A Call to Return to the Lord
1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “The LORD was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’”
A Vision of a Horseman
On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’ Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘O LORD of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ And the LORD answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”
A Vision of Horns and Craftsmen
And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he said to me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one raised his head. And these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.”
Zechariah 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The future – we consider this very vast uncharted territory from time to time with somberness. Yes, we look toward our future and what our dreams and hopes are. We consider what we’re investing in and if it’s making a difference then make plans to direct ourselves on the course of which we’ll attain the goals we’ve set. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this… usually… as it helps keep us focused. Keeps our eyes on track.
Sadly however, the future spiritually is something we don’t give thought to at times. We’re so busy living our lives, seeking our own desires, God’s is left often in the dust behind.
Zechariah was a prophet who worked with, challenged and ministered to the people who had returned from exile to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Like Haggai, he was there to encourage but his call was far beyond the completing of the rebuild of the temple. It was an encouragement to deal with their own lives, draw near to God personally with all their hearts and minds. Would they do so?
Fascinatingly, there are many apocalyptic images within this book of which Zechariah was given. Much like others who saw into the spiritual world of what went round the people: visions, pictures and symbols abound here, pulling back not only dark prophecies but that which is much darker pressing in on them. Yet as he wrote of these things He also prophesied of the Messiah who would come and rescue His people. There was a King and He would be coming back! Talk about a future to hold onto!
There’s an aspect here I love – and that’s of Zechariah’s name and meaning. “The Lord Remembers” is what his birth name meant – and I love how God chose to use a man, called him to the role of prophet and used his very name as a sign among the people as well toward the message. One last thing to consider as we jump into this book and reflection… Jesus spoke of Zechariah’s martyrdom in Matthew 23 when he was slaughtered between the temple and the altar. Yes, in time the calling Zechariah gave out continually eventually lost him his life. People did not want to consider the ways of God in the end, nor sideline their own future plans for the future of God.
The thought to consider today is Zechariah’s opening words…
“Return to Me,” declares the Lord Almighty, “and I will return to you.” (Zechariah 1:3)
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we probably wish God would just make us return to Him. It would be easier if we were under pressure I think. But He’s never worked that way. God’s desire has been we return to Him on our own accord, our own free will. He prompts us to return but never forces us. As James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
This places things directly in our courts. Do you see that? It was never God who moved away from us, it was us who moved away from Him. His grace continues to reach and extend to His children, but He waits for us to want Him back, want His drive in our life once again. Oh yes, He uses circumstances to do so. And yes, it is not something we can do from our own human will. It is the stirring of the Holy Spirit in our lives that suddenly awakens us from the slumber of our waywardness and a longing of sorts begins.
As God utters even today, “Return to me and I will return to you” what does this stir within your own spirit? Where is God calling you to set aside your own future plans and surrender to His? Where is He speaking to your life and saying, “There’s so much more than what you’ve invested in?” Words to consider. Return to Him. He’s waiting.
Zechariah 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
According to many scholars, Zechariah is the most messianic, apocalyptic, and end times descriptive book of the Old Testament. That’s a big statement considering many have probably never read it. Haggai led the charge to rebuild the temple and Zechariah picked up that torch. Haggai was stronger in his rebuke of the people’s laziness while Zechariah challenged with encouragement. Sprinkled into his writings we will find many references to Christ and the future kingdom.
“The name Zechariah means “Yahweh Remembers.” This powerful phrase communicates a message of hope: the God of Israel will mercifully remember His people. The prophet is identified as “the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo.” Iddo was among the heads of the priestly families that returned from Babylon to Judah. Zechariah, then, was a member of the tribe of Levi and probably served as both a priest and a prophet. He entered his prophetic ministry two months after his contemporary Haggai had concluded his first oracle.”Nelson’s Commentary
He begins with a message of repentance for sins past. He is grieved that the future generations may refuse the voice of God has their fathers did. This is a constant message of the Scriptures. God reaches out to man and man rebels. We know this pattern of behavior led to our sin being laid on the Messiah Jesus Christ once and for all.
He then moves to a vision of a horseman moving about the Earth leading other horses behind him. Our first inclination is to associate these horses and colors with the riders from Revelation 6, however, these horses are not bringing judgment but functioning as observers over the Earth. Just like Satan and his demons prowl about the world looking for someone to devour, God also has His messengers scouring the affairs of humanity.
Zechariah ask the man standing among the myrtle trees for an explanation.
“The myrtle tree is a laurel, which is evergreen and possibly a symbol of the people of Israel. This man is the Angel of the LORD (Zec 1:11), and is no doubt an Old Testament appearance of Jesus before His incarnation in Bethlehem.”David Guzik
We know this was Jesus because verse 10 calls Him a man, verse 11 an angel of the Lord, and verse 13 indicates that He is the LORD.
“There are many examples in the Old Testament of an encounter with a heavenly man known as the Angel of the LORD who is revealed to be God Himself (Gen 16:7-13, Gen 22:11-18, Exo 2:3-9, Jdg 2:1-4, and many other places). Because of Zec 1:11, we know this man is the Angel of the LORD, and that He is God.”David Guzik
The Lord was not pleased with the report. Although it was a report of peace, it was not the right kind of peace. God’s people were in shambles after just returning from captivity. He was upset with all of the nations surrounding them which had brought persecution and suffering. This moving scene shows a powerful characteristic of our God. He loves His children. Though He disciplines them, He does not take pleasure in their suffering. Our Father in heaven is a generous and jealous God who longs to restore his sons and daughters and show His unmatched love and compassion.
God’s emotions are not like ours. He does not allow His emotional state to produce a sinful response because He is without sin. So, when He speaks of His compassion and jealousy, we know that He is more sincere than any human being who would utter those same words. He will deliver on His promise to restore us. He will not abandon us or mistreat us. This is the God we serve! He is jealous for you!