A. Israel restored to God’s favor.
1. (1-2) The LORD says: My passionate love for Israel has not diminished.
Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal;
With great fervor I am zealous for her.’
a. Thus says the LORD of hosts: God introduced Himself with a title declaring His power and majesty. He is the LORD of hosts, with hosts referring to the armies of heaven. The title itself is a wake-up call.
b. I am zealous for Zion with great zeal: The word for zealous in the ancient Hebrew comes from the idea “to become intensely red.” It has the thought of a face becoming flushed with deep emotion. This shows that God is passionately concerned for His people.
2. (3) The LORD says: Jerusalem will be restored.
“Thus says the LORD:
‘I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the LORD of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’”
a. I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: God’s people and city will be transformed by the presence of the LORD.
b. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth…the Holy Mountain: Because of God’s presence the city will be transformed into a place of truth and holiness. When God’s presence is real and embraced in our lives, we become people of Truth and Holy people.
i. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul describes this process of transformation: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
3. (4-5) The LORD says: Jerusalem will be a thriving, safe place.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Old men and old women shall again sit
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Each one with his staff in his hand
Because of great age.
The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets.’
a. Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem: Because of the difficulty and hardship of returning to Jerusalem, there were probably few old people in the city, and their absence was felt. But the LORD promised that all that would change one day and young and old together would enjoy the city in safety. This was a significant promise because in Zechariah’s time Jerusalem’s walls were ruined and the city was not safe and secure for old men and old women or for boys and girls playing in its streets.
b. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets: Dr. J. Vernon McGee took this as meaning that there would be no cars in the millennial Jerusalem.
4. (6) The LORD says: Even if it is too amazing for you, is it too hard for Me?
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days,
Will it also be marvelous in My eyes?’
Says the LORD of hosts.
a. If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people: The promise of a transformed, prosperous, safe Jerusalem seemed a little too fantastic to believe when the city was half-built, and the walls wouldn’t be completed for another 60 years.
b. Will it also be marvelous in My eyes? Just because it seemed too big in the eyes of man, it was not too marvelous for the LORD. As Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
i. “I remember when a boy being taken to see the residence of one of our nobility, and the good friend who took me noticed my astonishment at the largeness of the house. I was amazed at it, having never seen anything like it, and so I said, ‘What a house for a man to live in!’ ‘Bless you, boy,’ said he, ‘this is only the kitchen!’ I was only looking at the servants’ apartments, and was astonished at the grandeur thereof; but the mansion itself was a far nobler affair. Oftentimes when you see what the Lord has done, you are ready to cry out, ‘How can all this be? His goodness, his mercy, is it as great as this?’ Rest assured that you have only seen a little of his goodness, as it were the kitchen of his great house: you have not seen the palace of the Most High, where he reveals his full power and splendour.” (Spurgeon)
5. (7-8) The LORD says: Israel will be gathered, far more than the few who have returned thus far.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east
And from the land of the west;
I will bring them back,
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
In truth and righteousness.’
a. I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west: Proportionately, few among the exiles returned to the Promised Land. God promised a gathering from exile to come that would far surpass the present gathering.
b. They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness: The gathering God promised will not just be a geographic gathering, but also a spiritual gathering. It won’t just be that their address changes, but their hearts also.
6. (9-13) The LORD says: take courage; finish the work, for I will bless you.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Let your hands be strong,
You who have been hearing in these days
These words by the mouth of the prophets,
Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid
For the house of the LORD of hosts,
That the temple might be built.
For before these days
There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast;
There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in;
For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor.
But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ says the LORD of hosts.
For the seed shall be prosperous,
The vine shall give its fruit,
The ground shall give her increase,
And the heavens shall give their dew–
I will cause the remnant of this people
To possess all these.
And it shall come to pass
That just as you were a curse among the nations,
O house of Judah and house of Israel,
So I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.
Do not fear,
Let your hands be strong.’
a. Let your hands be strong: This encouraging command was for those who had heard the words of the prophets in the day the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD of hosts. The foundation was set more than fifteen years before. Though they faced a lack of resources (no wages for man) and opposition (no peace from the enemy), God wanted them to find strength for the work (let your hands be strong) in His promise.
b. I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days: God allowed a period of difficulty but would not allow it to last forever. He would bring prosperity and blessing to the once afflicted nation.
c. You shall be a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong: Though their present state was lowly, God wanted Israel to trust in His promise of blessing, and let the promise encourage them to diligent, strong service.
7. (14-17) The LORD says: I am determined to bless My people.
“For thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Just as I determined to punish you
When your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’
Says the LORD of hosts,
‘And I would not relent,
So again in these days
I am determined to do good
To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
Do not fear.
These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace;
Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor;
And do not love a false oath.
For all these are things that I hate,’
Says the LORD.”
a. Just as I determined to punish you when your fathers provoked Me…in these days I am determined to do good: God promised blessing to Israel instead of cursing, and He promised it on the principle of the Mosaic covenant.
i. “God’s strange work is judgment. His delight is to bless His people.” (Unger)
b. These are the things you shall do: God promised blessing to an obedient Israel and cursing to a disobedient Israel (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 28:15). If God will bless instead of curse, they must fulfill their end of the Mosaic covenant, and gain blessing instead of curses.
B. Feasting for fasting.
1. (18-19) The LORD says: in light of your glorious future, feasting is more appropriate than fasting.
Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’
a. The fast of the fourth month…shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts: Each one of these fast days commemorated a tragic day around the fall of Jerusalem. God here promised blessing so wonderful that these mournful fasts would be transformed into cheerful feasts of celebration.
i. G. Campbell Morgan said of these man-appointed fasts: “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.”
b. Therefore love truth and peace: In light of God’s promised blessing, His people should want to be more like Him – they should love truth and peace.
2. (20-22) The LORD says: the nations will stream into Jerusalem, to seek the LORD.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Peoples shall yet come,
Inhabitants of many cities;
The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying,
“Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD,
And seek the LORD of hosts.
I myself will go also.”
Yes, many peoples and strong nations
Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before the LORD.’
a. Peoples shall yet come: In Zechariah’s day not many people wanted to come to a still ruined, downtrodden city like Jerusalem. God promised a redemption so great that one day the peoples shall yet come to the glorified city.
b. Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem: This promise will ultimately be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom of Jesus. Jerusalem will be the headquarters of His kingdom, and the nations will come to seek the LORD in Jerusalem.
3. (23) The LORD says: God will give Israel such favor that the nations will see God is with them.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”
a. Ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man: This same word grasp is used for grabbing a snake by the tail (Exodus 4:4) or for grabbing a lion by its beard (1 Samuel 17:35). It means to grasp something that you must not let go of.
i. “This prophecy teaches, then, that Israel will be the means of drawing the nations of the earth to the Lord in the time of the Messiah’s reign of righteousness upon earth.” (Feinberg, cited in Barker)
ii. “We are all clinging to the seamless robe of that one Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, who because of His work on the cross is the only basis on which anyone may approach God and entreat Him for spiritual blessings.” (Boice)
b. Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you: When others see that God is with us, it attracts them to the LORD. When people see Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), they want to come to Jesus.
i. “God is never idle while he dwells in his people; for he cleanses away every kind of impurity, every kind of deceit, that where he dwells may ever be a holy place.” (Calvin)