The Lord to the returned exiles, through the prophet Zechariah: “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 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” (1:3-4).
Zechariah calls on his generation not to be like their fathers. We don’t have to be like everyone else; in fact, God would have us be very different from everyone else. Though everyone around us turns away from the Lord, we do not have to; in fact, we must not. Though everyone else faces judgment, we do not have to; in fact, because of our Savior’s sacrifice, we will not. Though everyone else refuses the Lord's mercy, we can and do receive it.
What follows are the night visions. They are full of wonder and hope for the people of God. Horsemen, craftsmen, high priest, golden lamp stand, flying scroll, etc. . . . amazing sights. And in the midst of it all, the Lord declares, “I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day” (3:8-9). We know who the Branch is!
Jesus, your blood and righteousness
my beauty are, my glorious dress;
mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
with joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great day;
who can a word against me say?
Fully absolved through these I am
from sin and fear, from guilt and shame. -- Nicolaus Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf (1739)