“righteousness.” “Righteousness” can refer to a right standing in the sight of God, being accepted by God, or doing those acts that are “right” and godly in God’s sight and that put one into a right relationship with God. Although both meanings apply here, the fact that the people being addressed in the verse are already humble and obedient to God means that when God tells them to “seek righteousness” and “seek humility,” He is encouraging them to press into being humble and doing “righteous” things, things that are right and godly, especially godly and just things for others. This verse is similar in many respects to Matthew 6:33 in that it encourages people to seek “righteousness,” both vertically to God and horizontally to other people.
[For more on “righteous” referring to things we do that are right, just, and godly, see commentary on Matt. 5:6.]
“It may be that you will be hidden.” It “may be” indicated that there were no promises that any one person would be spared in the wrath. Judah had sinned egregiously and was about to suffer the wrath of God (Zeph. 1:4ff). Yet some people would be “hidden” and not get the full force of God’s anger. God does not say exactly who will be hidden, and the prophet certainly does not, but doing godly, righteous and just things for others would help ensure a person that they might be hidden. Jesus frankly told his disciples that some of them would be killed in the tribulation (Matt. 24:9).