Scriptures

Zechariah 8

Introduction

This chapter is a continuation of the previous in relation to the question those Jews who were still living in Babylon had concerning fasting, Zechariah 7:1-3.

There were many Jews now living in Palestine and when they recognised that many other Jews were still living in Babylon because they didn’t want to return, those living in Palestine were becoming discouraged. As a result of this, and a drought, Haggai 1:11, there was a lot of tension between the two groups of Jews.

The LORD Promises To Bless Jerusalem

‘The word of the LORD Almighty came to me. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘It may seem marvellous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvellous to me?’ declares the LORD Almighty. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.’ Zechariah 8:1-8

The message Zechariah received form the Lord is a message of hope, for both those who were now in Palestine and those who were still living in Babylon.

God hadn’t forgotten about people who were still living in Babylon, even though he was the One who scattered them throughout different nations because of their disobedience. God worked in and through those other nations in order that those who were scattered may return to the land.

The word, ‘jealous’ used here means an intense, righteous emotion, used in the positive sense. God promises to return to Zion and Jerusalem, and as a result of God’s presence the city will be transformed into a place of ‘faithfulness’ or ‘truth’, as some translations have it, and ‘holiness’, the fulfilment of this would happen in Jerusalem, just as Jesus said, Luke 24:47 / 2 Corinthians 3:18.

God says that ‘men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem’. In other words, the people could return and grow old there in safety because there will be no more captivity, Isaiah 65:20.

The ‘streets will be filled with boy and girls’, in other words, the land was now a place where they can raise their family and carry on with normal life. This is a picture of normal life being restored.

The picture of a safe and prosperous Jerusalem, where God would once again dwell may well have seemed like a fantasy to the ‘remnant’, that is, those still living in Babylon, that is ‘marvellous’, but it wasn’t a fantasy in God’s eyes, it was the reality, and nothing is impossible for Him to achieve, Jeremiah 32:27 / Matthew 19:26.

Those still living in the scattered lands needed to understand that God restoring the land was God’s doing, Isaiah 43:5-6 / Matthew 8:11-12. He wanted to save them, and for Him to do that they needed to return to Palestine to repopulate the land and so that He could re-established His people as Israel so that the promises to the fathers could be fulfilled.

They will be God’s people, Jeremiah 24:7 / Jeremiah 30:22 / Jeremiah 31:33, and God will be faithful and righteous to them, Isaiah 48:1 / Jeremiah 4:2. God won’t give up on them and treat them right.

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty. Before that time there were no wages for people or hire for animals. No one could go about their business safely because of their enemies, since I had turned everyone against their neighbour. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.’ Zechariah 8:9-13

God says, ‘let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built’, twice in these verses. In other words, they needed to keep working despite being discouraged by the Samaritans, Ezra 4:4 / Nehemiah 4:7-11, they need to understand that God was working in and through them, not just to complete building the temple but to fulfil God’s eternal plans for them, Haggai 2:15-19.

The prophets who were present at this time would be Zechariah himself, and Haggai. We must remember that the foundation was set for the temple more than fifteen years ago at this point in time.

However, even though they had a lack of resources, that is, ‘no wages for people or hire for animals’, even though they faced opposition, that is there was ‘no peace’, God wanted to find the strength to keep going.

God promises to deal with the remnant different from the way He dealt with them in the past. In the past, that is in the days before their captivity, God disciplined His people through famines and pestilence because of their idolatry. He brought tragedy on the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel in order that they would repent, Jeremiah 44:22.

In the past God allowed His people to go through periods of real hardship, but He wasn’t going to let on go on forever. Now that they had repented and returned to the land, God would no longer curse them but bless all that they do.

He was going to richly bless them again, they would prosper in their labours in their fields, Leviticus 26:4 / Leviticus 26:20. As they were being blessed again, they in turn would bless those around them, Genesis 12:2 / Genesis 28:4 / Romans 9:5.

God wanted them to trust in His promise of blessing, He didn’t want them to be afraid, Luke 2:10, but let the promise encourage them to keep working in the rebuilding of the temple.

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,’ declares the LORD.’ Zechariah 8:14-17

God punished their ancestors, Zechariah 7:9-10, because they had digressed into a society of injustice and oppression among themselves, Jeremiah 4:28.

However, God promised that He would bless them for restoring justice and mercy, Jeremiah 18:7-10. If God’s people are obedient to Him, then He promises to bless His people instead of cursing them, Deuteronomy 28:1-2 / Deuteronomy 28:15.

In order to show their gratefulness to God, there were certain things they had to practice, speaking truth to each other, Ephesians 4:25, and in the court rooms, Zechariah 7:9.

They were to stop plotting evil against each other, Zechariah 7:10, and swearing falsely, Matthew 5:34 / Matthew 5:35, God hates all of these practices because they are against His Holy nature.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following.

‘No factor of the divine providence is any more ignored or denied than is this one. All of God’s promises, either for destruction or for blessing are contingent, always, invariably, and eternally contingent upon the status of the recipient with regard to the fact of whether or not he is obedient to the Lord. There are no preferred classes where this rule is suspended, not even for those who say they ‘believe’ but do not obey the teachings of the Lord. The purpose of these verses is to show that obedience will be the primary condition in the establishment of the New Covenant.’

‘The word of the LORD Almighty came to me. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ Zechariah 8:18-23

God now brings to an end the discussion concerning fasting, Zechariah 7:2-3. He tells them to stop the fasting that God didn’t command and their fasting should now be joyous occasions because of what God was doing among them.

Morgan, says the following.

‘None of these things had been in the purpose of God for His people, they had resulted from their sins. The fasts therefore were the result of their sins. In jealousy and fury, the outcome of love, Jehovah would put away their sins, and so restore them to true prosperity. In that day, let them still remember and observe, only let the observance be a feast in celebration of God’s grace, instead of a fast in memory of their sin.’

Because God promised to bless them, He wants them to be more like in, in loving ‘truth and peace’. Because of what God is going to do, and because of such a joyous occasion, many people will want to partake in the joy, many will come to the Lord in the future, Matthew 19:28. This is speaking of the time when Christ shall reign, Matthew 28:18-20.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following.

‘The literal fulfilment of this prophecy (centring the kingdom of God in literal Jerusalem) is not to be looked for. This declares the future conversion of the Gentiles, and their being made one with Israel in the Church of Christ, ‘one fold under one Shepherd’, John 10:16.’

Notice that God says that, ‘ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew.’ The number ten is a perfect number, following the Hebrew usage of numbers, standing for an infinitely greater number from all the nations, that is, the Gentiles of the world, Revelation 17:12-14.

The words, ‘firm hold’, implies that its something which you mustn’t let go off, Exodus 4:4 / 1 Samuel 17:35. Christians need to learn how to be joyful because of what God has done and is doing in their lives, Philippians 4:4 / 1 Peter 3:15.

When Christians are full of joy, this will attract other people around them to find the reason for their joy, Colossians 1:27 / 2 Corinthians 4:15.

Go To Zechariah 9

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

2 Timothy 3:16

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