Zechariah 1 | Time to Return to God
1In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:
2“The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.
- A conditional call to repentance at the end of 70 years of exile – Israel has served its time of discipline by the Lord and now He once again extends his hand to redeem them, calling them to repent and return to Him!
- This is very similar in style to James 4:8 and the surrounding verses “Come near to me and I will come near to you” – a call to repentance
4Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? “Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’ ”
- God shows that his word has outlasted his people, that it endures forever whereas his people do not
- Ultimately our sin finds us out and proves us wrong, so that all we can exclaim is ‘we have received what our practises deserved’.
- Rather than departing from the word of God in all times and seasons, we must ask where we must return to him – where has the church gone astray?
7On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.
8During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.
- Myrtle trees in a ravine pictures a pleasant place to be and so representative of the peace and rest that other nations felt at that time.
- Red, brown and whites horses as also pictured in Revelation symbolise God’s wrath and judgment, his war on evil
- So we have a mixed imagery here, and this is how God is going to respond to the nations that feel at rest and at peace
9I asked, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.” 10Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.”
11And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”
- Rest and peace are good things, but if they are without God then he will certainly disturb this rest and peace!
- We are not to trust on our own strength and understanding but on God’s
- Just as with Babel as man tried to succeed on his own and bring about his own blessing and prosperity, so our efforts to make humanity supreme in the world and to achieve utopia apart from God, will be thwarted by God
12Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
- This shows great empathy of the angel of the Lord for God’s people, beckoning to God to show them mercy
- And what it more is that God speaks kind and comforting words to the angel who is concerned for God’s people – this gives us a little window into the reality of the heavenly realm, that there is dialogue, love, empathy, kindness and comfort
14Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’
- God is jealous for his own people and greatly desires to be their God and to dwell in harmony with them
- God is also angry with the nations that feel secure in their own strength and power, who do not recognise the Lord as God
16“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
- Measuring line – God is going to get his taper measure out and start rebuilding a kingdom for his people – though we will see from chapter 2 that this will not be in the world as it is
17“Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’ ”
- God is going to turn this situation on its head. The nations that God used to discipline the Israelites, he is now going to respond with judgment. Those that were at peace his is going to humble, and those that were humbled he is going to bring peace
- This shows the deep bond and love that God has with his people – that even though they were rebellious and disobedient he is very jealous for them and is angry at the nations that punished them harshly.
- God is going to bring his people back, he is going to rebuild them and there dwelling place and will bless his people with prosperity
18Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”
- God is going to raise up other nations and powers to punish the empires that scattered his people
- God can use whoever he wants for whatever purpose, but if we start to exalt ourselves in his presence or over humanity then we will be sure to be brought low!
We find the Israelites at the end of their exile in Babylon and God’s call to them was what it had been for generations ‘return to me, and I will return to you’. God is now going to turn the tables, bring back his people and pronounce judgment on the nations that feel secure in their own strength.