The book of Zephaniah is one of those hidden treasures in the Old Testament. Though it is a small book of only three chapters, it is rich with meaning both for its original readers and for us today.
Now, at first glance, you might think that this prophetic book simply chronicles a critical moment in Israel’s history and, in part, that is true. The book of Zephaniah was written by the prophet Zephaniah during the reign of King Josiah around 630 BC. Though King Josiah would eventually lead a great revival in the Kingdom of Judah eighteen years after this book was written, initially he and his people (the people of God) were living in evil. In the wake of one of Judah’s worst kings, King Manasseh, the land was rampant with idol worship and injustices, making it also look no different from the surrounding pagan nations, including the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Ethiopians and the Assyrians. In this book, God speaks through the prophet Zephaniah, calling Judah to repent as well as foretelling the imminent judgment and destruction of the other nations.
However, like the other prophetic books of the Old Testament – major and minor – there is much more going on in Zephaniah than meets the eye. Indeed, this prophetic book is filled with types and shadows, whose purpose is to link what’s happening at that moment in history with something to come in the future. But before moving forward, let us give a brief definition of what we mean by types. Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial thing in the Old Testament is called the type and the new thing is what it stands for in the New Testament. In other words, the Old Testament type is but a shadow of the real thing to come.
So what are these types and shadows in Zephaniah? How are they fulfilled in the New Testament? Finally, what is the dual significance of these types and shadows both for the original readers and for us today? Join us this week and find out!