From Zechariah 8-14
Zechariah speaks to a tired people who are rebuilding the temple. They need encouragement and the LORD speaks through him to give it to them. The LORD will return to Zion and will dwell with them. This is good news they needed to hear. When will this happen? It happens in the gospel. The word of God, who was with God and is God becomes flesh. He is God dwelling among us. Be encouraged the LORD has not abandoned his people. Fear not and be strong.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In chapter 8 the phrase “Thus say the LORD” occurs ten times (Zec 8.2,3,4,6,7,9,14,19,20,23). Whether this is a deliberate device is unknown. In our present reading we see several of these. The passage is written in the context where the LORD’s people have returned from exile in Babylon and are rebuilding the temple of the LORD.
8 And the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. (Zec 8:1–2)
The LORD is jealous for Zion. The LORD keenly desires her.
Jealousy is aroused in a person when they see someone possessing something they do not have.
The LORD is jealous because Zion, the people of Jerusalem have wandered away to other gods. The LORD is jealous with great wrath. He is angry with the people of Zion because they have wandered away from him. He is angry with the nations who lead them astray.
3 Thus says the LORD: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain. (Zec 8:3)
The LORD has to return to Zion because he left. He left Jerusalem when the people turned away from him. He left the temple to pagans and destruction. He left when Judah was exiled.
The LORD decides to take matter in his own hands and will return to Zion. The LORD himself will return.
He will return and dwell with them. This changes everything.
When the LORD does this Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city. The will again obey the LORD and remain faithful to their Lord and King.
They shall also be called the mountain of the LORD. A holy mountain. Mountains are big, strong and immovable. So become God’s people when they trust in the LORD. Take refuge in him and listen to his voice.
4 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zec 8:4-5)
People will live longer. They will not die early from war, natural disasters or sickness. A sign of the LORD’s blessing on the people. Boys and girls will play in the streets. The streets will be safe. Families will be blessed with children.
Old age and children are blessings from the LORD.
6 Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the LORD of hosts? (Zec 8:6)
The remnant are the people of God, preserved by the LORD. Who remain faithful to him when all others don’t.
If this is marvelous in the peoples sight. Old age and children. Then the LORD also will consider it marvelous.
What do you think of old age and children?
7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.” (Zec 8:7-8)
The east country and the west country represent all the nations. From the east to the west covers all the land. The LORD will save his people from these nations. He will deliver them from exile and return them to the promised land. To dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. He will restore their relationship with him and will be their God. Reconciliation.
He will do this in faithfulness and righteousness. The relationship expressed by these two is covenantal. The LORD is faithful to his covenant promises. When he acts to fulfill these promises and act according to the covenant he is righteous. God’s saving acts are part of his covenant righteousness.
Hearing about the LORD’s salvation should have an effect on Zechariah’s listeners.
9 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who in these days have been hearing these words from the mouth of the prophets who were present on the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
10 For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there any safety from the foe for him who went out or came in, for I set every man against his neighbor. (Zec 8:9-10)
The LORD is referring to the construction of the second temple. He is speaking to the people who witnessed the laying down of its foundation and heard the prophets including Zechariah.
He encourages them to be of good courage. To be strong and continue in their good work.
They have to be strong because of their conditions. The prophet reminds the people of the sad condition of affairs during the cessation of the good work, and how things began to improve directly they showed diligence and zeal. There was no hire for man, etc. Either the yield was so small that no labour of men or beasts was needed to gather it in, or the general poverty was so great that labourers could not get their wages nor the oxen their well-earned share of provender (Hag. 1:11; 2:17, 18). (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Zechariah (pp. 76–77). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the LORD of hosts.
12 For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13 And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing.
Fear not, but let your hands be strong.” (Zec 8:11–13)
The LORD encourages them that the future will be better. Not like the ‘former days’. It will be better for several reasons.
There will be sowing of peace. How do you understand the peace the LORD brings?
The peace the LORD speaks about has wide ranging limitations. The text says the land will produce its crop. The remnant will no longer be hungry. They have been cursed by the nations around them for what has happened to them. The LORD will now save them and restore them. When this is done they will be a blessing to the nations around them.
It goes unsaid by Zechariah, but remains a powerful reality. The peace the LORD brings will be peace with himself and with the other people of God. Reconciliation.
For all these things they are to fear not. They should be strong. The LORD will return to Zion.
The prophet Isaiah predicted the return of the LORD to Zion. He foretold the LORD would lament the condition Israel and Judah were in and would take action.
14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment.
19 So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.
20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD. (Is 59:14–20)
Like Zechariah, Isaiah predicted the LORD would return to Zion.
The LORD did return to Zion. In the gospel, He came in the person of Jesus. In many different ways. King Jesus alluded to his deity.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1–14)
The LORD had returned to Zion.
Do you believe Jesus is the one who will redeem Israel, and save you and me? Is he God in the flesh, dwelling among us? The Christ who will return again to judge?
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