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Zechariah 8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 19, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

The background to Zechariah, like that of Haggai, is found in the book of Ezra.

After having been captive in Babylon for seventy years, the Jews are given permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.

When the Temple construction is stopped, it was Haggai and Zechariah who began to prophesy and encourage the people to finish the Temple. (Ezra 5:1-2)

After the people began to build, opposition arose from their enemies, and for a period of 15 years, the Temple construction was halted.

It was then that God raised up two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, who began to encourage the people to get back to work and make God’s House a priority.

(Ezra 5:1–2 NKJV) —1 Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 2 So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
It was under the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah that the work got stirred up again.
The Temple won’t be complete until March 12, 515 BC (Ezr 6:15-18)

The prophecies of Zechariah are given during the years of 520-518 BC.

One of the key distinctions of the book of Zechariah is the amount of prophecy about the coming Messiah.

Except for the prophet Isaiah, there are more prophecies about the Messiah in this book than any other Old Testament book.
One set of scholars list 41 quotes or allusions to Zechariah in the New Testament.

It seems that Zechariah has dated each of his prophecies, like Haggai did.

The first prophecy is 1:1-6
It was given on 08/??/02
The second prophecy is 1:7 – 6:15
Hag.2:10-19 talks about how “uncleanness” defiles everything it touches.

Haggai’s prophecy was given on 9/24/02

In Zec. 3 God talks about Joshua the high priest being “filthy”, but being cleansed.

Zechariah’s prophecy was given 11/24/02

The third prophecy is 7:1 – 14:21
Some suggest that only 7:1-7 are tied to the last date, and the rest of the book is undated.

Chapters 1-6 contained a series of eight “night visions”, all of which Zechariah received from God on a single night.

They all took place on February 15, 519 BC.

Chapter 7 started our current section with a prophecy that came as an answer to an envoy sent from the city of Bethel to ask whether or not they should keep performing the national “fast” in the fifth month.  The answer continues…

1:1-23 Zion’s Future

:1 Again the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying,

:1 the word of the Lord of hosts

Even though we’ve been seeing God speak plenty to Zechariah, this chapter is a bit special.

God’s name, Yahweh, translated “Lord” in all capital letters, is used 22 times.

God has a message in this chapter, and He wants you to hear what He has to say.

The last chapter was much about rebuking the people for their fake religiousness.

Now that God has their attention, He wants to give them a clear course for the future.
“Repentance” is not just about turning from our sin, it’s about turning to God.
Repentance is not just about stopping our bad behavior, but it’s about replacing our bad behavior with healthy behavior.

:2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.’

:2 I am zealous for Zion

:2 I am zealousqana– to be jealous, envious, zealous

:2 zealqin’ah ardour, zeal, jealousy

:2 fervorchemah – heat, rage, hot displeasure, indignation, anger, wrath, poison, bottles

:2 I am zealousqana– to be jealous, envious, zealous

God uses the same word (zeal) three times, and even adds the word “fervor”.

The words describe God’s passion for Jerusalem.

The main word can describe a person who gets red in the face – either red from anger, or red from passion.

When Zechariah receives this from the Lord, the Temple is still two years away from completion.

The city is in ruins.  It will still be another sixty years before Nehemiah shows up to rebuild Jerusalem.
It’s only after the walls are rebuilt that the city will start to be considered a safe place to live and people will actually start living in Jerusalem.
In Zechariah’s day, Jerusalem was still a dangerous place to live.
Think of the pictures you’ve seen of European cities that were bombed during World War II.
Does God care about Jerusalem?  Yes indeed.

It might seem strange to the people of Jerusalem to hear God say that He has such a passion for them, when their city is lying in ruins.

Yet we’ve already seen that difficult times, and even times when God has been disciplining us, are not signs of God not loving us, but just the opposite.
(Hebrews 12:5–6 NKJV) —5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

:3 “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.’

:3 I will return to Zion

Early in the Babylonian captivity, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the glory of God departing from the Temple and leaving Jerusalem. (Eze 10:18; 11:22-23)

(Ezekiel 10:18 NKJV) —18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.
(Ezekiel 11:22–23 NKJV) —22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. 23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

Now God promises that there will be day when He will return to Jerusalem.

