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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Zechariah 8

Verses 1-2

Introduction

This chapter is the sequel to Zechariah 7 and shows the other side. The chapter has two parts. Both parts are introduced by the statement that the word of the LORD comes to Zechariah (Zechariah 8:1; Zechariah 8:18).

The first part (Zechariah 8:1-Esther :) declares that, under certain conditions, the people are restored to the favor of God. The second part contains the answer to the original questions about fasting, the declaration of joy, and the spreading of the gospel (Zechariah 8:18-Isaiah :).

Both parts can be further subdivided into ten parts which all start with the statement “thus says the LORD” (Zechariah 8:2; Zechariah 8:3Zechariah 8:4; Zechariah 8:6Zechariah 8:7; Zechariah 8:9Zechariah 8:14; Zechariah 8:19Zechariah 8:20; Zechariah 8:23). We can speak of ten blessings which are the part of the people when they have been restored to God’s favor.

The First Blessing

For the third time the word of the LORD comes to Zechariah (Zechariah 8:1; Zechariah 7:1; Zechariah 7:8). After the exhortations in the previous chapter now come the promises of blessing. The first promise is the encouragement of the LORD that He is “exceedingly jealous for Zion” and that “with great wrath”. He will not abandon His people. His heart continues to beat in grace for them and He will fulfill His promises.

Twice He speaks here of His jealousy for Zion (cf. Zechariah 1:14). He expresses in a strengthening way His warm love for them, so that they will be deeply convinced of this. He wants to own the people completely and only for Himself and not share their love with anyone else.

Verse 3

The Second Blessing

The LORD has departed from Jerusalem because of the persistent sins of the people. This is described by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 9:3Ezekiel 10:3-Numbers :; Ezekiel 10:18-Psalms :Ezekiel 11:22-Isaiah :). But the LORD comes back. That happens when the Lord Jesus – He is Yahweh – will come to His people with blessing. If He returns to the city, it is only possible if faithfulness and holiness are to be found there (Isaiah 1:26; Zephaniah 3:13). This will be the case in Jerusalem. The city “will be called the City of Truth”.

Mount Zion, on which the temple will be built, will be called “the Holy Mountain”. That is not only a name, but the mountain will be truly holy. It is a mountain that is separated from all other mountains to be alone and totally dedicated to Yahweh. In the book of Isaiah, Yahweh calls this mountain “My holy mountain” several times (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 56:7Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 65:11Isaiah 65:25; Isaiah 66:20). Other prophets do the same (Jeremiah 31:23; Joel 2:1; Joel 3:17; Obadiah 1:16; Obadiah 1:17; Zephaniah 3:11; Daniel 9:16; Daniel 9:20).

Verses 4-5

The Third Blessing

This scene will become reality in the Messianic realm. That is still the future, but this look into the future is for the moment an encouragement for Zerubbabel and his people. This scene is a consequence of the truth and holiness of the previous verse. These have an effect among God’s people of harmony and joy.

With the coming of the Lord Jesus peace has come, the war is over. Everyone, even the weakest and most defenseless members of society, can be in the streets, or squares of Jerusalem without fear of advancing hostile armies. The ages will again be those of before the deluge (Isaiah 65:20; Isaiah 65:22). The promise of a long life is regarded by the Jews as one of the greatest blessings of God’s government. It is the reward for obedience (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 4:40).

The offspring will be numerous, healthy and happy. The children can play carefree. There is no more threat of war and related death or imprisonment. The hatred of the world has been stifled. The streets will be full of children playing and not of protesting people. Now the streets are still dangerous places for children, both because of traffic and of crime.

Playing children is something God also enjoys (Matthew 11:16-Esther :). Parents may take an example of this. Playing children and the enjoyment of it by the old people is a matter of God’s joy. It is not a waste of time. Old and young will live together in harmony. The scene of prosperity and contentment contrasts sharply with the poverty, confusion and dissatisfaction in which we live.

In the church the literal situation described here may already be present spiritually. There is, if all goes well, no generation gap. There is also room for the development of each stage and revelation of spiritual life. We must give boys and girls all spiritual help that is possible, both in word and example.

