“Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3).
Judgement was coming on the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 1:4-6). The prophet, Zephaniah, sounded the warning, saying – “The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of cloud and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers” (Zephaniah 1:14-16).
Why was God bringing judgment to them? The kingdom had become greatly corrupted. Consider: (1) Idolatry (Zephaniah 1:4-5). God would purge the land of this. (2) Mixed devotion (Zephaniah 1:56). They were trying to serve both the LORD and other gods. Such will not work (cf. Matthew 6:24). (3) Apostasy (Zephaniah 1:6). They had turned from following the LORD. (4) Corrupt leadership (Zephaniah 3:3-4 cf. 1:8; Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 5:31; 6:31). The civil leaders (princes and judges) and the religious leaders (prophets and priests) were not serving and protecting the people. There were preying on the people (cf. Ezekiel 34:1-6). (5) Violence and deceit (Zephaniah 1:9). Some believe that leaping over the threshold refers to idolatry (cf. 1 Samuel 5:4-5). Others believe that the wording is of robbery. Darrell Conley combined these two thoughts, commenting, “The superstitious believed that the threshold of a house was protected by the household gods. Therefore, those bent on robbery or mischief would leap over the threshold in an attempt to escape the notice of the household deities” (Editors Thomas Warren and Garland Elkins, The Minor Prophets, p. 241). (6) Complacency (Zephaniah 1:12). Some did not believe that God would punish them (cf. Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9; Isaiah 29:15; Psalm 10:11; 94:6-7). He would correct this error. (7) Some trusted in the wrong things (Zephaniah 1:18). This verse reads, “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath.” Proverbs 11:4 reads, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
What should be done? (1) “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice” (Zephaniah 2:3a). This was not the time to give up. Continued faithfulness was needed. We are told, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Those who needed to repent, urgently needed to do so. Isaiah pleaded, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7). (2) “Seek righteousness” (Zephaniah 2:3b). We are told to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). (3) “Seek humility” (Zephaniah 2:3c). We are told, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…” (1 Peter 5:5-6). Judgment on the nation was coming. However, God might be providentially with the faithful (Zephaniah 2:3d). Homer Hailey comments, “Righteousness and meekness are essentials of escape but the prophet does not promise certain escape. Rather, “it may be ye will be hid’; for the wickedness is so great and the judgment so terrible that even these who seek righteousness may suffer vicariously for the sins of society. If there is to be any way of escape, Zephaniah offers the only possible hope for that escape in righteousness and meekness” (Hailey, A Commentary on The Minor Prophets, pp 234-235).
This is the best hope for any people. “Let us not grow weary while doing good…” (Galatians 6:9).