The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Zechariah 8

Zec 8:1

Zec 8: "The prophetic vision of Zechariah continues with a further voice from heaven. Yahweh declares that the evidence of present blessings foreshadow future ones. The chapter concerns the glory of Jerusalem. So the prophet declares: [1] A full restoration to Jerusalem is promised: vv 1-8. [2] Encouragement to the faithful for current difficulties: vv 9-13. [3] The exhortation: 'Fear not!': vv 14,15. [4] Yahweh's requirements of His people: vv 16,17. [5] Previous fasts become joyful festivities: vv 18,19. [6] Typical of the future blessings of the Kingdom: vv 20-23.

Notice the divine Titles of the Lord's redemptive work revealed in this chapter: 'I will save' (vv 7, 13: Yahshua; Jesus). 'I will dwell' (v 3; from shakhan, the basis of the Hebrew 'shekinah', the glory indwelling. see John 1:14). 'I will be' (v 8: the Heb 'ehyeh', the memorial Name). 'God with us' (v 23; Heb 'Immanuel')" (GEM).

Zec 8 not only contains two major messages from the Lord (vv 1-17, 18-23) but 10 minor messages, "a decalogue of divine words" (Leupold), that make up the two major ones. "Thus says the Lord" introduces each of these minor messages (vv 2, 3, 4-5, 6, 7-8, 9-13, 14-18, 19, 20-22, 23).

"In the preceding section [Zec 7] Israel was to repent and live righteously after the punishment of her captivity; here [in Zec 8] she is to repent and live righteously because of the promise of her future restoration" (EBC).

The whole chapter presents Israel's eventual restoration and participation in full millennial blessing. The restoration from exile in Zechariah's day was only a precursor of greater future blessing and prosperity.

"Of a total of 36 occurrences of 'YHWH of hosts' in Zechariah, 15 are in this one oracle [Zec 8], the highest concentration of the phrase in the OT with the possible exception of Malachi. Even more remarkable, it occurs six times in the present passage alone [8:1-8], a passage that focuses narrowly on eschatological restoration. So humanly impossible will that be, it can come to pass only by the resources of the Almighty One" (Merrill).

Zec 8:2

I AM VERY JEALOUS FOR ZION; I AM BURNING WITH JEALOUSY FOR HER: Almighty Yahweh had revealed that He was very jealous for the exclusive love and commitment of His people (cp Zec 1:14). His loving jealousy burned within Him (cp also Jer 31:3; Mal 3:6; Deu 11:12; Psa 132:13,14).

"YHWH is a 'jealous God' (Exo 20:5), one who tolerates no rivals real or imaginary and who is zealous to protect His uniqueness and maintain the allegiance of His people to Himself alone. He is also jealous for His people, that is, He is protective of them against all who would challenge them or claim to be elect alongside them. Therefore, He is zealous to safeguard their interests and come to their defense" (Merrill).

"The zeal with which God had carried through His chastisement of Israel and then of the nations (Zec 1:15,21) was now burning to restore the covenant bond" (Baldwin).

Zec 8:3

I WILL RETURN TO ZION AND DWELL IN JERUSALEM... THE CITY OF TRUTH... THE HOLY MOUNTAIN: Cp Zec 1:16; 2:10; 14:20,21. Finally the recurring cycle of apostasy followed by punishment would end.

"Jerusalem did not acquire this character in the period after the captivity, in which, though not defiled by gross idolatry, as in the times before the captivity, it was polluted by other moral abominations no less than it had been before. Jerusalem [will become] a faithful city for the first time through the Messiah, and it is through Him that the temple mountain first really becomes the holy mountain" (KD).

THE CITY OF TRUTH: Jerusalem will become the center from which will emanate divine truth to all the world: Zep 3:15; Jer 3:17; 31:23; Isa 1:24-27; 26:1-3.

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN: See Isa 2:2-4; Eze 43:12.

Zec 8:4

Vv 4,5: Then the elderly would feel secure enough to sit in the open streets again, and children would again play in the streets because they would be safe. During the destruction of Jerusalem both of these groups of Israelites had suffered greatly (Lam 2:21). In other words, Jerusalem would become a place of tranquillity, long life, peace, prosperity, and security for even the most defenseless of her citizens (cp Isa 65:20-25). These conditions await the return of Jesus Christ at His second coming.

Zec 8:6

IT MAY SEEM MARVELOUS TO THE REMNANT OF THIS PEOPLE AT THAT TIME, BUT WILL IT SEEM MARVELOUS TO ME?: At that time, it will be beyond mere human power to solve the "problem" of Israel. But Yahweh's power will be adequate for the purpose: Eze 37:25-28; Mic 7:15-20.