They are two opposing age groups, the old men and old women and the boys and girls. The old people are so old that they support their trembling limbs with a stick. On the other hand, we see children radiating energy with a joy that smiles at life. In both categories we see the goodness of the Creator.

The children are at the beginning of life. Everything in them has yet to develop. They can count on God’s help in this. With the very old we see that He has helped them, their whole long life long. He has guided them through all the changes, opportunities and dangers of this fragile life, even in the period in which they have seen their strength diminish.

Verse 6

The Fourth Blessing

The fourth blessing is an encouragement in view of the previous blessing. The scene painted in the previous verses seems an impossibility. Also for us it is hard to imagine when we look at the world situation. But for God nothing is too difficult (Genesis 18:14). We can count on Him for the realization of His will. The complicated life of today will give way to an uncomplicated life in the realm of peace.

There is then nothing that is harmful to life. Everything that makes life now so difficult and sometimes unbearable, all mental and physical illnesses and even death (Isaiah 65:18-Lamentations :), all jealousy and striving for more, are then past tense. Everyone will be perfectly happy with his part and be able to enjoy it completely. They will invite others to enjoy it (Zechariah 3:10). And all because God dwells in their midst.

Verses 7-8

The Fifth Blessing

We see that God Himself manipulates everything. Human effort is not asked for, even not expected. It is completely beyond man’s ability to realize God’s plan. In order to realize His plan, God Himself will save His people from all corners of the world wherever they are as prisoners (Zechariah 8:7). From the east, where the sun rises, and the west, where the sun sets, they will come (Psalms 50:1; Malachi 1:11).

He will bring them to Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:8; Isaiah 11:11-2 Kings :; Isaiah 43:5-Joshua :; Ezekiel 37:21; Amos 9:14-Ezra :). They may live where He dwells. This means that they will enjoy His presence. It also means that He enjoys their presence. They are His people and He will be their God.

This will be the case because they will then completely correspond to “truth” and “righteousness”. “In truth” God will fulfill all His promises and “in truth” the people will enjoy the promises. God does this “in righteousness” because His right has been fulfilled through the work of His Son on the cross. As a result, His people will share the blessing “in righteousness”.

Verses 9-13

The Sixth Blessing

The preceding promises (Zechariah 8:1-Ruth :) are an encouragement to Zechariah and his contemporaries. Zechariah 8:9-1 Chronicles : are an encouragement and an admonition at the same time. This section begins in Zechariah 8:9 with the exhortation “let your hands be strong” and ends with it in Zechariah 8:13.

This word of exhortation comes to those who hear the words of the prophet at that moment. God’s words always contain an exhortation to do the commissioned work and at the same time give the power to do the work. Thus God’s Word also comes to us as a word for today.

In Zechariah 8:10 a motivation is given for the exhortation to let their hands be strong. That motivation lies in the contrast between the present and the former times. “Before those days,” which are the days when the rebuilding of the temple was resumed and continued, there is no reward for the people for their work. Even the animals get nothing.

After the foundation of the temple, the interest in its rebuilding disappeared. Haggai describes the cause of it. As long as they think of themselves and their own house, they are lacking. If God does not get His place and share, the cultivation of the land will yield nothing. All their efforts will yield nothing compared to the work done. The results are extremely meager, far below expectation (Haggai 1:9-1 Kings :; Haggai 2:16Haggai 2:19).

Apart from disappointing results, it is also wrong with the living conditions. There is no peace “for him who went out or came in”. There is no safety and security to enjoy the little result of the hard toil in peace. The dissatisfaction is not caused by an enemy from outside, but by internal distrust. Everyone is the opponent of the other. These internal divisions and quarrels are sent to them by God. It is His discipline on their seeking their own interests while neglecting His home.

For us, there is always the danger that we are more committed to our own homes and interests than to the house of God and His interests. The most important must come first.

