Zechariah Chapter 1:1-6
A Call to Repentance
This book is, like all the word of God, wonderful! David Baron wrote the definitive study of this book in 1918, and I will be using it as the basis for this study. Why study this book? #1 It has a clear testimony of Jesus Christ. #2 It throws very clear light on the events of the last times preceeding the great and terrible “Day of the Lord.”
Zechariah means, he whom Jehovah remembers. He is a prophet/priest. His grandfather is mentioned prominently, leaving one to think that his father died young. He, himself is a youth, being described with the same word used for David when he was going out to fight Goliath.
Historically, Haggai was alongside in the early part of his ministry encouraging the people to get back to the outward task of rebuilding the Temple. Zechariah’s call was to lead the people to a complete spiritual change, which would lead to the fruit of increased zeal in the building of the Temple. He witnessed the completion of the Temple four years later. The exiles had returned and worked to get the altar and the sacrifices going, but when it came to the Temple they suffered from carelessness and indifference.
The Prophet’s Introductory Address
Zech. 1:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying, 2 “The Lord was very angry with your fathers. 3 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. 4 “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me,” declares the Lord. 5 “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.’”’” NASB
A Call to Return to the Lord
1 In November of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the Lord gave this message to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah and grandson of Iddo:
2 “I, the Lord, was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’ 4 Don’t be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Turn from your evil ways, and stop all your evil practices.’ 5 “Where are your ancestors now? They and the prophets are long dead. 6 But everything I said through my servants the prophets happened to your ancestors, just as I said. As a result, they repented and said, ‘We have received what we deserved from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. He has done what he said he would do.’” New Living Translation
Verse 2 - “The Lord was very angry with your fathers.” That was an undeniable fact. The desolations in the land, the 70 years of captivity, the proof was right there.
Verse 3 - “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.” Repeating His name the Lord emphasizes His divine authority and certainty of His offer. He is waiting to be gracious to them. He delights in mercy.
Verse 4 - “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me,” declares the Lord.” The gracious invitation is followed by a warning. If you walk in the same disobedience as your fathers, you will incur the same displeasure of God and punishment.
“The mission of the prophets was comprehensive and many-sided; they spoke to all times, making known to the children of men the counsels of the Eternal. They spoke from the mouth of the Omniscient God, foretelling things to come’ but to the current generations in which they lived they were chiefly preachers of righteousness, and their constant cry was , “repent.” David Baron
This cry for repentance was the keynote in the preaching of all the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles. Why wander from the source of life and blessings? But alas, both Israel and mankind have lent but a deaf ear, and so the lament of God, “but they did not listen .. to Me.” Alongside of the call of the prophets to repent is the even louder cry of those who say, “Peace, Peace.” We are the sons of Abraham, we are God’s favored nation, away with this disturber of the peace. This is the theme of false prophets.
Man is radically wrong, his natural course leads to death. True prophets and genuine friends of man cry, “Turn, repent.” False prophets tell corrupt sinful men that they are themselves potentially Christs, who need only develop “the good that is in them, “ and who still cry “peace, peace.” Man’s true condition is apostate from God, with his face turned away from the fountain of light and life. Man’s greatest need is to forsake not only his outward ways, but also his thoughts and to return to the Lord. At the cost of the sacrifice of His Son, God has devised a means for reconciliation. He cries for us to return, and He makes the way for that return.
Verse 5 - “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?” What success did your fathers have in resisting Me? Learn from them. They spent their days in wretchedness and exile. Then the people respond, “And the prophets, do they live forever?” This is an impudent response, sort of like, ‘What good did it do them?’
Verse 6 - “But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.”
“Oh that men would learn to distinguish between the frailty and weakness of the best of God’s messengers and the eternal character and unfailing veracity of His message! The prophets are no more, but the words which those holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost are still with us, verifying themselves, and in spite of man’s unbelief accomplishing, whether in judgment or in mercy, that whereunto they were sent.
Oh, that men would take warning from the past history of Israel, and note the faithfulness of God in carrying out His threatenings as well as His promises!
Oh, that you would be wise and “give glory to Jehovah your God before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness” (Jer. 13:15-17) David Baron
As a way of “getting out of” God’s requirements people will focus on the faults of the messenger. If the words were truly God’s words they will ‘overtake’ the people and they will suffer the consequences of disobedience. In the end God’s word will stand, so it behooves us to study it.