In this section Zephaniah continues his message of judgement intermingled with hope. The judgement will fall on Judah, if she does on repent, as well as on the surrounding nations. Therefore he begins with a call to Judah to repent before the judgement arrives (2:1-3).
He also has words of advice for the godly in Judah: they are to engage in seeking, which suggests energy, the Lord in the paths of righteousness and humility. Protection cannot be guaranteed for them, but God may decide to give it to them when the enemy army invades.
The prophet has words of judgement about other nations. he begins with those near to Israel. The first he speaks about are the Philistines. They will experience divine judgement and go into exile (vv. 4-7). But they will not find a way back to their cities. Instead the territory will become part of the restored and enlarged country of Israel.
God will also judge the Moabites and the Ammonites for their pride and their hatred of God"s people. They also will go into exile and disappear and their land too will become part of the restored national territory of Israel (vv. 8-11).
God also pronounces judgements on nations that were far away from Canaan. The Cushites lived south of Egypt and their judgement would be defeat in battle (v. 12), Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire, which seemed so dominant and secure, would become a ruin (vv. 13-15).
The obvious lessons for Judah from these predictions is that they should trust in the Lord because he has sovereign control of all events. They should have been doing so long before they heard these particular predictions. Yet the prophet makes clear that they had not trusted in the Lord (3:1-8). Her civil and religious leaders were marked by sinful actions. The people ignored the fact that God dwelt among them in a special way and they paid no attention to his providential activities. Therefore they too would go into exile.
This is a reminder that unfaithfulness by God's people results in divine judgement. Yet unlike the other nations they had hope of recovery and Zephaniah will describe it in the next section.