But the LORD will no longer do so with them, for “now … the remnant of this people” is occupied with His house (Zechariah 8:11). Because they are no longer as they were in the previous days, He will no longer be so for them. This means that He will no longer discipline them, for they are no longer neglecting His house in favor of building their own houses.

In Zechariah 8:11 is written what the LORD will no longer be to them. Then in Zechariah 8:12 the LORD tells them what He will be to them. He will give the seed peace, which means He will give them a rich harvest. The same goes for the vine. This will be done by the dew of heaven. Heaven, God, is the origin of blessing. He will make the remnant enjoy all that blessing as their own possession.

Seeing the blessings will give us strength to do the work the Lord has commanded us to do. Those who seek something for God will receive so much blessing that they cannot comprehend it all.

In Zechariah 8:13 the thoughts go further into the future. Here Judah and Israel are mentioned together. Judah, the two tribes, and Israel, the ten tribes, will again be united into one nation. They will be united under one Head, Jesus Christ.

Among the nations the Jews are often seen as a curse. They are blamed for all kinds of disasters. In general, the people are always despised by the nations. God will change that. His people will be recognized and honored by the nations.

For us, the preceding verses mean that we, too, have no prosperity if we think only or mainly of our own affairs. Blessing will be there if we first think of God’s house, the church. The blessings of the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3-2 Chronicles :) will again be enjoyed by us if we give God’s house the first place. We cannot imitate the church life of Acts, but we can listen to God’s Word for our time.

Verses 14-17

The Seventh Blessing

In Zechariah 8:14-Ezra : God takes the initiative. He has not rejected them forever. He makes His Word come true. When they sinned, He had to punish them (Zechariah 8:14). That is what He had intended and that is what He has done. In His discipline He had to do them harm. But that time is over. He brought them back to Himself. They serve Him and His interests.

Therefore, He has “again purposed … to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah” (Zechariah 8:15; Jeremiah 31:28). His actions are always in accordance with what He has intended to do. He never has to go back on anything. “He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).

Just as the punishment of exile came upon Israel through the purpose of God, so now there is a purpose of the LORD to do good to Judah. He says through Jeremiah: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11). They do not have to fear that He does not do what He has purposed to do Himself, for good.

What He has done according to His purpose for evil, emphasizes all the more that He will do for good what He has purposed. That He has kept His Word that He has spoken for evil, is the guarantee that He will keep His Word that He has spoken for good.

They can count on His blessing. But there is also another side. He expects something from them. That something is written in Zechariah 8:16-Esther :. In Zechariah 8:16 it is about deeds, in Zechariah 8:17 about thoughts, the heart. The first thing God wants to happen is for them to “speak the truth to one another”. Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth (Zechariah 8:3). This means that its inhabitants will speak truth to one another. Falsehood does not suit a person or a people who is in connection with the God of truth. Speaking the truth is always a blessing.

For us, members of God’s church, this is also an assignment. Paul quotes this verse in his letter to the Ephesians. He gives as reason: “For we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). Because we are connected to each other as members of the same body, speaking truth is not only a benefit for the other, but also for the speaker himself. When truth is spoken, it strengthens the bond between the members of God’s people, while lying damages that bond.

Speaking truth should certainly and especially be done in lawsuits. The gate is the place where justice takes place (Genesis 19:1; Ruth 4:1; Amos 5:10; Amos 5:12). If a judgment is pronounced there that is in accordance with the truth, it will serve peace. There will be no contradiction or rebellion. A judgment that is in accordance with the truth will find general agreement.

In Zechariah 8:17 is written what God hates. Both things mentioned are the sum of the two stone tablets of the law. He who loves his neighbor will think no evil in his heart against his brother or sister. He will be out for the good of the other. Loving perjury means linking God’s Name to injustice and lies. In both cases it is about the inner attitude. God does not only say that it is wrong, but that He hates it.

Verses 18-19

The Eighth Blessing

Here God answers the question concerning days of fasting. They will be days that are held full of joy. The reason for this is that they will realize that those days of fasting have their reason in their own unfaithfulness. When there is acknowledgment of sins, earlier burdens become activities that are performed full of joy.

