Zechariah Bible Study # 12
The Positive Answer on the Question of Fasts
A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“I am zealous for Zion—I care!
I’m angry about Zion—I’m involved!”
3 “I’ve come back to Zion,
I’ve moved back to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem’s new names will be Truth City,
and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
and Mount Holiness.”
4-5 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in.”
6 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say.”
7-8 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“I’ll collect my people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I’ll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God. I’ll stick with them and do right by them.”
9-10 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. We’ve come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp.
11-12 “But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people:
Sowing and harvesting will resume,
Vines will grow grapes,
Gardens will flourish,
Dew and rain will make everything green.
12-13 “My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”
14-17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don’t be afraid. And now here’s what I want you to do: Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest.” Decree of God.
18-19 Again I received a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“The days of mourning set for the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be turned into days of feasting for Judah—celebration and holiday. Embrace truth! Love peace!”
20-21 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“People and their leaders will come from all over to see what’s going on. The leaders will confer with one another: ‘Shouldn’t we try to get in on this? Get in on God’s blessings? Pray to God-of-the-Angel-Armies? What’s keeping us? Let’s go!’
22 “Lots of people, powerful nations—they’ll come to Jerusalem looking for what they can get from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, looking to get a blessing from God.”
23 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“At that time, ten men speaking a variety of languages will grab the sleeve of one Jew, hold tight, and say, ‘Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is with you.’” THE MESSAGE
Chapter 7 was harsh words, meant to stir the people to repentance. Chapter 8 is the comforting words now given to a people who have repented. These are prophecies from God's word. True promises from Him about a specific people and their specific land. When people try to rob these promises it results in pride and a loathing of Jerusalem and the Jew. The Bible calls us to acknowledge that we are “no better than our fathers,” but then it challenges us to take up the grace and mercy offered by God to be better than our fathers. We acknowledge that our hearts are no better than them, while we cry out for mercy to live this life in the power of the Holy Spirit and so to be, better than them through grace and faith.
The repeated emphasis on the Lord of heaven's armies, or the Lord Almighty is reassurance that He has all the power He needs to do what He says He will do.
Jerusalem is a specific name of a specific city. You would think that that would not need to be stated, but many are the 'scholars' who will try to work their way around that simple truth. God is angry against the nations who have taken His discipline further than He would have liked. He is jealous as the bridegroom of a bride who has been abused.
David Baron puts it this way. “And the fervent inalienable love of Jehovah for His people will manifest itself, not only in His wrath and indignation against the nations who have oppressed and persecuted them, but in the full restoration of the long interrupted communion.”
“I've come back to Zion, I've moved back to Jerusalem,” is too big of a promise to try and make it fit into the return of Ezra and the remnant after the exile. In fact the glory of God never did return to that temple.
Verse 3 – Jerusalem has never been called “The city of truth” or “truth city” so there is a prophecy, a promise of God that has yet to be fulfilled. There is yet to come in the earth “a visible and manifest reign—in and from Mount Zion, in the midst of restored and converted Israel, of Him Whose Name is 'Immanuel' –which being interpreted is 'God with us.'” D. Baron
Hosea and all the prophets speak of this time. Hosea 5:15-6:3
5:15”I will go away and return to My placeUntil they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
6:1“Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.2 “He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
I highlighted the “until” because that is the catalyst for His return, to His rightful place.
Verses 4 and 5 – Speak of the God who protects the old in their infirmity and the young in their risk-taking, perpetual motion childhood.
Verse 6 – Then this statement is put in a, “message from the Lord of hosts,” sandwich, “This seems unbelievable to you—a remnant, small, discouraged as you are—but it is no great thing for Me.” One of the reasons for the long delay of history in the fulfillment of this is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not the work of man but the supernatural work of God.
Verse 7,8 – The Jerusalem that God is bringing them back to, is an amazing city without walls, so the argument that it is not big enough is out the door. “They shall be my people and I will be their God.” BAM God's unconditional promise based on His unconditional choice, and those of us who were purchased in the same way through the blood of Jesus, should rejoice that one day the same thing will happen to a whole nation. That “happening” will begin the restoration of the earth that will take place during the 1,000 year reign of Christ, the day of rest, as it is displayed for all to see the beauty of government when Christ is the head.
