Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Glorious Future for God’s People

1 Ask the LORD for rain in the spring (latter), for He makes the storm clouds (lightning). And He will send showers of rain, so every field becomes a lush pasture. 2 Household gods (teraphim) give worthless advice, fortune-tellers (diviners) predict only lies, and interpreters of dreams (dreamer) pronounce falsehoods (lies) that give no comfort. My people are wandering like lost sheep; they are attacked because they have no shepherd…. 6 “I will strengthen Judah and save Israel (also known as Ephraim, who was Joseph’s son); I will restore them because of My compassion (mercy). It will be as though I had never rejected them, for I am the LORD their God, who will hear their cries…. 12 By My power (in the LORD) I will make My people strong, and by My authority they will go wherever they wish. I, the LORD, have spoken!”  Zechariah 10:1-2, 6, 12, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

In chapter 10, the living LORD God through His servant Zechariah announces the future glory and restoration of His people, Israel and Judah, and the coming Cornerstone and Good Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). In fact, the prophet Zechariah highlights throughout his prophecy the future glory of God’s people and the coming Messiah-King – the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., see Zechariah 1:16-17; Zechariah 2:4-5, 10; Zechariah 3:6, 8; Zechariah 4:7; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 9:9-11). Moreover, most of the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah predict the future glory of God’s people and the coming Messiah-King from the offspring of David on His first and second advent (arrival, incarnation) (e.g., see Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 61:1-11; Isaiah 66:10-16; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Zephaniah 3:15-17; Romans 1:2).

The Good News of God (also known as the Gospel) was promised beforehand by Moses, the Old Testament prophets, and the Psalms regarding the living LORD God’s Son and Messiah-King – the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., see Matthew 1:1, 16-17; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:26-27, 32-33; Acts 17:2-3; Romans 1:2-4, 9; Romans 3:21-22; Romans 16:25-26; Galatians 3:8-9; Titus 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:10-11). Because of this coming glory, the prophet Zechariah along with other Old Testament prophets encouraged EVERYONE to humbly worship, seek, and obey the only true and living LORD God of heaven – Yahweh, also known as Jehovah, the LORD of Hosts, Ruler, King of heaven, or the Most High God (Zechariah 10:1; see also Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; 1 Samuel 2:30; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 66:1-2; Daniel 4:2, 17, 25, 32, 34, 37; Daniel 4:34-37; Daniel 6:26-27).

The Most High God is the LORD, the God of Israel, and there is no God like Him in heaven above or on earth below because He is the God of gods and the Lord of kings (e.g., see Exodus 9:14; 1 Kings 8:23, 60; Daniel 2:47; 1 Corinthians 8:4). The only true and living LORD God of heaven and earth is the Father of our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Messiah) (e.g., see Matthew 16:16; John 13:13; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 1:3, 17; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Timothy 2:5). The living LORD God and His Son Jesus Christ are One (e.g., see John 10:30, 38). Only the true and living LORD God and His Son Jesus Christ, who alone gives life and breathe, must be worshipped, praised, and obeyed (e.g., see Exodus 20:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Deuteronomy 10:14; Deuteronomy 6:13; 1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 10:16; Daniel 5:23; Matthew 4:10; Acts 14:15; Acts 17:27-28; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; 1 Timothy 2:5).

The true and living LORD God is great and mighty, and His Kingdom and dominion endure from generation and generation (e.g., see Daniel 2:44; Daniel 4:3, 34; Daniel 6:26). The Most High God of heaven is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, and He reigns and rules over every ALL the earth (e.g., see Psalm 24:1-2; Isaiah 44:6, 8; Isaiah 66:1-2; Daniel 4:17, 25-26, 32; Daniel 5:21). As the true King and Ruler of earth, only the living LORD God rescues, and He saves (e.g., see Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 43:10-11; Daniel 6:27). Since the creation of the world, the LORD God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen (e.g., see Romans 1:20).

Thus, the prophet Zechariah proclaimed only the true and living LORD God rides and controls the clouds, and only He sends the spring (latter) rains and former (fall) rains as the true Rainmaker (Zechariah 10:1; see Deuteronomy 28:12; Psalm 104:3, 13-14; Psalm 135:6-7; Jeremiah 51:15-16; Ezekiel 34:26-27). The sovereign LORD God of heaven and earth created and controls the forces of nature and sends rains (e.g., see 1 Kings 8:35-36; Joel 2:23). Only the living LORD God gives showers of rain, plants the fields, brings sunshine, and gives life and fertility (Zechariah 10:1; see also Jeremiah 14:22; Amos 5:8; Matthew 5:45). The living LORD God Almighty controls the world and not humans nor idols (e.g., see Psalm 83:18; Psalm 103:19; Jeremiah 27:4-5; Daniel 4:17). Therefore, Zechariah urged EVERYONE to place their total dependence and trust in the living LORD God for EVERYTHING in their lives as Provider. The living LORD God can ALWAYS be trusted, even during joys and troubles! REPENT, OBEY, and SUBMIT to the Living LORD GOD.