Zec 8:7

Vv 7,8: God will save His people from the distant places in the world where He had scattered them and to bring them back to live in Jerusalem (cp Isa 11:11,12; Jer 30:7-11; 31:7,8). There they would enjoy intimacy with Him, a relationship marked by truth and righteousness. This future Exodus depended on Yahweh's electing grace and His covenant faithfulness just as much as the original Exodus did.

" 'They will be my people, and I will be... their God' is covenant terminology, pertaining to intimate fellowship in a covenant relationship (cp Gen 17:7,8; Exod 6:7; 19:5,6; 29:45.46; Lev 11:45; 22:33; 25:38; 26:12,44,45; Num 15:41; Deut 4:20; 29:12,13; Jer 31:33; 32:38; Ezek 37:27; 2Co 6:16; Rev 21:3)" (EBC).

Zec 8:9

The LORD also told the people to gain strength from the words of the prophets who had encouraged them to complete the rebuilding of the temple ever since they began the project (cp Jos 7:11; 2Sa 2:7; 16:21; Hag 2:4). These prophets were Haggai, Zechariah, and perhaps others (Ezra 5:1,2). Probably the resumption of construction in 520 BC (Hag 2:18) is in view rather than the restoration of the foundation in 536 BC (Ezra 3:8). Between these dates the people seem to have done little work on the temple, esp between 530 and 520 BC.

Zec 8:10

Before the returnees began to rebuild in earnest, there was severe unemployment, so there were no wages for many of the people (cp Hag 1:6). Even the animals were not earning their keep. There was also no peace because the enemies of the Jews oppressed them (cp Ezra 4:1-5; Hag 1:6-11; 2:15-19).

Zec 8:11

Yahweh promised to treat the remnant of His people differently in the future than He had in the past (cp Hag 2:19) -- this is explained beginning in v 12.

Zec 8:12

The LORD promised to treat the remnant of His people differently in the future than He had in the past (cp Hag 2:19). Peace would prevail for the people as they sowed their seed, their fields would become productive (cp Hag 2:19), there would be abundant moisture so things would grow (cp Hag 1:10,11), and the remnant would enjoy the fruits of all these blessings. These were some of the things God had promised the Israelites for covenant obedience (Lev 26:3-10; Deu 28:11,12; cp Eze 34:25-27).

Zec 8:13

AS YOU HAVE BEEN AN OBJECT OF CURSING AMONG THE NATIONS: Cp Deu 28:15-68; Jer 24:9; 25:18; 29:22.

SO WILL I SAVE YOU, AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING: The national redemption of Israel will be a blessing that will filter through the Jews and ultimately affect for the better all nations on earth: Jer 3:17; Isa 2:2-4; Psa 68:29; Psa 72.

DO NOT BE AFRAID, BUT LET YOUR HANDS BE STRONG: One of the purposes of these promises was to remove the Jews' present fear and to give them strength to complete the temple. "Let your hands be strong" is also the exhortation that frames this sixth message of encouragement (cp v 9).

Zec 8:14

Vv 14,15: Yahweh of armies also promised that just as He had purposed to bring His people into difficult times because of their forefathers' sins (cp Jer 4:28; 51:12; Lam 2:17), so He would bless Jerusalem in the near future. Covenant disobedience had brought divine discipline, but covenant obedience would bring divine blessing. As He had not relented from bringing the first promise to pass, so He would not go back on the second promise. His determination was equally strong in both instances. Therefore the people should not fear (cp v 13).

Zec 8:16

Vv 16,17: Vv 14,15 explain GOD's part in the people's immediate restoration, and vv 16,17 explain THEIRS. "The LORD had determined to do good to Jerusalem instead of the evil He had given them because of their wickedness. But to ensure that the good He gave them was going to continue, there were four small but challenging things He asked them to do: (1) Speak the truth to each other. Grumbling behind each other's backs, misleading people, gossip and lies seem to be the normal standard of speech for the world today. But it must be different for us. The NT adds to this instruction when it tells us to 'speak the truth in love.' (2) Render true and sound judgement in your courts. 'The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.' This phrase and swearing on the Bible do not mean what they used to. But we must do our part to be true. (3) Do not plot evil against your neighbour. Climbing the corporate ladder and getting rid of neighbourly nuisances are both ways we can be sucked into plotting evil. Be kind and compassionate instead. (4) Do not love to swear falsely. Instead we must delight in doing what is right and just.

"Do these things and be well on the way to being pleasing to the LORD" (RP).

Zec 8:18

Vv 18-23: The joy and blessings of the Kingdom: This final portion of this section (Zec 7; 8) returns full circle to the theme with which it began, namely the people's concern about fasting (cp Zec 7:1-7). These messages began after a few Bethelites came to Jerusalem (Zec 7:2-7), and they ended with the promise that multitudes of Gentiles representing all languages would come to Jerusalem. The fasting of the past would become feasting in the future.

