Patterson identifies the Day of the Lord as the primary theme of Zephaniah. He dates it early in Josiah’s reign, at a time where there was much syncretism. Zephaniah writes not just to inform people about God’s future program, but to exhort them to surrender to God, to repent and seek him.
On Zeph 1, Patterson explains that “the Day of the Lord” refers to that time when, for his glory and in accordance with his purposes, God intervenes in human affairs to execute judgment against sin and/or deliver his people. The people of Judah were behaving like pagans. Patterson sees a partial fulfilment of these prophecies in Jerusalem’s fall in 586BC, with other elements being fulfilled in various historical epochs (e.g. A.D. 70). Patterson draws out a challenge for Christians not to sit idly by as a lost world heads towards the day of the Lord.
Zeph 2 includes themes of a godly remnant, of judgment and hope, the seriousness of sin and the sovereignty of God. Much of the fault for the nations disobedience could be accounted to the leadership’s failure to encourage the fear of the Lord (Zeph 3:1-7).
Zeph 3:8-20 is a passage of hope for the remnant – God will deem his people’s punishment completed and bring them happiness as their ultimate good. I was somewhat surprised, and a little disappointed, to note that Patterson passes over Zeph 3:17 with barely any comment – a curious omission considering this is one of the most cherished verses in the Bible. Indeed, his comments on this section are more focused on the “divine shepherd”, but he fails to explain which verse(s) in particular he finds this motif in.
This is, I suppose, both a strength and weakness of the CBC series. It is brief enough to be useful to those without the time or inclination to engage with every exegetical option, and can be relied upon to provide some pertinent observations on the contemporary relevance of the major themes of the passage. However, its brevity means that several potentially fruitful theological avenues will inevitably be left unexplored.