The Day of the Lord in Zephaniah -- By: Greg A. King

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 152:605 (Jan 1995)
Article: The Day of the Lord in Zephaniah
Author: Greg A. King

The Day of the Lord in Zephaniah

Greg A. King

[Greg A. King is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California.]

Recent scholarship has suggested that the time is ripe for a reassessment of the day of the Lord, a concept that is prominent in the prophetic books. Several factors invite this reassessment. First, to this writer’s knowledge no major systematic study of the day of the Lord texts has been made in recent years.1 Second, some previous attempts to elucidate what the prophets wrote about this significant concept incorrectly restricted their investigation to the precise phrase, “the day of the Lord.”2 Scholars now recognize that many similar phrases, especially the phrase “on that day,” also refer to the day of the Lord and must be considered if this concept is to be understood fully.3 Third, some past studies have tended to minimize the blessing or salvific aspect of the day of the Lord and have understood the day simply as the Lord’s holy war against His enemies. This is unfortunate because many occurrences of “the day of the Lord” and related expressions refer to a future time of blessing and salvation.4

This article on Zephaniah’s proclamation of the day of the Lord is one contribution toward a reassessment of this concept. Zephaniah is a worthwhile book on which to focus because this frequently ignored book makes an important contribution to this topic in Old Testament theology. As von Rad states, “Zephaniah’s prophecy concerning the day of Yahweh is certainly one of the most important sources of material at our disposal for the various concepts connected with this subject.”5

This delineation is based on the exegesis and theological assessment of the entire Book of Zephaniah. This methodology is in harmony with what was mentioned above about the recent recognition of the importance of considering the full range of what could be called day of the Lord terminology. Though the exact expression “the day of the Lord” (יוֹם יְהוָה) appears only three times in Zephaniah (once in 1:7 and twice in 1:14), a careful analysis of the context of the many other verses where the word “day” is used leaves little doubt that they refer to the same concept. For example in chapter 1 phrases like “the day of Yahweh’s ...

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