The LORD does not say that they should not fast. He lists again the two days of fasting He mentioned in the previous chapter – fasting in the fifth and seventh month (Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 7:5) – and adds two more. This brings the number of days of fasting to four.

The days of fasting are linked to four terrible events in the recent history of Israel and serve as a reminder of those terrible events.
1. The fasting in the fourth month is in remembrance of the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:3-Numbers :; Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6-Judges :).
2. The fasting in the fifth month takes place because of the destruction of the city and the temple (2 Kings 25:8-1 Samuel :; Jeremiah 52:12-1 Chronicles :).
3. The fasting in the seventh month takes place in memory of the murder of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:1-Esther :; 2 Kings 25:25).
4. The fasting in the tenth month is because of the siege of Jerusalem which began on the tenth day of the tenth month (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 4:1; Ezekiel 24:2).

Against the background of the days of fasting instituted by the people themselves, the LORD calls for the love of truth and peace. First love of truth is mentioned and then love of peace (2Tim2:22). There can be no peace without truth. God has spoken the truth, therefore they (and we) will love the truth. On the basis of truth He gives peace, therefore they (and we) will love peace.

If the people love truth and peace, they will condemn their past. After all, the reasons for fasting lie in their own unfaithfulness and deviation. If they acknowledge this, these different reasons for fasting will be transformed into joy and cheerful feasts. A feast is a common thing. People come together to be happy together.

The LORD will change these days of fasting into days of joy and cheerful feasts. This means that He will give them such full riches of salvation that Judah will no longer think of the earlier sad events. The new situation of blessing washes away all the suffering and sorrow of the past. There is only joy because of the blessings given to them by the grace of God (Isaiah 35:10).

Verses 20-22

The Ninth Blessing

The blessing will not be limited to the house of Judah (Zechariah 8:15), but will also extend to the peoples and inhabitants of cities outside Israel (Zechariah 8:20). Once Israel is converted, it will attract the world to go to that land (Isaiah 2:1-Deuteronomy :; Micah 4:1-Deuteronomy :). Contrary to the few and weak Jews who are now building the temple, there will be an enormous appeal from this people in the future. As a result, many people and mighty nations will come to Jerusalem. Their goal is to seek the LORD and worship Him there and thereby “entreat the favor of the LORD” (Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 66:23).

The fact that the inhabitants will go from one city to another shows their concern for each other’s spiritual well-being (Zechariah 8:21). They want to encourage others to go to the place of worship and blessing “at once”. There is no time to lose. They not only encourage others, but set a good example, “I will also go”. They will take the lead themselves. The others can follow.

They show zeal for the honor and glory of God in their willingness to honor God in the place where He dwells. There is no better method for fathers to stimulate and motivate their families to go to the church meeting than to go first themselves. A good example will stimulate good followers.

Also the nations will realize that to entreat the favor of the LORD is only possible by acknowledging Him in His rights (Zechariah 8:22). They have not done this before, but they are doing it now. This also means that they will ask for His will, how He wants to be served and worshiped. They will ask for His law. This case requires the greatest urgency. They want to seek the face of the LORD. This means that only He is the object of their prayers and no longer something of creation or self-made idols.

Verse 23

The Tenth Blessing

The grasping of the slip is not done to terrorize the Jew, but indicates the desire for the blessing and privileges that the Jews possess (Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12). Grasping the garment is the gesture of a supplicant (Isaiah 3:6; Isaiah 4:1).

Though God must work in the hearts, He would like to use the testimony of the believers to persuade people to ask for Him. Because the ten men have heard that God is with the Jews, they want to go with them. What they have heard, they have also believed. They have come because they want to share in the religious privileges of the Jews.

There is a great lack of happiness and joy in the world. If happiness and joy are found in the connection with the Lord and with each other among the believers, it will attract people from the world. They will ask us to go with us to a place where the Lord Jesus is worshiped. It is a good gospel preaching. When unbelievers come into the church, it is possible that they come to the acknowledgment that God is present (1 Corinthians 14:25).

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 8". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/zechariah-8.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.