Zechariah is all about God’s love for his people. It begins with a call for them to come home, or return to Him, and He will return to them. The same call of course is extended to all prodigals everywhere. Many translations use “jealousy” instead of “love” as the description of God’s attitude toward His people. There are connotations associated with that word that make it inappropriate. Understood correctly we might agree. We think of jealousy as an inappropriate craving for something or someone and bad feelings towards those who have what we want. The bible makes it clear that we are not to “covet our neighbors goods or wives.” But that’s not what’s meant here. Jealousy is the pain we feel when the affections of someone who are rightfully obligated to us are placed on someone else. We fear that our children or spouses will be lured away by some other entity to their harm, because they may seem more attractive or more interesting. We all know those painful feelings of betrayal but none know them more that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies” is the most frequently repeated term in the post exilic prophets for God. It’s sometimes translated as the “Lord of Hosts.” It means all power & all control is in His command. The roll of the dice is His to determine. The success & failure of all our deeds is in His hands. He determines the rain fall, crops, the weather, wealth, health, happiness, peace, joy, the nations and everything else in the world. He is our creator and the one to whom we truly owe our allegiance. He made this the first commandment in the big 10. “I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other god’s before me.” When we break that commandment, God is rightfully jealous, and it is called sin.

No one likes the term “sin” anymore. It sounds too religious and too pompous to the world. But the truth is, sin is the best news there is, because with sin, there’s a way out. You can’t repent of confusion or psychological flaws inflicted by your parents—you’re stuck with them. But you can repent of sin. Sin and repentance are the only grounds for hope and joy, the grounds for reconciled, joyful relationships.

“Then the Angel said to me, shout this message for all to hear: This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘return to me, and I will return to you.’” Zechariah 1:3