Zec 8:19

THE FASTS OF THE FOURTH, FIFTH, SEVENTH AND TENTH MONTHS WILL BECOME JOYFUL AND GLAD OCCASIONS AND HAPPY FESTIVALS FOR JUDAH: Zechariah received another message from the LORD Almighty. He promised that in the future the sorrowful fasts that the Jews had observed in captivity would give way to joyful feasts. Thus at the end of this section of messages on hypocritical fasting (Zec 7; 8), the LORD provided at least a partial answer to the question that the messengers from Bethel had asked about the traditional fasts (Zec 7:3). In addition to the fasts in the fifth and seventh months (Zec 7:3,5), the exiles also had commemorated the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:3-4; Jer 39:2) in the fourth month and the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:1; Eze 24:2) in the tenth month.

"The manifestation of the kingdom will be attended by such a fulness of salvation that Judah will forget to commemorate the former mournful events and will only have occasion to rejoice in the benefits of grace bestowed by God" (Unger).

THEREFORE LOVE TRUTH AND PEACE: The immediate practical application of this revelation was that the people should love truth and peace (cp Lev 19:18,34; Deu 6:5; Psa 31:23; Amos 5:15). They could value these ideals in the present because they were sure to come in the future. Before mourning could become joy for them, the returnees would need to love truth and peace.

Zec 8:21

Vv 21,22: The LORD foretold that people from one of the world's cities would contact people from another of these cities and would plan to go up to Jerusalem immediately to worship the LORD (cp Zec 7:2). They would do this eagerly, not out of a sense of duty or obligation (cp Zec 2:11; Isa 2:1-5; Mic 4:1-5). (This appears to be voluntary service, as distinct from the compulsory service described in Zech 14:16.) Many people representing many nations from around the world would come to Jerusalem to pray and worship Yahweh Almighty.

"Jerusalem is no longer viewed simply as the heart of Judaism but as the centre of God's dealings with all nations, and as a glorious realization of the ancient promise given to Abraham (cp Gen 12:3)" (Ellis).

"With the Davidic kingdom established, Israel will be a medium of blessing to the entire globe" (Unger).

Zec 8:22

MANY PEOPLES AND POWERFUL NATIONS WILL COME TO JERUSALEM TO SEEK THE LORD ALMIGHTY: Cp Jer 3:17; Isa 2:3. This can happen only on the earth. Gentiles taken out of many nations: Acts 15:17. The Kingdom of God to be worldwide: Psa 2:6-12; 72:8; Zech 14:19; Mal 1:11.

Zec 8:23

"V 23 is a prophecy of the future redemption through Israel. Significantly, the Gentiles will take hold of the skirt of the Jews, as did the woman bowed down with infirmity, who touched the hem of the Lord's garment -- the ribband of blue which speaks of God manifestation in glory. That ribband represents the Word of Yahweh, in whose 'circle' or hem we must remain. In this v Zechariah divides the nations philologically whilst Daniel does so politically (Dan 2). It is claimed by FF Bruce that there are ten distinct groups of languages in use today among the Indo-Europeans. The use of the word 'language' in this verse implies men will use Hebrew, being subject to Christ not only politically, but in thought and speech (cp Zep 3:9)" (GEM).

"As we have seen before, there are allusions to Daniel's prophecy in the message of Zechariah. It may be that the reference to 'ten men,' while having a general reference of completeness, as the ten fingers provide a basis for enumeration, has also a hint of the ten kingdoms which are the final phase of the kingdom of men. It is difficult to imagine a greater reversal in the sentiments of men, when because a man is a Jew they will say, 'We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.' 'Am I a Jew?' Pilate once said in disdain; and repeatedly men have scorned the chosen race. There may truly be a want of attractiveness about many of them, there may be pride and stubbornness of heart; but the words stand that they are 'beloved for the fathers' sakes' " (PAE 92).

This is more than a general description of the favor to be shown to Jews in the days of the Kingdom. In the most perfect sense, the single "Jew" described here in Christ. Just as the woman with the issue of blood took hold of the hem of his garment and was healed (Luk 8:44), so will people -- men and women -- out of ALL nations do the same. In the ribband of blue on the fringe of his robes, there is to be found ultimate spiritual healing for the greatest of all ills -- sin and death!

TEN: In this case, as in many others, 10 is a round number suggesting completeness (cp Gen 31:7; Lev 26:26; Jdg 17:10; Rth 4:2; 1Sa 1:8; Jer 41:8).

WE HAVE HEARD THAT GOD IS WITH YOU: Or, "we have heard... Immanuel (God is with us)!"

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