Ultimately, this has not happened yet.
This will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and rules and reigns over the earth from Jerusalem.

:3 (Jerusalem shall be called) the City of Truth

truthemeth – faithfulness, truth; reliability

Pay attention to this word in our passage.  See how many times it shows up (5)

If Jerusalem is going to be known as a city of “truth”, what kind of people do you suppose will live in it?

People of truth.

:3 The Mountain of the Lord of hosts

Jerusalem sits on mount Moriah. It will be known as God’s mountain.

:3 The Holy Mountain

It will be known as a “holy” mountain, a place that is pure.

:4 “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.

:5 The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets.’

:4 Old men and old women

Not all old people “sit” in the streets.  Some dance.

Video:  Old Gal Dancing

Some even drive

Video:  What Old People Do For Fun

The place will have been settled and secured so much that people will be able to safely grow old in the city, and children will play in the streets.

When Jesus returns, people will live for a really long time. (Is. 65:20)

Isaiah writes,
(Isaiah 65:20 NKJV) “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

:5 full of boys and girls

In our current society, we are tending more and more to keep our children indoors to keep them away from danger.

Not so after Jesus comes back. (Is. 11:8)
Isaiah wrote,
(Isaiah 11:8 NKJV) The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

:6 “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 hosts.

:6 If it is marvelous

marvelouspala– to be marvelous, be wonderful, be surpassing, be extraordinary, separate by distinguishing action

Even though the people of Zechariah’s day might think this was all too good to be true, it is not impossible for God.

What might seem “too marvelous” in the people’s eyes was not “too marvelous” for God.


Not too hard

What may seem to be “too hard” for you, is not “too hard” for God.
When God was telling Jeremiah that the land would one day be repopulated, Jeremiah responded:
(Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV) ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.
God told Jeremiah,
(Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?
The angel told Mary,
(Luke 1:37 NKJV) For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Jesus told His disciples,
(Luke 18:27 NKJV) But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
I’m not here to fill your mind with wild dreams of things that God might not intend for your life.
But we will be talking about the kind of people God wants to be, and frankly some of us have started to think it’s impossible.
There are bad habits we think we can’t change.
There are sins we think we can’t stop.

Nothing is impossible.

:7 “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;

:8 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.’

:7 from the land of the east … west

God is promising that one day He will be bringing Jews back to Israel from all over the world.  That’s happening today.

The captivity in Babylon is described Biblically as being in the “north”.

Using “east” and “west” represents the entire world rather than specific nations.

This means that God will one day be bringing Jews back to Israel from all around the world.

Today, Jews are returning to Israel from all around the world.
The Jews call this “Aliyah”, when they immigrate and settle in Israel.

(Malachi 1:11 NKJV) —11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the Lord of hosts.

:8 In truth

He will be their God “in truth” and righteousness

This is the same word used for “truth” in verse 3. (second time)

truthemeth – faithfulness, truth; reliability; stability

righteousnesstsedaqah – justice, righteousness

:9 “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.

:9 Let your hands be strong

More about this at the end…

This vision of the distant future is meant to encourage the people to keep going and not give up.

:9 by the mouth of the prophets

Haggai and Zechariah were the prophets that had been speaking to the people at this time.

:10 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.

:10 no peace from the enemy

After the foundation had been laid for the Temple, the enemies of the Jews worked hard to stop what was being done. (Ezr. 4:4-5)

(Ezra 4:4–5 NKJV) —4 Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

:10 no wages for man

When the people stopped building the Temple, God slowed down their economy.  He let the stock market crash.  Haggai said …

(Haggai 1:6 NKJV) “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
God did this to get their attention that they were heading the wrong way.

:11 But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ says the Lord of hosts.

:12 ‘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.

:13 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.’

:12 For the seed shall be prosperous

The people had been under God’s judgment and nothing they did prospered.

Now that the people are obeying God and have begun rebuilding, God promises to turn the economy around.

All they need to do is keep heading the right way and watch God work.

:14 “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,

:15 So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear.

:15 I am determined to do good

Before, God was determined to chastise the people.

Now God is just as determined to bless them.

:16 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;

:17 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.”

:16 These are the things you shall do

There are some very practical things that the people should be doing.

