1. A Call to the Drifter to Return to the Lord
Returning to the Lord after drifting results in experiencing His blessing.
”1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: 2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?” Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.” – Zechariah 1:1-6
(Series Introduction), v 1
I. Returning From Drifting Because of Gods Wrath, v 2
II. Return From Drifting and Experience Gods Grace, v 3
III. Return from Drifting as Gods People Have Done Before, vv 4-6
Quick Thought: The Nicknames and Names of Zechariah
The book of Zechariah has been given a number of nicknames; here are two. Do you know any others?
1. “The Prophet of Hope”
Zechariah has been called the prophet of hope because his message is filled with the encouragement for returning drifters that God will keep His promises to His people, especially His promises regarding the Messiah. Did you know that Zechariah has more Messianic prophecy than all of the other Minor Prophets combined, and he is second only to Isaiah in the number of references to Christ? The New Testament cites or alludes to Zechariah at least 41 times. His message is that even though God’s chosen people had been scattered among the nations because of their disobedience, God still loved them, and His purpose for them would still be accomplished.
2. “Revelation of the Old Testament”
Zechariah has been called the Revelation of the Old Testament and the reason is probably that chapters 9-14 consists of a number of Messianic prophecies that reveal the importance of the rebuilt temple, since Messiah will come to this temple and how even though powerful nations will arise and threaten God’s people, His prophetic plan of the ages will be carried out. Like Revelation, it is a difficult book to interpret. But the overall message is plain: It is an encouragement to God’s discouraged and frightened people to walk in reality with Him because He will keep His covenant promises.
3. Three “Names to Remember” the Message of the Book
You can remember the theme of the book if you will jot down the Hebrew meanings of the three names in verse 1. Zechariah means “whom the Lord remembers.” Berechiah means, “the Lord blesses.” Iddo means “at the appointed time” (Charles Feinberg, God Remembers [American Board of Missions to the Jews], p. 17).
So… God raised up Zechariah to proclaim that God remembers His chosen people and that He will bless them in His appointed time.
That message applies to us, especially if you are discouraged. When you look around at the evil in the world and the apathy or hostility toward the gospel, you may feel as if God has forgotten you. But He remembers! He will bless in His appointed time! Our job is to be obedient and faithful to Him.
Outline of the Book of Zechariah
The book falls into two main parts. The first part (chapters 1-8) is specifically dated. The second part (chapters 9-14) is not. After the introductory theme (1:1-6), chapters 1-6 consist of eight-night visions that came to Zechariah in 520 B.C. The overarching theme of these visions (which will strike us as bizarre) is that God is again working on behalf of His people and that He will bring judgment on the heathen nations that had afflicted His people. These visions encouraged the Lord’s people to continue working to rebuild the temple.
In chapters 7 and 8, dated two years later, Zechariah gives a reply to a delegation of priests from Bethel concerning certain religious fasts. The thrust of his message is to show that God is concerned about hearts that are right before Him, not just about outward religious observance. It serves as a warning to the people that as the temple was completed, the danger would be to fall into outward religion without inward reality.
Chapters 9-14 are not dated and probably were written many years (perhaps 40) later. This section consists of a number of Messianic prophecies that reveal the importance of the rebuilt temple since the Messiah will come to this temple. Even though powerful nations will arise and threaten God’s people, His prophetic plan of the ages will be carried out.
Life Group Questions
- As we begin this new study in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. take a few moments to discuss the context and the central message of the book. Note, you may want to use the two blog posts above as guides.
Read Zechariah 1:1-6
- The idea of God’s wrath is not popular in our times. Should we emphasize it more, both in witnessing and with believers who fall into sin? Defend biblically.
- Someone says to you, “I believe in a God of love, not in a God who gets angry about sin.” How would you respond?
- Does God’s grace nullify the principle of sowing and reaping? Does repentance stop the harvest? Defend biblically.
- Some argue that repentance has no part in the gospel, which is solely by faith. How would you refute this biblically?
- What is the significance of the phrase “Return to me” in verse 3?
- Charles Simeon has written: “Search the inspired volume, search the annals of the whole world, and find, if you can, one mourning and believing penitent whom he cast out; or find if you can, any limit to his mercy and grace.” Do you struggle to believe that God God’s grace is sufficient to welcome you back after a time of rebellion?
- Verses 4-6 provide three short histories for God’s people. How would you summarise these three lessons, and how can we apply them today as Christians.
- Take turns sharing your main takeaway from this text.
Close in prayer.