Chapter three continues Zephaniah’s second section for the first eight verses (2:4 – 3:8). God’s attention turns from the nations back to Israel, specifically to Jerusalem personified. Not only was there general wickedness throughout the population, but Jerusalem was corrupt to the very top. Her princes, judges, prophets, and priests – those who were to represent God to the people and the people to God – abused their power and devastated God’s people (similar to the false shepherd warnings given throughout Ezekiel).
The final section (3:9-20) offers a brief picture of the promised Messianic Kingdom. It will include all world nations, placing them under Messiah’s reign as he rules from Jerusalem (3:9-10). Special blessings promised to the remnant of Israel (vs. 13) include forgiveness of sin (vs. 11), God’s personal presence (vs. 12), physical protection (vs. 15-18), and global respect (vs. 19-20). These same promises are repeated throughout the Jewish prophets, but the spiritual aspect (God’s presence and forgiveness of sin) is exemplified in the primary New Covenant passage, Jeremiah 31:31-34.