:16 Speak each man the truth to his neighbor

This is that old word for “truth” from vs. 3 (third time)

truthemeth – faithfulness, truth; reliability; stability


Living in Truth

Jerusalem will be called the “city of truth” (vs. 3)
God wants to be their God “in truth” (vs. 8)
If we are going to live in the “City of Truth”, following the God “of truth”, then we need to be people of truth.
God is all about truth.
(John 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The New Testament word translated “truth” means literally “uncovered”.

The “truth” is what you see when you pull off all the layers hiding the truth.  Truth is what things really are.  Jesus has the absolute truth about God.  He is God.

Truth is one of the qualities that defines the Christian.  Paul talks about the true Christian nature and actually quotes Zechariah:
(Ephesians 4:25 NKJV) Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

If we claim to be children of the God who is “Truth”, then we need to stop pretending to be what we aren’t.

Stop covering up things in your life.

Be “real”.

Truth is the key to growing up.
(Ephesians 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Sometimes I need to speak up and confront something that I see in another person’s life.

Believe me, that doesn’t always go over so well.

Sometimes living in truth means that I have to admit that I’ve got flaws in my own life.

I’m never going to be able to move past those flaws until I’m willing to own up to them.

Sometimes at church we act like little school kids, pretending to be in fifth grade, when in reality we’re just in second grade.

You don’t get to be in fifth grade until you do the work and pass your tests in second, third, and fourth grades.  You don’t get to be in fifth grade by just pretending.


Emperor's New Clothes

It was Hans Christian Andersen that told the story of the Emperor and his new clothes.  The great emperor was a man who liked to impress people with his clothes.  He wanted to have a new suit, the finest in the world. A pair of swindlers told him they would make a suit out of a rare, invisible cloth and only those lacking wisdom could not see the cloth.  The emperor commissioned the new wardrobe.

Finally the day came for the emperor to show off his new clothes, and he began to parade himself around the streets, naked.  The people of the city didn’t have the courage to tell the emperor the truth.  It was a small child who was brave enough to remark, “The emperor’s naked!”

God help us to be honest and stop pretending.

:16 Give judgment … for truth, justice, and peace

judgmentshaphat – to judge, govern, vindicate, punish

truthemeth – faithfulness, truth; reliability; stability

justicemishpat – judgment, justice, ordinance

peaceshalowm – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

truth – Again this is that word for “truth” from vs. 3 (fourth time)

When I think of the state of our justice system, I wonder if anyone could pull off this truth, justice, and …

Video:  Superman Intro
These are actually qualities that God wants in all His people.
These are qualities that reflect who God is.

The challenge here is that we learn to make decisions that reflect God’s truth, justice, and peace.


Making Decisions

In ancient Jewish society, the court system was located at the gates of a city.
That’s where the elders or rulers of a city would come, listen to court cases, and make their decisions.
How do we make our decisions?  How do we decide what to think about things?
Is it true?
Do we even care about what the truth is?
We tend to make most of our decisions on how things make us “feel”, not whether it’s truth.
Is it right?
Does it match what God says is right and wrong?
Is it peaceful?
(Proverbs 12:20 NKJV) —20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.
This one’s tricky.
Sometimes we make some of our decisions because we don’t want to “rock the boat”.

We avoid conflict, so we compromise when it comes to things being “true” or “right”.

Sometimes making a decision for “peace” is difficult because the other person does not want to recognize what is true and right.

:17 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.”

:17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor

It’s not hard to become cynical in this world.  People let you down.

I’ve heard it said that if you assume the worst of people, you’ll never be disappointed.

But God wants us to assume the best of people and only accept the worst when we’re faced with overwhelming evidence.

One of my favorite TV shows is “NCIS”.

Since it’s a show about the “Navy” Criminal Intelligence Service, there is a bit of a “pro-Navy” and “pro-Marine” slant to the plots.
Spoiler Alert:  9 out of 10 times, even if at the beginning it looks as if the bad guy is the Marine in custody, Leroy Jethro Gibbs will usually end up proving that the Marine was the good guy doing the right thing.
In our justice system we call it “innocent until proven guilty”.
Paul calls it “love”.  Paul said that love …
(1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV) … believes all things…

I think that means that we believe the best, if possible.

:17 do not love a false oath

A false oath is a fake promise.  When a person swears that they are telling the truth, when they are in fact lying and have no intention of doing what they promise.

