Following the exile, in the same years as Haggai, who encouraged the people to rebuild the temple, Zechariah called upon the people to repent from the same sins as their ancestors and to renew their covenant with God: “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’” (1:4).
A series of visions follows. The four horsemen patrolled the earth and reported; the Lord, noting the danger from enemy nations, assured his people of his protection, which was given when the four smiths came and destroyed the four horns that had scattered the people. Another vision followed, that of a young man in Jerusalem with a measuring line, and to him the Lord announced, “’Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be the glory in her midst’” (2:4,5). Furthermore, God announced, “And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people” (2:11).
God had done great things for his people and for the nations, and he would do so, once again. As he pleaded for God’s blessing, the Psalmist acknowledged this truth: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb!” (Psalm 126:3,4).
Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today. –Martin Rinkart, 1636 (Catherine Winkworth, translator)