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Habakkuk and Zephaniah Overview

The theme of the Minor Prophets is judgment for sin, call to repentance, hope of future restoration. Those things feature again in the two 3 chapter books we look at tonight!

Habakkuk is the 35th book of the Old Testament and Bible.  

An unusual book, more like a poetic book than a prophetic book.

It records a dialogue between the prophet and God rather than a message from God through the prophet.

Habakkuk teaches us to trust God even when God-allowed circumstances seem unfair

At first, Habakkuk questions God about injustice among His people.

God responds that He is about to send the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to judge His people! That really has Habakkuk questioning!

Habakkuk doesn’t understand, but trusts God anyway!     2:5

Four times in 2:9-20 God declares woe on Babylon, letting Habakkuk know that the instrument of judgment on a Judah that deserves judgment will itself be judged for its sins.           WOW!

Habakkuk may have been the final voice of God to Judah before the Babylonian captivity (as Hosea was to Israel).

Habakkuk’s name means “embracer.”

Probably wrote between 625 and 605 B.C. Like his contemporaries Jeremiah and Zephaniah, he warned of approaching judgment at the hands of the Babylonians.


A perplexed prophet                          Chapters 1-2

A praying and praising prophet       Chapter 3

Key verse:

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by faith.                -Habakkuk 2:4

Quoted 3 important times in the New Testament – Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38

A Closer look at the Book of Habakkuk:

1:1     The NKJV has the word burden. It is the word oracle.

First question and answer:

1:2     How long, Lord?

1:5     Look at the nations and observe!

1:6     I am raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians)

1:7     What an intriguing verse:

Their views of justice and sovereignty stem from themselves

Second question and answer

1:12   Are you not from eternity, Yahweh, my God?

Question: You appointed them to execute judgment (on us)?

1:13   Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous?

2:4     The righteous one will live by his faith!

Quoted 3 times in NT: Gal. 3:11; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38



2:6     Woe to him who amasses what is not his

2:9     Woe to him who unjustly gains wealth for his house to place his nest on high

2:12   Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with injustice

2:14   For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory, as the waters cover the sea.

2:15   Woe to him who gives his neighbor drink…in order to look at their nakedness

2:19   Woe to him who says to wood: Wake up! Or to mute stone: Come alive! Can it teach?

2:20   But the Lord is His holy temple, let everyone on earth be silent in His presence


3:1     Intended to be sung, like a psalm

3:2     Lord I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of your deeds. Revive your work in these years; make it known in these years. In your wrath remember mercy!

3:3     God comes from Temen, the Holy One from Mount Paran

His splendor covers the Heavens, and the earth is full of His praise…

He is coming in judgment!

See His hand in judgment, even when it’s from a “heathen people”

The tents of Cushan are in distress

The tent curtains of Midian tremble

3:12-13       You march across the earth with indignation; You trample down the nations in wrath. You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed.

3:17   Though the fig tree does not bud, and there is no fruit on the vines

          Though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food

          Though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls


For the choir director, on stringed instruments!   


Zephaniah is the 36th book of the Old Testament and Bible.

A coming day of the Lord promises judgment

Written approximately 635-625 B.C. during Josiah’s reign

At age 20, Josiah began a six-year program of national reform.

The sins that Zephaniah points out are the same sins Josiah is seen repenting of!

Though some wicked practices introduced by King Manasseh were stopped by Josiah, even the revival did not bring about any deeper change in Judah.

Zephaniah declares the coming judgment of the Lord.

Zephaniah’s name means, “Protected of the Lord.”

He was the great great grandson of the godly king, Hezekiah.

That would make him a distant relative of King Josiah.

Contemporary of Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Nahum. 

Zephaniah’s theme is “the Day of the Lord,” a time of grief and pain for those who reject the Lord, but of blessing and praise for those who receive Him and love Him!

Compare with 2 Peter 3:10-14


Judgment in the Day of the Lord      1:1-3:8

Salvation in the Day of the Lord       3:9-20

A Closer look at the Book of Zephaniah:

1:1     Zephaniah began prophesying during the reign of Josiah, same as Jeremiah!

1:2     I will completely sweep away everything from the face of the earth –

          This is the Lord’s declaration.             COUNT ON IT!

1:3     I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth.

1:4     I will stretch out my hand against Judah and the residents of Jerusalem

I will cut off every vestige of Baal!

1:5     And those who pledge loyalty to Yahweh but also Milcom

1:7     Be silent in the presence of the Lord God, for the Day of the Lord is near.

1:14   The great Day of the Lord is near, near and rapidly approaching.

1:15   That day is a day of wrath.

1:18   Their silver and their gold will not be able to rescue them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.

2:1-3 The message of hope

Gather yourselves together before the decree takes effect. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who carry out what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be concealed on the day of the Lord’s anger.

2:4     Places in trouble:

Gaza; Ashkelon; Ashdod; Ekron (Philistine cities)

Inhabitants of the seacoast (Cherethites)

Canaan, land of the Philistines

Moab & Ammonites will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

2:11   God will judge; people will worship Him

Cushites; Assyria; Nineveh

3:1     Woe to Jerusalem

3:2     She has not obeyed, she has not accepted discipline. She has not trusted in the Lord; she has not drawn near to her God.

3:7-8  I thought: you will certainly fear Me and accept correction.

However, they became more corrupt in their actions.

The whole earth will be consumed by the fire of My jealousy.

3:9     For I will then restore…

So that all of them may call on the name of Yahweh and serve Him with a single purpose.

3:10   My people will come from beyond the rivers of Cush

3:12   I will leave a meek and humble people among you, and they will trust in the name of Yahweh.

3:14-20       Alludes to the promises being made to Abraham and David being fulfilled!

3:14-15        Sing for joy, Daughter Zion! The Lord has removed your punishment!

The King of Israel, the Lord, is among you!

3:16-17       On that day it will be said to Jerusalem, “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

3:20   I will bring you back, I will gather you.

I will make you famous and praiseworthy among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes. Yahweh has spoken!