Remember: Zechariah is doing his work as a prophet in a very small window of time. The temple has yet to be rebuilt. The city of Jerusalem, twenty years after the first return of the exiles, still lies in ruins. The Jewish inhabitants of the land have some wealth – though even that seems to be slipping through their fingers – and pride, but nothing is turning out as it should.
The reason things are not progressing as they hoped has to do with their own moral failings. Idolatry is still a problem (12:2). Prophets who claim to speak for God – but really don’t – are still trying to guide the people. And the people are listening, filling the land with sin and impurity.
God feels wounded (12:10).
It doesn’t have to be this way. Things can be better, if the Jewish people will but renew and pursue a relationship with God. They can be the leading nation of the world. God will make it so. But God isn’t going to just make it happen. “Holy to the Lord” will not be inscribed on that which is not really holy, not really dedicated to God.
There is much in chapters 12 – 14 that seems to Christians like the arrival of the glorious judgment of God – God’s reign over the whole earth for example and His name being the only name (14:9). God’s reign cannot be over the lives of people who will not yield to Him. Glory will not just appear. The appearance of God will not automatically change the hearts of people. Instead, we should understand that the blessing of God’s promise and coming will only apply to those whose hearts have already been made ready for it. A heart will not exult over Christ’s return if it is not already exulting over belonging to God.