“The Lord was very angry with your fathers.” Zechariah, writing this in 520 B.C., was waiting for the reestablishment of the chosen people of God in the Promised Land. After decades of exile, the time was long overdue for the Lord’s covenant people to acknowledge their disobedience and to repent of all known sin. God gave them an invitation: “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” The repetition of God’s title in this simple sentence reinforces the solemn command and the promise attached to it. While God is everywhere (Psalm 139:8), the Lord was assuring His holy remnant that He would respond with blessing to their steps toward greater obedience.
“So they repented and said, As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our words and deeds, so He has dealt with us.” Who gave them their change of heart? We can have no doubt that such a good gift came from above (James 1:17 and Acts 5:31). Yet the fact that the grace of God is always at root in every true spiritual progress that human beings make will not change the truth that the Lord may choose to reward obedience as He sees fit. The Lord would indeed bring comfort and aid to the returning exiles.
God communicated His favor through visions of horses, horns, and craftsmen. Though the detailed interpretations of each part of the story may elude us, the main point was clear: The Almighty would punish those powers once used by Him in disciplining His sheep. The nations of the world were at ease, but their peace would not last forever. What about Israel? The Lord had “comforting and gracious words” for the faithful who listened to Zechariah.
Our Father in heaven sees the enemies of His covenant family in every generation. We may endure a period of discipline for a season, but His gracious commitment toward us will never be overturned. He calls us to a true relationship with Him even during the most challenging moments of divine chastening. The God who sent forth His Son to die for our sins will certainly not abandon us forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of Hosts, You are right to be angry concerning every violation of Your commandments. We must return to You, and You will surely return to us. Grant us the gift of repentance that we would rejoice in You and obey Your precepts. Give us perfect rest in Your Son Jesus Christ. Build up Your Jerusalem through Your great mercy. Bring us prosperity, comfort, and joy, even in this age of suffering. Will we be able to endure the rage of the nations that come against us? Defend Your church, O Lord. Make the ministry of Your Word powerful for the restoration of Your people.