The book of Zechariah begins, “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, ‘The Lord was very angry with your fathers.’” Of Zechariah himself, we know little. Clark writes, “He is described in 1:1 as ‘the son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo’.  In Ezra 5:1 and 6:14 he is called the son of Iddo, but it was not unusual for a generation to be omitted in Hebrew genealogies. A priest named Iddo is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:4 as among those who returned from exile with Zerubbabel and Joshua in 537 b.c. If this man was the grandfather of Zechariah, then Zechariah himself would have been a priest, and this fits well with his interests as shown in his writings. He would also have been a relatively young man in 520 when he began to prophesy. He is probably the same Zechariah who is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:16 as a head of a family in later years.”[1]

The blessings that God promised the Israelites if they obeyed his commands in the book of Deuteronomy were followed by cursings. Although Solomon turned bad by the end of his career, he had a heart for God like his father, David, and reaped the rewards. Israel under Solomon was the greatest kingdom on earth. It was at peace with all the nations for the most part and had gathered great wealth and accomplished great feats and built the temple for God. Those living under Solomon’s reign thrived in the land that God had given them. But then at the end of his life, Solomon turned away from God to worship idols and gather to himself many wives and concubines that drew his heart away from God. Although there were revivals under several kings, the result for both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms was destruction and slavery. This is why Zechariah begins by reminding the people that God was “angry” with their fathers. That’s why they ended up in slavery. But now, according to his promise, God was bringing the Israelites back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and resettle the land. Zechariah is reminding them of what befell their fathers because of their rebellion. Hopefully, the reminder of God’s anger will help motivate them to live well in the land after the exile.

The biblical writers did not balk at attributing “anger” to God. We need to be careful in associating this biblical “anger” of God with our anger. It’s not the same thing. God’s wrath is against the persistent and irreconcilable rebellion. Our anger is an immediate response to some offensive affront. God is long-suffering. Baldwin explains it well. Regarding God’s anger, she writes, “It was the revulsion of his whole being to the rebellion of those whom he had created and resulted in acts of judgment. In the case of the flood all mankind was involved (Gen. 6:5–7), but after that, whenever nations thwarted God’s purpose for man’s salvation, their perversity provoked his anger (Ps. 110:5; Zech. 1:15). Yet it was the privileged nation of Israel that most often became the object of God’s displeasure. The whole career of the chosen nation veered away from God’s purpose, for social injustice, apostasy, and self-seeking became endemic, so that there was no remedy (2 Chr. 36:15, 16). Destruction and exile were the outworking of God’s anger (Isa. 60:10; Jer. 21:5), or rather of the Lord’s anger, for it is in the covenant name that these statements of divine wrath against Israel are made. There is an association between the wrath of God and the historical election covenant, which still stands in spite of all. God’s intention is still salvation, hence Zechariah’s call to repentance. ‘For God has not destined us for wrath’ (1 Thess. 5:9).”[2]

[1] Clark, David J., and Howard A. Hatton. 2002. A Handbook on Zechariah. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Baldwin, Joyce G. 1972. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 28. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.