When we RETURN to God, He will RETURN to us: "In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, "The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Return to Me," says the Lord of hosts, "and I will return to you," says the Lord of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds."' But they did not hear nor heed Me," says the Lord. (Zech. 1:1-4)
Zechariah established himself as one of the ‘minor’ prophets even though by his lineage he identifies himself as a priest. God gave Zechariah a message to show the people that the long-term result of their work was bound up with God’s purpose to establish the messianic kingdom. Like John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1, 2), Zechariah was called first to preach repentance (1:1–6) and then to proclaim that the kingdom of God was at hand. Encouragement and hope are the underlying themes of the prophecies of Zechariah.
The first six verses are introductory, and five times (vv. 2–6) Zechariah claims that these are the words of the LORD. They convey a message from the LORD urging His people to return to Him. It is verse 3 that is the keynote of this prophetical book: “Return to Me and I will return to you.” Zechariah counsels the people to profit from the mistakes of their fathers, who had refused to listen to the former prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. Judgment overtook the people, as the Lord had warned, and then they realized that the Lord was dealing with them because of their evil ways.
Jehovah God had been displeased with the earlier generation, and as a result, they had spent the last seventy years in the Babylonian captivity. Jerusalem had been totally destroyed as well as a punishment from God. Having just returned from exile, now the people understood very well that God’s judgment had come in as a fulfillment of the prophecies that were spoken by the earlier prophets (v. 5). Now God is still displeased with His people because they were not attempting to rebuild the Temple and they had turned away from Jehovah to serve their own selfish interests (see Haggai 1:2–4).
A call to repentance from God was based on the experience of the previous generation who had showed obstinacy and rebellion (2 Kings 17:13–15). As a consequence, the curses of the covenant (Deut. 28:15–68) came upon them for their disobedience. Now, the remedy from God was simple: return to Him. If they do that, God promised to return to His people as well. This reminds us of the depth of God’s unconditional love!
This is how every spiritual problem is solved: we need to just do just what God wants! When we return to God, we put Him first in all our priorities, and we start doing what He wants. In the case of the Israelites, God wanted them to get on with the task of building the Temple. When we are in a right relationship with God, we can enjoy His fellowship and blessings that He has promised through His Word!
Sin has a way of following us and finally overtaking us, so it is crucial that we repent as soon as possible. Repentance involves a total turning away from sin and a turning back to God. If we do that, God will return back to us and bless us with His presence and power (1:16; 2:11). When we return to God, remember, He will return to us!
"Now, therefore," says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him". (Joel 2:12-14)