Zechariah Chapter Eight

 

Read Zechariah 8:1-8 – The Restoration of Jerusalem

 

v.1-2 “Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,  2Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury

 

            During this chapter alone Zechariah reminds us some fifteen times that these words are those of God.  The Jews and we today as we study his prophecies are reminded again and again that the words of the apostle are true that we find in:

 

II Peter 1:21 “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.” (ASV)

 

All down through the hundreds of years that Israel and Judah existed as nations God had protected, punished, restored, forgave them the most heinous of sins; tolerating far more than any being could who was not the God of heaven.  Sometimes as the result of good men begging him not to destroy them as in the example of Moses at Mount Sinai:

 

Exodus 32:14 “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

 

            Sometimes because they were ruled by good kings such as Hezekiah and worked at being faithful to their covenant with Him.

 

Isaiah 40:1-2 “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.  2Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins

 

The reason is that He is always looking forward to his eternal purpose of providing mankind salvation from sin.  In Isaiah 40 just referenced above the next verses are a prophecy concerning John the Baptizer who would herald the arrival of the Messiah.

 

v.3 “Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain

 

            For a period of time God had abandoned Zion, the site of Jerusalem as we have studied in the words of other prophets was totally destroyed and made desolate.  His people were either destroyed or carried away into captivity.  But now God has returned, restored his people to His mountain and directed that his dwelling place there be rebuilt.  As we read in:

 

Zechariah 1:16 “Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem

 

            He calls Jerusalem a “CITY OF TRUTH” and a “HOLY MOUNTAIN”.  Did the physical city and physical Israel ever become a “CITY OF TRUTH” or “HOLY”?  We only have to read Matthew chapter 23 among the other teachings of Jesus to know that the Jewish elders added their opinions, laws and notions to the Mosaic Law and bound them on the people just as the religious denominations do today.  But it became a “CITY OF TRUTH” when the Word of God began to be preached within its boundaries just as Jesus promised his disciples:

 

John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come

 

v.4 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age

 

            Old men and old women will dwell in this “CITY OF TRUTH” because death will not overtake them, they will live beyond the time that most men would require a staff or cane to support them in their movement about the city.  This prophecy is very similar to that of Isaiah speaking of “NEW HEAVENS” and “NEW EARTH” in:

 

Isaiah 65:20 “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed

 

v.5 “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.”

 

            Another sign of the peace and prosperity of the “CITY OF TRUTH”, the New Jerusalem is the playing of children in the streets without fear of danger or trouble.  The prophet Jeremiah uses much the same language in describing the restoration of physical Jerusalem:

 

Jeremiah 30:19-20 “And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.  20Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them

 

v.6 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts

 

            Just as the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, the return of mankind from the captivity of sin will be a marvelous occurrence in the eyes of man.  It will also be and in the eyes of God.  The Holy Spirit gave them a psalm to celebrate the joy that would result:

 

Psalms 126:1-3 “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.  2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.  3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad

 

            We should have no greater joy in this life than that which we experience when we turn to God in obedience and our sins are removed.  We should have no greater goal in our lives than to work, pray, and obey the commandments of God, indeed living by faith so that we will be with Him for eternity.

 

v.7-8 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;  8And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness

 

            What time in man’s history is God talking about in this verse?  The time that God will call men from all nations to enter the kingdom of God is symbolized here by Jerusalem.  Here we see the parallel between physical Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem of heaven.  He is talking about the coming of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom, the church.  We find a similar promise given by Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 2:2 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it

 

A promise confirmed by the teaching of Jesus:

 

Matthew 8:11 “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven

 

Commanded by Jesus:

 

Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

 

And completed during the 1st century:

 

Colossians 1:23 “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”

 

Read Zechariah 8:9-17 – They Will Enjoy God’s Favor

 

v.9 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.”

 

            Zechariah now turns again to a message of encouragement and hope for the current inhabitants of Jerusalem.  They are to be strong, accomplish what God has been given them to do that God may be worshiped and honored in their presence.  As we studied in the book of Haggai:

 

Haggai 2:4 “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts

 

And we’re told by the historian that they did overcome all of the objections and things that hindered them and completed God’s house:

 

Ezra 6:14 “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia

 

And they had to face adversity and discouragement as they are reminded in the next verse.

