RETURN TO ME AND I WILL RETURN TO YOU... In the 6th century BC, Zechariah proclaimed God's Word to the religious folks of his day. 2700 years later, the same Word is being declared to 21st century Christians. We still don’t want to hear it any more than the people of ancient Judah did. But thank God, here it is, still just as applicable as ever... still the word of the Lord for His people!
Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah.”
On our 2019 Gregorian calendar, today is the 6th day of the 8th month on God's Calendar. Ancient Rabbis believed this was the month appointed for Messiah to come and begin rebuilding His temple on earth. However, 1 Corinthians 3:16 gives us an accurate picture of the spiritual temple building already in progress. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?” Perhaps this is the month anointed by the Holy Spirit to come in with a wrecking ball into our spiritual lives, leveling our religious pride and hypocrisy through the power of His Living Word.
Zechariah 1: 2-6: “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore 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. Do 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. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?”
The introduction in verse 2 commands our attention: “The LORD was very angry with your ancestors.”
Around 2000 BC, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through him, and to give him the land of Canaan forever. (Gen 12-15) Abraham’s descendants were later sealed with the national namesake of “Israel”, the God-given name for Jacob, grandson of Abraham.
After spending generations in Egyptian bondage, the Israelites were freed by God Almighty through the Passover Lamb, whose sacrificial blood guaranteed their deliverance and survival. The twelve tribes of the nation of Israel, with the namesakes of the sons of Jacob, traversed the desert regions for 40 years in search of the Promised Land designated by God for His chosen people.
Led by God’s appointed judges for 350 years, the nation began its decline by placing their faith in the mindset of the world for leadership. "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations." 1 Samuel 8:5. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2519553821458125
By 920 BC, Israel had split into 2 kingdoms: the North and the South. (Sound familiar?) The 10 northern tribes, continuing with the namesake Israel, set up their own worship in Samaria. A remnant from the 10 northern tribes joined the 2 southern tribes, and they become known as Judah, worshipping the Lord from Jerusalem.
Soon both kingdoms were “doing their own thing”, even as they claimed to worship God. Around 720 BC, the 10 northern tribes were taken into captivity by Assyria, and scattered across the isles, never mentioned again as a nation. 150 years later, the southern kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.
Eventually, Judah was allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed city and Solomon’s Temple. Today, descendants of Israel bear the name “Jew”, because they descend from the southern tribe of Judah. Amazingly, Israel is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, has the same name, speaks the same language, and worships one God just as it did 3,000 years ago.
It was during the time of the exiles return to Jerusalem that Zechariah arrived on the scene. Zechariah, whose name means “God has remembered”, was not just a prophet for the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Zechariah’s prophecies are repeated in the New Testament 41 times. Indeed, Zechariah even foretells Christ’s coming with great accuracy. He speaks of Jesus coming in lowliness (6:12); the humanity of Christ (6:12, 13:7); His betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (11:12-13); the crucifixion of Jesus (by the "sword" of the Lord) (13:7); His priesthood (6:13) and kingship (6:13, 9:9, 14:9,16); the future return of Jesus Christ (14:4); His building the Lord's temple (6:12-13); the reign of King Jesus (9:10) the establishment of enduring peace and prosperity by Jesus Christ (3:10, 9:9-10).
When we read “The LORD was very angry with your ancestors” it should be received as warning to all Christians across all centuries. God has sent prophets down through millennia to warn His people that He will deal harshly with those who call on His name, but also bow to the ways of the world.
Yes, prophets like Zechariah have warned us. Even the disciples have appealed to us to “be holy as God is holy”. And most importantly, Jesus, the Son of God, gave this stern warning: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mark 1:14 & Matthew 4:17.
The phrase “Lord Almighty” appears three times in this focal passage of Zechariah 1:1-6. If you look at other translations like the KJV “Lord of the hosts” and the NLT “Lord of Heavens’ Armies”, we get an idea that we are talking about a great and mighty Lord Warrior speaking here. In fact, “Lord Almighty” is used 50 more times in the book of Zechariah.
Zechariah definitely speaks of a great world war in the last day. He also prophesies many events on the earth bringing it to the brink of destruction. Many Christians today see prophetic descriptions of nuclear bombs detonating and Israel again being brought to her knees. In the end, the Lord Almighty says this. “Not by might, but by my power.” Zechariah 4:6.
Today, Zechariah's words are not received any better than they were 2700 years ago. Not only was he politically incorrect with the governing nation of Babylon, his words also had all of Judah up-in-arms. Some historical accounts say He stirred up so much trouble with the religious folks that they eventually killed him by bashing his head in with a rock. But it wasn’t too long before they were reminded that a true prophet had been sent by God to warn them.
“Then they repented and said, ‘The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’” Zechariah 1:6.
RETURN TO ME...AND I WILL RETURN TO YOU.