Zephaniah 1–3

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 210


Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Lehi, and Nahum and prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, about 639 to 608 B.C. He may have been a descendent of King Hezekiah (see the commentary for Zephaniah 1:1 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 223).

Zephaniah’s was a grim message of divine retribution for the wickedness of Judah and the surrounding nations. He warned the people, “Seek ye the Lord … ; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid [protected] in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). This was an apt message for Zephaniah, whose name means “the Lord hides” (see Bible Dictionary, “Zephaniah,” p. 792).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Zephaniah 1–3. Righteousness is the best preparation for the Second Coming. (20–25 minutes)

Write the following question on the board: Who will be destroyed at the Second Coming? Ask for student responses. If they say it will be the wicked, ask them who that includes, since everyone sins and even those saved at the Second Coming will not be perfect. Have them read Zephaniah 1:3–18; 2:4–15; and 3:2–4, 8, 11 and list the sins that the prophet Zephaniah said would lead to the people’s destruction. The following are possible answers:

  • Idolaters (see 1:4–5).

  • Those who turn from the Lord (see 1:6).

  • Those who do not seek the Lord (see 1:6).

  • The proud (see 1:8, 14; 2:10; 3:11).

  • The violent (see 1:9).

  • Liars (see 1:9).

  • Those who rely on riches (see 1:11, 18).

  • Drunkards (see 1:12).

  • The complacent (see 1:12).

  • Nations that attack Israel (see 2:4–15).

  • The disobedient (see 3:2).

  • Those who corrupt God’s laws (see 3:4).

Tell students that Zephaniah had a suggestion for how to avoid being destroyed at the Second Coming. Have them read Zephaniah 2:1–3 and summarize the prophet’s counsel. Ask: What do you think Zephaniah was trying to emphasize by repeating the word before?

Share your testimony of the importance of preparing before the Lord comes again. Read the following statement by Neal A. Maxwell, who was then Church commissioner of education:

“All members of the Church need to accept the reality of Christ’s return in majesty and power before that event occurs; for, as C. S. Lewis put it, it will do men little good to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up, for when the ‘Author of the play comes on stage, the play is over!’” (“Q&A,” New Era, Jan. 1971, 9).

If time permits, select some verses from Zephaniah 3 that show the blessings that come to those who live during the Millennium (see the commentary for Zephaniah 3:8–20 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 224).