls, and their high towers. Those
sinners are unforgiven sinners. Forgiven sinners depend
upon the Lord.)
- Read Zephaniah 2:1-3. We just read about blood, guts,
fire, battle, and distress. Is that inevitable? (No!
Destruction in the end is inevitable, but being a part of
it is not.)
- What does God call upon us to do? (Seek God.)
- What is God looking for in us? (Humility,
- Does this sound like righteousness by works?
(Look at the big picture here. Those targeted
for destruction depend on what they have made:
towers, walls of defense, and money. Those who
are saved depend on God. That is why they are
humble and obedient.)
- Read Romans 3:22-26. Have we all sinned? (Yes.)
- How do we acquire righteousness? (Through faith in
Jesus. These are the dependant people, not the
- Read Zephaniah 2:15. Of what does the phrase, “I am, and
there is none besides me” remind you?
- Read Isaiah 45:5-6 and Isaiah 47:10. Who is speaking in
Isaiah 45? (This is the Lord saying “I am” and “there is
none besides Me.”)
- Who is speaking in Isaiah 47? (The wicked who think
they are like gods.)
- Are you seeing a theme here? The righteous depend upon
God. The wicked depend upon themselves. When sin arises
in your life, on whom do you depend? When troubles arise
in your life, to whom or what do you turn?
- The End of Fear
- Read Zephaniah 3:11-12. What attitude does God despise?
What attitude characterizes His people? (This is the flip
side of what we just discussed. God is against the proud
and haughty. He will remove them and leave the meek and
- In so many ways I know I am proud. Is it mere pride
that is the problem? Look again at Zephaniah 3:12.
(The problem seem to be pride that arises from self-dependance. The central question is whether we
depend upon God or depend upon self. Those who
remain are those who depend upon God.)
- Read Zephaniah 3:13. Are you nervous? Are you afraid?
- Read Revelation 21:8. What is the first sin that is
mentioned? (The “cowardly.” It seems very odd that
being a coward seems worse than being a murder!)
- What does Zephaniah 3:13 suggest is God’s goal for
us? (There is a very strong link between humbly
depending upon God and having no fear. God’s goal
for our life is to live without fear. Being a coward
shows a lack of trust in God.)
- Read Zephaniah 3:14-15. Remember that the sins of the
people got them in trouble. God sent very wicked people
to punish the mildly wicked. Must we continue to suffer
for our sins? (No. God wants to take away our punishment.
He will take away our fear.)
- Read Zephaniah 3:16. How frightened are you if you cannot
raise your hands in defense? (You are not only fearful,
you have given up.)
- Read Zephaniah 3:17. Is God greater than our problems?
(He is “mighty” to save!)
- When you forgive someone, are you grudging about it?
Are you reluctant to forgive?
- What is God’s attitude about forgiveness? (He
delights in our dependance. He wants to put His arms
around us and “quiet [our fears] with His love.” He
breaks out in singing when you rely upon Him because
He is celebrating!)
- Can you imagine what it is like to have God
break into singing because of you?
- Read Zephaniah 3:19-20. Recall the problem with pride?
What does God say He will give us? (Praise and honor.)
- How do you explain this? Doesn’t praise and honor
create pride? (Our “honor” comes not from what we
do, but from what God does. When we get this
confused, and start crediting ourselves, we get into
- Friend, why not make your life easier? If you give up
pride and vanity about your own works, and humbly depend
upon God, He will take away your fear. He will give you
peace. He will start singing about you!
- Next week: First Things First! (Haggai).