2:4-7 God the King’s judgment was straightforward for the nation of Philistia in general and for four of its cities in particular. There is a “you will be” edict for each city—abandoned for Gaza, ruin for Ashkelon, driven out for Ashdod (and at noon no less, so they better have their bags packed!), and uprooted for Ekron (2:4). The Philistines, longtime enemies of Israel, would soon be no more: I will destroy you until there is no one left (2:5). Their land would be given to the remnant of God’s people (2:7).
2:13-15 Because Assyria took the ten tribes of the northern kingdom into captivity, they also receive a message of destruction. The Lord sends his message directly to the seat of Assyrian power, the city of Nineveh (2:13). It had thought to itself, I exist, and there is no one else (2:15), but this is God-talk reserved for the Lord alone (see Isa 46:9). When infinite power speaks to finite power, finite power loses the argument.
3:1-7 At this point, Zephaniah returns focus to Jerusalem, the rebellious . . . defiled . . . and oppressive city (3:1). In spite of God’s discipline, they haven’t repented (3:2). Instead, princes, prophets, and priests—all the civil and religious leaders—do harm to the people and know no shame. But the righteous Lord will not tolerate it (3:3-5). Jerusalem’s God had judged wicked nations before her eyes (3:6), which should have made her take notice and fear the Lord. Instead, her people became more corrupt (3:7).
3:8 In the end, God will gather nations and pour out [his] indignation on them, a reminder that a final day of the Lord is coming. The only way to escape his judgment is to trust in him for salvation.