1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 “The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. 3 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.
The first six chapters comprise eight visions, and they date as the same period of Ezra 4:24-6:13. These visions present a panoramic view of God’s plan from the time of Zechariah to the end of time.
The first six verses present the introduction to Zechariah. It is a call to repentance. Repentance is the condition for restoration of God’s blessing upon Israel. The question for the returning Jews was whether they would continue the sins of their forefathers or repent of the sins that led them into captivity.
In the eighth month of the second year of Darius,
The “eighth month” was October of 520 BC. The date referenced the reign of Persian King Darius I Hystaspes. There is no reference to an Israel king because none sat on the throne after the exile.
Darius I was famous because of the Behistun Inscription carved on the side of a mountain. This inscription enabled scholars to decipher the Akkadian language, the langue of Assyria and Babylonia. This cuneiform script is wedge-shaped writing. It tells of his significant accomplishments and ability to bring peace to a fractured empire.
The word of the Lord [Jehovah]
The phrase “the word of the LORD” is a technical concept for prophetic revelation. This phrase calls attention to the fact that these are the words of Jehovah, not Zechariah. The prophet obtained his message directly from God.
Came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
Zechariah’s father died young, and his grandfather Iddo raised him. He was both a prophet and priest. Verse 1 validates his authority to proclaim the Word of God to postexilic Judah.
“The Lord has been very angry [literally, angry with anger] with your fathers.
The “fathers” here were the preexilic forefathers of Israel. God’s extreme anger expressed itself in sending Judah into captivity in Babylon. The repetition of “anger” in Hebrew is a cognate accusative stressing extensive anger.
Therefore say to them,
God had a new and challenging message for the Jews returning from Babylon.
‘Thus says the Lord of hosts [Jehovah of armies]:
God conditions His blessing in response to His Word.
The threefold repetition of “the LORD of hosts” emphasizes the divine imperative to “return” to Him, to fellowship with His person. The implication of God’s name is the God of infinite resources and universal power.
“Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts,
The heart of the message of Zechariah was for the Jews to “return” to Jehovah, who is the God of armies. The LORD wanted His people’s fellowship again, not a rigid, formal allegiance.
“and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.
The statement “I will return to you” is a declaration of God’s grace. His promise to the contemporaries of Zechariah was that He would restore His relationship with the Jews if they would “return” to Him. Complete repentance brings divine blessing. It forms the background for hope.
Enjoyment of God’s blessing is prefaced by authentic repentance.
God promises blessing to those who wholeheartedly repent of violating His character. If we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us (Jas 4:8). God continuously extends His grace to sinners.
The invitation to repent is God extending His grace to those who violate Him. God has promised to bless believers, but the enjoyment of those blessings depends on the appropriation of God’s promises. There is a tendency to neglect God’s grace, but we will enter a dry phase of our spirituality when we do.
The prerequisite for blessing is for the believer to confess his sin and embrace fellowship with God again. This does not imply that restoration rests on our merit. God forgives because of His grace, not due to our works.
People today make God a doting grandfather permissive with His grandchildren. This is an abuse of the phrase “God is love.” God is love, but He is also just (He 12:29). It is important not to divorce God’s grace from human responsibility.