The importance of Zechariah’s message cannot be overestimated. When we contemplate the power of God and the extent of his capacities it is vital to keep the affirmations of the prophet firmly in mind. There are times without number when we shall need to share in his stalwart convictions concerning the ability of God to maintain his purposes and bring them to successful conclusion. Confidence in the Lord requires a sound foundation and Zechariah lays down that foundation in impressive and emphatic fashion. Eighteen times within the span of chapter eight he enunciates the stupendous fact that the God he knows and serves is the Lord Almighty!
In a time when the fortunes of the people of God are at a low ebb Zechariah is commissioned to convey a rousing message of enormous future evidence of the great strength of God on behalf of his chosen folk. They have been reduced to a remnant of returnees from exile in Babylon to the ravaged city of Jerusalem in need of major reconstruction. Their situation is depressing and their future daunting. The resolve to rebuild was weak and efforts were feeble, and it was hard to resist the hindrances and hateful attacks of foreign opposition. Results were poor and expectations low. The people of God were faced with the imposition of many impediments and the distressing reality of their own impotence. It was virtually time to give up.
The antidote to Jewish lassitude and loss of hope came in Zechariah’s reassurance of the authority and irresistible force of the sovereignty of God to be exercised in all that he wishes to accomplish for the cause of his kingdom. God is reliable. God is strong. He has complete power over all things. Indeed, he is omnipotent. The prophet steadfastly avers that his unchallengeable and due title is God Almighty. We are apt to neglect the profound meaning of this familiar form of address to the Deity. Its very utterance should cause us to tremble, and at the same time it should embolden the spirits of believers. Nothing can restrict the power of God when it is exerted in ways consonant with the perfection of his nature and all of his divine qualities and attributes. The strength of God is infinite and inexhaustible. This is the God in whom we trust and to whom we render our prayers and pleas. This the God who cares for us and who protects and provides for his people.
Current conditions cannot circumscribe his holy intentions. Though not decided or specifically known by us there could be an enormous range of impossibilities that could possibly lie ahead to be wrought and fulfilled if in agreement with his will. We cannot automatically discount extraordinary acts and interventions of the Lord when matters are dire or defeat appears inevitable. He is the Master of all matters. There are human unknowns known to the mind of the Lord. There is always hope in prayer offered in the midst of uncertainties. Whatever occurs was ordained in some inscrutable way. Our reliance upon God is never mislaid as we humbly submit to his wisdom, even with our difficulties.
Zechariah’s message is addressed to the people of God, therefore it is timeless, finding its completion in the mission of the Messiah through its various installments. The promises of God are manifested developmentally in history, first in Israel and then in the church, and his purposes are realized more broadly through divine governance in Providence. Everything is ordered by divine power and at divine pace. This is why Zechariah seeks to allay the fears of his nation. Though we sense tremors in our lives they ought never to convert to terror. We need supernatural nous to recognize that all is well ultimately.
Zechariah encourages the remnant of God’s people with the pledge that they will eventually resettle satisfactorily in their homeland. He adds the startling news of the ingathering of Gentiles to the knowledge of God and an enlarging of the borders of a spiritual Israel as is recorded in the New Testament. What he describes as the benefits of the power and grace of God is the inheritance of all believers meant to undergird and guard our faith and our hope.
In the words of the prophet recorded in chapter eight Zechariah is ministering to us. His eighteen uses of the term “Almighty” are a powerful testimony to us as to the ability of God to perform wonders – even to the end of time, unless he decides or declares otherwise. The deepest assurance is afforded to us, for our confidence, in the frequency of the phrase “The Lord Almighty says”. In the interests of his people God will work their welfare in all circumstances and all times. Our sense of what is our welfare may well differ from his, but he will secure it infallibly nonetheless.
It is the teaching of the word of God that the Lord is able to do the impossible. His deeds stun the mind of man. We have a natural tendency to severely limit the character and capabilities of the Lord. This either leads us to folly or faltering faith. The sinner counts on the supposed limits of God. The believer cowers due to the failure to acknowledge the boundless ingeniousness, creativity, resourcefulness, and competence of the Lord. Our God is always “too small” as alleged by Bible translator J.B. Phillips.
Verse six addresses our habitual underestimation of the greatness of God in his ability to bless those justified in Christ and blast those who remain guilty before him in their proud rejection of his salvation and forgiveness. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?’ declares the Lord Almighty.” God’s most astounding works to us are simply standard operations and ordinary works in terms of his actual and potential strength which can never be tested and cannot be tired. All his exertions are easy. All power is his both in boundless reserve and its exercise in real action.
Who can forecast the possible designs and deeds of the Lord with regard to any state of affairs. In Zechariah’s reckoning amazing events are likely “Because God is with you/us”, as witnesses may also observe (v23). We are unable to conceive the course or conclude the end of any matter. Our suppositions or speculations may be erroneous. The future is dark to us and we walk confidentially in the safety of the companionship of the Lord Jesus Christ who could have anything surprising in store for us. Charles Spurgeon exhorts us to look to Christ’s “suddenlies”.
The Bible urges us to observe its catalogue of impossibilities that came to pass or could do so if God determined. Abraham and Sarah could bring convincing evidence: Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14). John the son of another Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth must have learned of the angelic word to his Aunt Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) for he expressed the conviction, “For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Luke3:8b). Note the possibility of a dual meaning of the preposition “with” in the first Lucan quotation: a) what God can accomplish, and b) what can occur in association with him. And observe the reference to Abraham (infertility) and the promise of his spiritual children through the gospel as alluded to in the second quote from Luke. The Bible is emphatic: the Lord is Almighty and nothing is impossible with God. Perhaps we may remain in good heart – expectant!