2 Do it while there is still time, before all these terrible things happen.
I’m warning you they are beginning to happen;
The day is blown away like chaff. God will not stand by.
Do it before the terrible Eternal’s anger comes down on your head.
Do it soon before the appointed time when His anger rains down over you.
3 Seek the Eternal. Only He can save you, Judah.
Call out to Him, all who realize their lowly places on the earth,
All who are trying to live by His teaching.
Pursue what is just and chase after true humility.
Maybe, just maybe, the Eternal will hide and protect you
from what will happen on that terrible day when His anger is unleashed.
During the early seventh century b.c., Judah is a tiny nation controlled by the Assyrian Empire and bullied by her neighbors. Under former Kings Manasseh and Amon, Judah lost all international power and fell into such hedonism that prophets such as Zephaniah are forced to hide themselves. No one in Judah is safe as Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Egypt (ruled by an Ethiopian dynasty), and Assyria continue seizing land God promised to the Israelites centuries earlier (Genesis 15:18–21). God has frequently used those foreign nations to discipline His children; but they, too, worship other gods and have overstepped the boundaries He set for them. The destruction of these foreign oppressors promises Judah not only revenge but the restoration of the inheritance promised to her people so long ago.
4 As for the Philistine cities off to the west—Gaza will be deserted,
Ashkelon will be left in ashes and ruins,
Ashdod will be scattered to the winds at noon,
and Ekron will be pulled up by its roots.