In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, “The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore, say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “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 preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.” ’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord.’ “
The role reversal between parent and child that most families inevitably will experience can create an awkward dynamic. The natural pattern is one of the parent being the leader and authority figure, and the child holding the lowly position. The parent directs, and the child submits. Even as time passes and the child becomes an adult, that dynamic remains. As we age, however, the child often must take on the role of leader and director. Normally, this is a practical matter resulting from the parent’s inability to be independent or self-sufficient. On rarer occasions, the child’s direction to the parent is corrective in nature and touches on morality or self-control. That is the role reversal Zechariah experienced.
Zechariah was instructed to speak words of correction to his fathers in hopes of bringing repentance. Now, it is not that Zechariah had a natural father and also a stepfather. The fatherhood referenced here is a generational lineage that is not only familial but also spiritual. We are speaking of men who had held the leadership position of father over Zechariah and his people. These men had displeased God, and He wanted a prophet to reach them. It certainly was a specific strategy for the Lord to ask the child to address his fathers regarding their sin and unfaithfulness, and that must have been difficult for Zechariah. Where he had grown accustomed to those men correcting and leading him, he now had to speak words of stiff rebuke in order to try to change them.
When Jesus spoke his words of woe to the scribes and Pharisees, He attributed the murder of Zechariah to them. [Mat. 23:35] Those men had not even been alive at that time, but Christ was making it clear that they were of the same breed as those whom Zechariah had attempted to call to repentance. When this prophet took his stand on the side of God and spoke those words of rebuke, a target was placed on his back. Nevertheless, he delivered those words to men who appeared beyond his equal, and he did so as commanded by the Lord despite that. Father, give us courage to obey your command even when it means leading or teaching those we thought should be our leaders and teachers.