The prophets of the Old Testament all failed in some respects. They were sent by God to call the people from their evil to return to Godly living. But the repentance and conversion of the people never happened for very long. They would always turn back to their old sinful ways. Zechariah takes this line of confrontation from the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 35:15 we read, “ I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me.” So Zechariah 1:4-6 says the same thing, “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’”

Baldwin says, “To sum up Zechariah is making a plea for a wholehearted response to the Lord’s invitation to return to him. All that happened in 587 bc was entirely in accordance with prophetic foretelling. God did not change, nor did the judgment belie his mercy. On exactly the same terms as had been offered to their fathers, young and old alike are invited to return to God. If they will do so the covenant relationship will be renewed, and spiritual restoration will accompany the material restoration of the temple.”[1]

Repentance is the theme of the book of Zechariah. God wants his people to turn from their evil ways and come home. This is the same theme that John the Baptist introduced, and that Jesus preached. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus sai,d “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This was one of Jesus’ favorite subjects. One of the most memorable parables that Jesus told was about the prodigal son. He left his home and his family to live a riotous life in the big city. He found no love and acceptance in the city. So, he tucked his tail between his legs and went home. What was the Father’s response? Luke 15:20-24 tells us, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” There is rejoicing in all of heaven when one sinner repents and comes home to the God that made him!

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