A Plea for Repentance
Open Your Bible
Zechariah 1:1-21, Zechariah 2:1-13, Psalm 35:27-28, Revelation 21:22-27
From beginning to end, the Bible tells the story of God’s redemptive plan. Zechariah’s prophecies anticipate the grand culmination of history, describing a coming glorious king and a world where everything is set right. While Zechariah prophesies judgment for the wicked, his message is filled with hope and glorious promises for God’s people.
Zechariah’s eight visions portend restoration for the righteous and punishment for the unrepentant. At the heart of these prophecies is the promise that the Lord is the one who enables repentance. The message of Zechariah’s first three night visions amounts to one urgent directive: repent.
First, we see an angel (some scholars suggest this is a figure of Christ) standing among the myrtle trees, sending out messengers to do His will, speaking words of comfort and love for God’s people. He promises restoration and mercy, offering an invitation to come back to Him: “Return to me… and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3).
Some people hold up an image of the God of the Old Testament as being angry all the time, but that’s a false image—one that’s quite inconsistent with Scripture as a whole. No matter where we turn in the pages of the Bible, we will find a God who is holy and who hates evil, but simultaneously loves His creation and offers abundant mercy to all who will heed His tender offer. And that’s what we see in Zechariah.
The second vision is of the might of Judah’s oppressors, which appear as horns. But their oppression is short-lived, as craftsmen approach and quickly dismantle their power. The third vision is of a surveyor, measuring the city of Jerusalem, the city of God’s people. Here, we again see God’s abundant mercy and blessing, as God’s people, set free from their captivity, have their dwelling place with God.
If we’d lived in Zechariah’s day, we, too, would have a long list of grievances to call our courage into question. The temple, whose foundations had been laid by the returning Jewish exiles, remained incomplete—a seemingly hopeless, abandoned project. Prophets had come and gone, but their words had made little effect. The people of Judah still did not seem to have a vision for a restored kingdom, and instead intermingled with the world around them.
Have you also looked about and found discouragement in your world? Have you seen a lackluster church or half-hearted believers? Perhaps you have found these same roots of a sluggish faith in your own heart and are discouraged. Here is the good news: Christ, the Lord of Armies, comes to us, riding on a white horse. He has come to unseat the power of the oppressor and to set free the captives. He beckons to the sluggish, Come out of Babylon! (Zechariah 2:7). Christ the Lord of hosts has come to dwell with His people, bringing joy and gladness! (v.10).
Often our great discouragement comes from fixing our eyes on the woes of the world and the trepidations of our heart, rather than fixing our eyes upon Christ. The anger of the Lord of armies is a call to bring us back home. Zechariah reminds us that our vision is to be fixed upon Him alone.