This goes back to the “truth” stuff.

:18 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,

:19 “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.’

:19 The fast of the fourth … fifth … seventh … tenth

fourth month – when Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:3-4).

fifth month – when the Temple and other buildings were burnt.

seventh month – in memory of when the Babylonian-appointed governor Gedaliah was assassinated.

tenth month – remembered the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BC (2 Kings 25:1).

These are the fasts we mentioned in the last chapter, and they all commemorated various parts of their defeat by the Babylonians.

All of these fasts will one day be turned to feasts.  This happens when Jesus returns.

There is a little historical evidence that the Jews might have stopped fasting on these days after the time of Zechariah.

Yet by the time the Romans came and destroyed the second Temple, they had reinstituted the same fasts, commemorating the same terrible times around the Babylonian invasion (not the Roman invasion).

:19 Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts

Ultimately, this time of joy is the future when Jesus comes back. (Is. 61:3)

Isaiah wrote of this same time,

(Isaiah 61:3 NKJV) To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

:19 love truth and peace

Again, the word for “truth” from vs. 3 (fifth time).  Is God concerned that we understand “truth”?  Absolutely.

:20 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Peoples shall yet come, Inhabitants of many cities;

:21 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.”

:22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the Lord.’

:22 Shall come to seek the Lord

It is kind of interesting to think that this entire prophecy started back in chapter 7 with envoys from the city of Bethel coming to ask whether or not they should keep fasting in the fifth month.

After Jesus comes back, it won’t just be people from Bethel coming up to Jerusalem, but people from all around the world.

These are prophecies about the days after Jesus returns.

People from all around the world will be coming to seek God in Jerusalem.
Ultimately, there will be a day when every day of public fasting will be turned into a day of feasting.
God will turn our sorrow into joy.

:23 “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.” ’ ”

:23 God is with you


Being a light

God intended Israel to be a light to the world.
But instead of living lives that demonstrated God’s truth, the people had rebelled against God.
Now God challenges them to live right and represent Him well.
The message to Zechariah’s day was that they were to start living like they were supposed to:
(Zechariah 8:16–17 NKJV) —16 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; 17 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.”
We need to be God’s light to others.
We need to tell people about God’s love.

We need to tell people that God loved them so much that He gave His only Son to die in their place so they could be forgiven.

But like Israel, when our lives don’t match our words, nobody wants to listen.
When your life DOES match the words, you will find times when people will grab you by the sleeve and say, “Let me go with you, I hear you know God…”
Jesus said,
(Matthew 5:14–16 NKJV) —14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

The light in your life is connected with the kind of life (good works) you live.

:9 Let your hands be strong


Don’t quit

The message was for the people building the Temple.
They hadn’t finished the work yet.
God doesn’t give us glimpses of the future just so we can add to our knowledge of Bible Trivia.
The future Kingdom of God is meant to keep us focused on where we’re headed.
It’s easy to get discouraged, put the hammers and chisels down and just quit. Yet several times in this chapter the message has come through, “Be strong”.
(Zechariah 8:9 NKJV) “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong…
(Zechariah 8:13 NKJV) …Do not fear, Let your hands be strong.’
And so God paints a picture for them of the future.
He gives them a picture of what they’re making.
He shows gives them a glimpse of the city of the future.
A man came to a construction site, where stonemasons were working. The man said to one, “What are you doing?”
The first stonemason said, “You can see, I’m chipping a stone.”
The man walked over to another mason and said, “What are you doing?”
He answered, “I’m building a wall.”
The man walked over to a third mason and said, “What are you doing?”
This mason answered, “I am building a cathedral.”

All three were doing the same thing, but what a difference perspective makes!

God has plans for you. He has things for you to build.
Your goal in life might be to find a spouse.
Your goal in life might be to get a promotion.
Your goal in life might be to retire.
Those are all fine goals, but I hope that’s not where you stop.  You need to think bigger.  You need to think in terms of eternity.
Video:  Francis Chan Rope Illustration

Friends, keep your eye on the big picture, eternity.  Don’t quit.

Sometimes we get discouraged because of how hard it is to build a life that honors God.
Remember the future God desires for you.

(Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Keep your eye on the goal.  Paul wrote,

(Philippians 3:14 NKJV) I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Don’t quit.