But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers?…
When Zechariah wrote, the Jews had just returned from the Babylonish captivity, and already, in spite of that severe warning, they were going back into their old habits, and bringing upon themselves fresh displays of the wrath of God. Both judgments and mercies either leave us better or worse. They lead us to repentant watchfulness, or else harden our hearts into utter carelessness and wilful sin. We might naturally have expected that the lessons of a long captivity would have cured the Jewish people of their old disease, but sin is of too deep and treacherous a character for external circumstances to uproot it. The sin of idolatry had, indeed, been cast out, but the sins of luxury and pride, self-righteousness and dogmatism, worldliness and unbelief, had taken its place, and the forecast of their future possession of the Jewish mind appears as soon as the Jews returned from captivity. Haggai and Zechariah were commissioned by God to reprove the selfish and worldly spirit of the people. Here the prophet enforces his exhortation by two considerations.
1. The mutable nature of man, passive in the hands of God, and thoroughly dependent on God. It is the height of folly for man to oppose God, who has all power to punish sin. All men must die. The Word they bring is eternal as God is eternal, but they themselves must perish. Zechariah would say, "If such be the destiny of man, it is yours. Soon you must fade and fall. Turn ye from your fruitless and evil ways, and think not that ye can resist God."
2. The warning is enforced by considerations drawn from the unchangeable nature of the Divine Word. The prophets had died, but the certainty and stability of their prophecies had been vindicated by an express fulfilment. For the Word of God is eternal and unchangeable. Are you then profiting by it as you ought?
Parallel VersesKJV: But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
WEB: But my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, didn't they overtake your fathers? "Then they repented and said, 'Just as Yahweh of Armies determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our practices, so he has dealt with us.'"