God’s Word for You
Zechariah 1:1-2 The LORD was angry with your forefathers
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, June 6, 2022
Zechariah is one of the most popular names in the Old Testament, a name for perhaps 29 different people listed in the Scriptures. The author of our book may have been a priest, but he does not specifically say this, and we should be careful not to assume that the Iddo and Zechariah in Nehemiah 12:16 are the same same grandfather and grandson as we find here. Zechariah’s father Berekiah is not given the same attention as Iddo the grandfather. Perhaps he died in the exile, or perhaps the more prominent ancestor, Iddo, was the one everyone remembered.
Zechariah contains visions and oracles (visions or messages of special burden). This book is regarded by many as obscure and difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Many Christians know it primarily for its prophecy of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Zechariah 9:9). But even a book with such strange scenes as Zechariah really points simply and directly to Christ. Anyone can read this book for their benefit if they keep these two things in mind:
1, Zechariah was preaching repentance to God’s people.
2, Zechariah was looking ahead to the coming of Christ and was given visions about the suffering of Jesus our Savior.
Zechariah seems to have been a younger contemporary of Haggai. Zechariah may also have been a priest, but he was called to support Haggai’s message to rebuild the temple using the preaching of law and gospel to condemn the complacent sinners and to soothe the consciences of repentant believers.
A brief outline:
A, The First Message
1, The returned exiles should repent sincerely (Zechariah 1:1-6)
2, Blessings received and blessings to come (Zechariah 1:7-6:8)
3, The Branch (Zechariah 6:9-15)
B, The Second Message
1, False Religion (Zechariah 7:1-7)
2, Hard Hearts (Zechariah 7:8-14)
3, True fasting and true worship (Zechariah 8)
A, Kings will be destroyed (Zechariah 9:1-9)
B, The King will come (Zechariah 9:9-17)
C, A curse on the shepherds (Zechariah 10:1-11:3)
D, The Shepherd and his two staffs (Zechariah 11:4-17)
E, Strength (Zechariah 12:1-9)
F, Mourning (Zechariah 12:10-14)
G, The Shepherd struck, the sheep scattered (Zechariah 13:1-9)
H, The Lord Comes (Zechariah 14:1-21)
The focus on Christ throughout the book is something to keep in mind. These points and others are emphasized by the prophet:
- Christ came in lowliness (Zechariah 6:12)
- Christ’s humanity (Zechariah 6:12, 13:7)
- Christ’s rejection for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13)
- Christ the firstborn son will be pierced for our sins (Zechariah 12:10)
- Christ struck by the sword of the Lord (Zechariah 13:7)
- Christ will cleanse the world from all sin and impurity (Zechariah 13:1)
- Christ’s priesthood (Zechariah 6:13)
- Christ’s kingship (Zechariah 6:13, 9:9, 14:9,16)
- Christ’s reign (Zechariah 9:10,14)
- Christ will enter the gates in glory (Palm Sunday, Zechariah 9:9)
- Christ will build the holy temple (Zechariah 6:12-13)
- Christ will establish enduring peace (Zechariah 3:10, 9:9-10)
- Christ will give prosperous life in heaven (Zechariah 3:10, 9:17)
- Salvation will come through Christ (Zechariah 8:13, 9:16, 10:6, 12:7-8)
- The final coming of Christ is a day unknown to all (Zechariah 14:7)
Both Haggai and Zechariah give precise dates for their visions. Since the dates for new moons is known, it’s possible to produce an accurate calendar of their ministries:
Aug 29, 520 Haggai 1:1
Sept 21, 520 Haggai 1:15
Oct 17, 520 Haggai 2:1
Oct-Nov, 520 Zechariah 1:1
Dec 18, 520 Haggai 2:10,20
Feb 15, 519 Zechariah 1:7
Dec 7, 518 Zechariah 7:1
1 In 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 forefathers.
Seven weeks had passed since Haggai’s first message from the Lord, a message to rebuild God’s temple. In that time, from the 29th of August to the 17th of October, three messages from the Lord came through the preaching of Haggai. These messages came to a climax with God’s urgent: “Be strong… and work, for I am with you” (Haggai 2:4). Now, just a little later, in late October or early November of the same year, another prophet, Zechariah, probably quite a bit younger than Haggai, was given a message from God to support that message.
In the days of Moses, there was not much need for a second prophet since Moses’ brother Aaron was the first high priest. Later, prophets generally came alone or sometimes in pairs (Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Micah). Sometimes one prophet’s message would be taken up a while later by another man, the way Nahum preached against Nineveh a generation after Jonah had gone there (Jonah 1:2, 3:2; Nahum 1:1, 3:7). In this case, Haggai and Zechariah preached at the same time, taking turns, but always supporting each another’s messages.
Zechariah is careful to give the date, in part so that we will know that these things were historical events, just as the Savior’s birth, death, and resurrection were historical events. Ours is not a religion based on myths, but on facts. The king was Darius. After Cyrus sent the exiles home (Ezra 1:1-3), he was followed on the throne by two short-lived kings, Cambyses and Smerdis. After them came Darius, the king of our text, and in his second year (520 BC), these messages were given to the prophets.
Zechariah begins by preaching the law: “The Lord was very angry with your forefathers.” This is what caused the Babylonian exile. The people of Judah “mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of God was aroused against his people, and there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16). In this case, the prophet shows the people their sins by reminding them of the punishment they had endured for so many years and decades. Would they tumble back into sin so quickly? Did they imagine that God could not haul them right back to Babylon, or some even more distant place, in the batting of an eyelash?
Luther describes this form of law-preaching as “the way one shows a child the rod with which he has been whipped before to try to induce him to be better in the future. It is as if the prophet were commissioned to say: ‘You see how angry the Lord was with your fathers and how severely he punished them for their disobedience. Be careful therefore and take heed that you do not follow their example… or else the rod and punishment will not be long in coming’” (LW 20:161).
When the Lord exposes our sins, he invites us to repent and to turn back to him in faith. His words may be harsh, as they were here through Zechariah, or they might be patient (“Where is your brother Abel?” Genesis 4:9). The Lord calls us and calls us to turn aside from our sins, to turn away from the temptations that plague us, and to put our trust in our loving God. He knows our needs. He knows that there are times when we are “harassed at every turn, with conflicts on the outside and fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). But he will fill us up with everything we need to serve him with joy, with energy, and with all our hearts.
Pastor Timothy Smith