The Importance of Repentance
Zechariah 1:1-6
In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah…

In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechish, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers, etc. Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries - prophets of the restoration. The former began to prophesy about two months after Haggai. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he was of priestly descent; a son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo, the chief of one of the priestly families that returned from exile along with Zerubbabel and Joshua (Nehemiah 12:4). He commenced his prophetic labours in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 520. The most remarkable portion of the book consists of the first six chapters, where we have a record of a series of extraordinary visions, all of which seem to have been vouchsafed to the prophet during one night. The two succeeding chapters (7 and 8.) contain an answer to a question which the inhabitants of Bethel proposed, reelecting the observance of a certain fast. The remaining six chapters contain a variety of predictions. The authenticity of these chapters is denied by some scholars, and doubted by many more. His style is varied, sometimes almost colloquial; at other times sublimely poetic, abounding with gorgeous symbols. The subject suggested by these words is - the importance of repentance. There are three grounds in this passage on which this subject is urged.

I. FROM THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE TOWARDS THE IMPENITENT MEN OF THE PAST. "The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers." This "may be interpreted as bearing reference to the whole of their previous history. They had all along shown a mournfully strong and inveterate propensity to depart from God and from his ways. They had needed incessant repetitions of Divine admonitions, entreaties, promises, and threatenings; and many a time all had proved unavailing. Jehovah bound them to himself with 'cords of love.' But 'they brake the bands asunder, and cast away the cords from them.' They chose their own ways; they followed the wicked devices of their own hearts. They thus provoked him to anger; they drew down upon themselves his judicial visitations. From one of these visitations the people whom the prophet now addressed had but recently, in the faithfulness and mercy of a covenant keeping and compassionate God, been delivered. And I cannot doubt that to that most recent manifestation of the Divine displeasure Zechariah specially referred. Their fathers had by their sins brought that heavy seventy years' judgment upon themselves. And he who in justice had executed the judgment, had returned in mercy, and rescued them from their second bondage" (Dr. Wardlaw). Now, the displeasure of God to sinners of the past is here referred to in order to induce the Jews to repent of the selfish negligence which they had evinced concerning the building of the temple (Haggai 1:2-7). The argument here is the kind called enthymeme, in which one premiss only is expressed, and the consequent proposition is left to be supplied by the reader. It means this: the great God has been displeased with your fathers on account of their sins, and he will be displeased with you except you repent. This is an argument that preachers may well urge at all times. They may call up to their hearers the judgments that have fallen on the wicked of the past ages, in order to urge reformed life on the existing generation.

II. FROM GOD'S ASSURANCE OF A WELCOME TO ALL THAT TRULY REPENT, "Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." Blessed truth this! Proved:

1. By his invitation to the impenitent. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord," etc.; "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord," etc.; "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." The infinite Father is infinitely more ready to welcome true penitence than the father of the prodigal to welcome the return of his long lost son.

2. By the experience of mankind. Manasseh, David, Saul, Bunyan, and millions more returned to him, and he not only received them, but rejoiced over them. This being the case, how powerful is the exhortation here, "Be not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying," etc.! Your fathers, who rejected the call of my prophets of the past, bad as they were, would not have met with their terrible fates had they returned to me. Be not like them; Take warning from the past.

III. FROM THE TRANSITORINESS OF HUMAN LIFE, WHETHER WICKED OR GOOD, "Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever?" By "the fathers" here undoubtedly reference is to those spoken of in the former verses with whom the Almighty is displeased. These have disappeared; they have vanished from the earth. The prophets, too, the good men who spoke to them and whose call they rejected, useful men as they were, they did not live forever. The impenitent hearers and their faithful preachers are both gone. How solemnly true this is! All pass away from the stage of life, whether good or had, useful or mischievous. The life of a generation is but a vapour that will endure for a little and then vanish away. What an argument this:

1. For the wicked to repent! Impenitent hearers of the gospel, you will soon be gone. Ere another century passes over this globe, your bodies will be in the dust and your spirits in the awful Hades of retribution; therefore listen and repent. Ye preachers of the gospel, what an argument this:

2. For faithfulness and for persevering zeal! You will soon have finished your mission. A few more sermons, and all will be over. "The prophets, do they live forever?" etc. "Fathers," the ungodly men of the past, where are they? Ah! where are they? Echo answers, "Where?" - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

WEB: In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying,

God's Call to Repentance
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