Zephaniah 1:1–6 (NKJV)
1 The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
Zephaniah opens with a description of his genealogy, placing him as a member of a royal line, the great-grandson of King Hezekiah, and a distant relative of King Josiah. This put him squarely in the royal city, Jerusalem, giving him a direct look at the evil that had befallen the city and its leaders that would bring judgment to the city.
2 “I will utterly consume everything
From the face of the land,”
Says the Lord;
3 “I will consume man and beast;
I will consume the birds of the heavens,
The fish of the sea,
And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked.
I will cut off man from the face of the land,”
Says the Lord.
The Lord begins to speak with a promise of destruction. He will consume everything, man and beast, cutting them off from the face of the earth. His destruction will be extensive, massive, and complete.
4 “I will stretch out My hand against Judah,
And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place,
The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests—
5 Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops;
Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord,
But who also swear by Milcom;
6 Those who have turned back from following the Lord,
And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him.”
Those the Lord intends to destroy include the nation of Judah, Baal worshippers, idolatrous priests, pagan priests, worshippers of Milcom, all those who have turned back from worshipping the Lord. The message for today’s reader is this: judgment will come to the land who rejects God. Today, we see many nations rejecting God as Lord of all. God is merciful, and will give many opportunities for people and nations to repent, but eventually the time will come when judgment must fall. When that happens, destruction will be great. Cry out for repentance. Call for sinners to come home. Change before destruction comes!