Jeremiah is another example of a prophet who declared this promise and his language is even stronger. Jeremiah 32:38 “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”
When the Lord of all the earth says that He is going to do something with “all My heart and with all My soul” we should definitely pay attention.
Verse 9-12 – Be encouraged, 'though it tarry wait for it.' It will be better, it will be as I have promised. You don't have to settle for, 'Is this as good as it gets?' type of thinking. God will finish what He has started, He will do what He has said. The enemies are both without and within. The world is the picture of this now as stated in verse 10 “an armed camp.” There is within us 'the selfish love of ease and comfort and the unwillingness to devote our time to building the house of the Lord.' The solution is once again to behold the beauty of the Lord and to see His worth.
Verse 13 - The promise to be a blessing to the nations goes all the way back to 'Father Abraham.' God says, “it will happen.”
Verse 14,15 – Any true unbiased student of history would admit the Jew has experienced much distress and tribulation. As Bible students we recognize the hand of God in that, and we need to be just as able to recognize the hand of God in the promise of full restoration. Again, we must not miss the point that Jerusalem and Judah are specifically mentioned.
Verse 16,17 – Here God is recognizing our need not only to be saved from our outward enemies but from our inward sins. The big “IF” in Israel's being allowed to possess the land of Israel has always been their behavior and they (like us) have failed, but the promise is, 'This time when I plant you in the land, I will make you righteous.” And so the “IF” in the promise will be fulfilled by the grace of the God who put the 'if' there in the first place, to show their/our weakness and His strength. It would be good for us to consider the strong hatred that God has for devising evil in our heart against another. It definitely shows that we have not truly grasped the amount of mercy that we have been shown.
Verse 18,19 – God has laid the foundation and now He gives the “positive answer” to the question, “Should we continue fasting in remembrance of past events now that the new temple is being completed?” God's desire is to change the mourning to joy, gladness and cheerful feasts. Often we as individuals can look back on “bad” events in our lives and see that God was using to them to work a mysterious “good” work in our lives. Later on we can even 'celebrate' that event and see the hand of God in it.
These promises of future blessings are to act as incentives to holiness, 'love truth and righteousness.'
Verse 20 – Jehovah is going to take up His residence in Israel and that nation will be enabled to fulfill their call to the nations. What will be the reaction of the nations to this, turn of events? Isaiah 2:2-4 “Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.”
The prophets all agree, the nations will totally benefit from this. No more war, God's true judgments ruling the affairs of men. Those who want wisdom, who want to see effective government in action will have a place that they can physically visit and see, Jerusalem! What is amazing is the number of commentators and scholars who say, this is too hard, too impossible, it will never happen, the church is the total fulfillment of these verses... really, exactly what nation is hammering their swords into plowshares? Ridiculous, most of the lies in Christianity stem from Satan's very first question to man, “Did God really say...?”
The Bible teaches clearly that this 'age' ends in a blood-soaked war, where the anti-Christ and his minions are doing their best to wipe out true Christians and the Jews. This crushing of the power of man, leads to the next age, where truth and justice finally reign, because God's grace makes it happen. Instead of listening to people (even brilliant 'Christian' scholars) who say these promises could never happen, let's just “shut up” and read the word of God!
Verse 21,22 – “Let's go, get up, get up, let's go,” this is the tangible enthusiasm of the nations to go and seek God. With an even greater desire than we currently see them seeking entertainment and pleasure they will seek God. They will not have to question, where is He? Everyone will know, Jerusalem is the place. It will be at the center of the horrible war and it will be at the center of the millennial reign of Christ. The inhabitants of one city going to another reminds us of Andrew who had to go tell Simon about Jesus, and Phillip who had to go tell Nathanael. When you know good news you want to spread it.
Verse 23 – We can share in this goal also, without acting like we are the total fulfillment of these words. We can live lives that are so 'one with God' that people see Him in us, and know that if they grab a hold of us, we will lead them to Him. Ultimately this 'broken nation' will experience what has never happened in the history of the world, a 'national conversion' and the Spirit of God will be in each one of them and they will shine and draw people to their God. IMPOSSIBLE with man, but possible to God!
(David Baron spent chapter 13 of his book defending the fact that Zechariah is the author of the book of Zechariah. I will skip that but stick with his numbering system, so our next study will be #14.)