 

v.10 “For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour

 

            As we studied in the book of Haggai, they had neglected the work that God gave them.  Consequently they were troubled, they did not prosper, they did not know the kind of peace that they should as children of God, because:

 

“And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands Haggai 1:11

 

v.11-12 “But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.  12For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things

 

            But now God will not be to the inhabitants of Jerusalem as he had been in the past; now his blessings will again flow.  Now their seed will prosper, their vines will bear fruit for their enjoyment, the ground will yield food for their every need and the heavens will not be shut up but will bring the dew and rain needed.  As a consequence they would possess all of these things and enjoy the blessings of God as true children should.

 

v.13 “And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong

 

            Because of their sin God had made Israel and Judah a curse among nations.  They had served their time as servants and slaves of the heathen.  They had been purified by their punishment just as gold if purified by fire.  Now God will save them, they shall be a blessing.

            One way they would be a blessing is that through these same people now living in Jerusalem that God would fulfill his promise to Abraham:

 

Genesis 12:2 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing

 

He has fulfilled the promise made through the prophet Zephaniah and turned “BACK” their “CAPTIVITY”.

 

Zephaniah 3:20 “At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD

 

They will enjoy God’s richest blessings, so they should let their hands be strong, they should be eager to do the work of the Lord.  Should be today be any different?  God has blessed most of us beyond what we had ever dreamed.  We’re a long way from that hardscrabble sharecrop farm on an Ozark ridge.

 

v.14-15 “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:  15So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not

 

            Some people today would call this “tough love” and perhaps that concept is more Biblical than all of the other methods and psychological concepts devised by man.  God did indeed punish them and did not repent of His purpose.  The historian records for us:

 

II Chronicles 36:16 “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy

 

But now God has determined to do good to the house of Judah and to the city of Jerusalem.  God’s promises are now to be fulfilled as Jeremiah had written so many years before:

 

Jeremiah 31:28 “And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD

 

v.16 “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates

 

            Now God turns to instruction regarding their daily living; telling them what they needed to do in order to continue to enjoy his blessings.  First the admonition is repeated that we find in:

 

Zechariah 7:9 “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother

 

Or as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church:

 

Ephesians 4:25 “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

 

v.17 “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD

 

            This instruction is similar to what Zechariah had already brought before them from God but something that needed to be repeated:

 

Zechariah 7:10 “And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart

 

For these are among the things that God hates:

 

Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,  19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren

 

Read Zechariah 8:18-23 – God Will Bring Them Joy

 

v.18-19 “And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying, 19Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace

 

            As we studied in chapter seven; during their captivity the Jews had fasted and wept on the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem and at various other times during the year.  Two of those fasts are mentioned there in:

 

Zechariah 7:5 “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me

 

Now God is telling that since they have been restored to their homeland from captivity.  Since God is watching over them and caring for them again in the promised land that all of this fasting and mourning no longer should be practiced.  The purpose their fasting served is no longer valid.  They are to turn the previous times of fasting and weeping into feasts of joy, praising God for his goodness and celebrating their return to truth and piece.

 

v.20-21 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:  21And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also

 

            It shall come to pass that the day will come when many people will come to Jerusalem from many cities.  When would that day be?  It had been prophesied before by:

 

Isaiah 2:3 “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem

 

Micah 4:1-2 “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.  2And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem

 

Do we think that the gathering of the great mass of people at Jerusalem on Pentecost; people from fifteen different countries, localities or nations was an accident of time?  I don’t, God through his providence had set the stage for the beginning of the fulfillment of his promise to bless mighty nations and multitudes of people through his Son.  They came to worship, pray and to seek the “LORD OF HOSTS”, the messiah, the one promised that was going to come.

 

v.22 “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD

 

            Isaiah prophesied of this day several times.  Two references:

 

Isaiah 66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD

 

Isaiah 60:3 “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

 

Even Gentiles would be coming to Jerusalem to worship, pray and seek the “LORD OF HOSTS.”

 

v.23 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you

 

            Again Zechariah has reference to the coming of Christ and the day of Pentecost.  Luke’s record in Acts chapter 1 does not tells us just how many men actually were speaking on the porches of the temple and the other places in it’s vast courtyard at Pentecost.  But this prophecy says that “TEN MEN SHALL TAKE HOLD OF ALL LANGUAGES OF THE NATIONS”.  The reference to the occasion that Luke describes is obvious to all who read and study the scripture.

 

Acts 2:7-8 “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born

 

The Word of God had arrived through the Comforter that Jesus had promised his disciples.  The multitudes were gathered in the appointed place, the City of God, the Mountain called Zion, the place that God had chosen, the time that God had prepared.  God is indeed with them, confirmed by the signs and miracles given to the apostles:

 

“And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” I Corinthians 14:25

 

William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; September 6, 2009