What do you know about the Old Testament prophet Zephaniah? Zephaniah 1:1 tells us that Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah. That means something. It means that Zephaniah was born into one of the worst times in history, but he also lived to see a revival. In fact, I think we can assume that it is Zephaniah’s preaching in part that God used to bring about this revival.
Josiah was the king of Judah that had one of the most unusual resumes ever for a king. He was 8 years old when he began to reign. His father was Amon. Amon was only 22 years old when he began to reign. He lasted only two years before he was assassinated. Amon’s father was a king named Manasseh. He was only 12 years old when he began to reign, but he reigned for 55 years. Here is the first word we get about him in 2 Kings. “He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, imitating the abominations of the nations that the Lord had disposed before the Israelites.” (2 Kings 21) Later in verse 16 of 2 Kings 21 we read, “Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem with it from one end to another. This was in addition to his sin he caused Judah to commit so that they did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.”
This is the world in which Zephaniah was born. Fifty-five years of Manasseh’s reign and the two years of Amon’s reign had left Judah far away from God. Zephaniah was born to desperate times. It wasn’t as Charles Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was just the worst of times. And these times made Zephaniah desperate for God to move. This begs several questions.
• How desperate are we?
• What is the evidence in our lives that we are desperate? In our praying? In our personal holiness?
• How difficult do things have to get before we get desperate?