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Zephaniah

About the Book of Zephaniah

Zephaniah was a man who knew God. He was a prophet. He lived when Josiah was king of God's people. These were the people who lived in Judah.
Zephaniah wrote this book between the years 630 and 625 BC. (BC means ‘before Christ lived on earth’.) The book is in three parts. In Chapter 1, Zephaniah told the people in Judah that God would punish them. In Chapter 2, Zephaniah was speaking to people in many countries. These were the countries on every side of Judah. He told them that God was angry with them. He also told them that God would punish them. Chapter 3 is another message to the people in Judah.
At that time, the prophet Jeremiah also was giving God's messages to the people in Judah. Both prophets (Zephaniah and Jeremiah) said that God loved his people in Judah. But these prophets taught that God was also angry. The people had done what God does not like. That is why God was angry. God did not want to punish his people. He wanted to be kind to them. But he told them that they must stop doing wrong things. They should love him again. If they continued to love false gods, God would certainly punish them.
King Josiah was a good man. He listened to the prophets. He punished the false prophets. He took away the false gods that they had made out of wood or stone or metal. He also broke down the special tables of stone on which they burned gifts to God (sacrifices). That was because they did it in the wrong place or in the wrong way.
Some people in Judah listened to the prophets. Those people loved God. But many people did not listen. So about 40 years after that, God sent the army of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the city where the Temple (God's holy house) was. Babylon was an important city in another country. This happened in the year 586 BC. Four more kings had ruled Judah after Josiah.
The people from Babylon began to take Judah's people away from their homes to Babylon. In that way, God punished Judah's people. They had done what God does not like. So he punished them. But God had not finished with his people. He had said that his people would return to Judah at some time. Then the people would really love God and they would obey him. This will happen at the future time when God is king of the whole world. Then there will be a good and happy time.