A Chinese proverb says that the darkest spot in the room is located right under the candle.
This proverb could be applied to the moral state of Jerusalem in Zephaniah’s time. The prophet just has completed the pronouncement of divine judgments on Judah’s neighboring countries (see Zephaniah 2) such as Philistia in the west, Moab and Ammon in the east, Cush in the south, and Assyria in the east. Yet, he does not stop there. He proceeds to expose the sins of those who dwell in God’s own city on earth, Jerusalem itself.
Read Zephaniah 3:1-5. Who is being condemned, and why? Ask yourself, How could God’s people, those given so much light and truth, end up so corrupted? How can we protect ourselves from having the same thing happen to us?
The capital city of Judah lies at the heart of Zephaniah’s concern. He indicts its leaders concerning the city’s moral degradation. The corruption stems directly from the failure of its leaders to live up to their designated roles and responsibilities (compare with Jer. 18:18, Ezek. 22:23-30). The corrupt court run by officials is likened to “roaring lions,” and the judges are characterized as “evening wolves.” The temple is faring no better because the priests do not teach God’s Word, nor do the prophets speak the truth.
“During the reign of Josiah the word of the Lord came to Zephaniah, specifying plainly the results of continued apostasy,and calling the attention of the true church to the glorious prospect beyond. His prophecies of impending judgment upon Judah apply with equal force to the judgments that are to fall upon an impenitent world at the time of the second advent of Christ.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 389.
Look around. However alluring, the world is doomed to ultimate destruction. One even does not need to believe in the Bible to see how easily this destruction could happen. Why is the Lord our only hope, and how can we learn to lean on Him more and more and not trust in the vain and empty things of this world?