Zechariah reveals how foolish to pursue and trust in idols, money, and false gods for our blessings and security (Zechariah 10:2; see also Isaiah 44:25-26). Often, idols and false gods were used for divination, witchcraft, and sorcerers to bring protection, fertility, and blessing (e.g., see 2 Kings 23:24; Ezekiel 21:21). Diviners were included among false prophets, and they were the occult counterpart to God’s true prophets (e.g., see Jeremiah 27:9-10). The living LORD God expressly forbids seeking and depending upon such idols and false prophets for guidance and information (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14). These gods and idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone are hopeless and have no power before the true and living LORD God (Zechariah 10:2; see also 1 Samuel 5:1-5; Isaiah 44:24-25; Jeremiah 10:14-15; Jeremiah 16:19-21)! Even more, NO idol, fortuneteller, magicians, astrologer, lucky charm, false gods, or spiritualist can bring rain clouds and heavenly blessings (e.g., see Jeremiah 14:22). All such worthless idols, false prophets, sorcerers, and psychics are nothing, because they spout nonsense, tell lies, and false dreams (Zechariah 10:2; see also Jeremiah 10:8; Habakkuk 2:18-20; Acts 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:4). These false and phony idols, prophets, and spiritualist are filled with evil deeds, greed, and bad fruit, and they are in allegiance with Satan (see Matthew 7:15-20).

Even worse, such greedy and selfish workers of Satan are scoundrels and thieves that abuse God’s people, and they lead God’s people – the flock – away from the Most High God and His moral commands (e.g., see Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Jeremiah 23:25-30; Ezekiel 34:1-6; John 10:10, 13 ). These evil and false religious leaders run from the flock at the sign of any danger and trouble (Zechariah 10:2; see also John 10:1, 12-13). Moreover, the living LORD God warns EVERYONE to FLEE such false idols and evil shepherds and those that seek to worship mediums, diviners, and sorcery (e.g., see Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 4:25-31; Isaiah 44:9-10; Jeremiah 23:16; Acts 14:15; Acts 17:29; 19:26).

Therefore, the living LORD God declared that His anger burned against these lazy, evil, and egotistical shepherds (Zechariah 10:3; see also Isaiah 56:10-11; Ezekiel 34:7-10). Because of their evil and wickedness, the living LORD God promised to punish these evil leaders – these goats (Zechariah 10:3; see also Isaiah 56:9-12; Jeremiah 23:1-3; Jeremiah 25:34-36; Ezekiel 34:17). Zechariah saw the people with no good shepherds for guidance and protection, and they wandered with no hope (Zechariah 10:2; see also Ezekiel 34:5-6, 8; Matthew 9:36).

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS! The LORD God Almighty through His prophet Zechariah promised He would come and care for His flock, Israel and Judah because He is the Good Shepherd and Savior of His people (Zechariah 10:3; see also Psalm 23:1; Ezekiel 34:10-16, 22). Also, the living LORD God promised to make Israel and Judah strong and glorious like a majestic stallion in battle and restore her fortunes (Zechariah 10:3; see also Joel 2:25; Zephaniah 2:7).

The living LORD God announced He would send His Cornerstone to care and shepherd His people (see Zechariah 10:4). In other words, the living LORD God Himself would visit and save His people through His Cornerstone and Son, Jesus the Messiah (Zechariah 10:4; see also Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11; Jeremiah 23:4-6; Ezekiel 34:11-12, 22-24, 31; Matthew 1:21, 23; Luke 1:68, 78; Luke 7:16-17). The living LORD God coming to earth through His Son Jesus is called the “Incarnation.” Many scholars understand Cornerstone, Tent Peg, and Battle Bow as Old Testament titles for the Messiah (Zechariah 10:4; see also Isaiah 22:20-23; Zechariah 9:13). Then, everyone will know that the living LORD God loves and cares for His people (e.g., see Ezekiel 34:30-31; John; 3:15-17).

Truly, Jesus the Messiah is the Cornerstone of God, the long-awaited Offspring of David, and Good Shepherd predicted by the Old Testament prophets from the tribe of Judah (Zechariah 10:4; see also e.g., Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 61:1-11; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Matthew 1:1, 16-17; Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:4-7; Revelation 22:16). Jesus the Messiah is the sure foundation and precious stone of Zion predicted by the Old Testament prophets (e.g., see Isaiah 28:16; Daniel 2:34-35, 45; Matthew 7:24-25; Luke 20:17; Romans 9:33; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-22). Even more, Jesus is the Good Shepherd of God that loves, heals, and cares for the flock – God’s people (John 10:11-18; see also e.g., Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 9:35-38; Mark 6:34). Also, Jesus the Messiah is the Gate that leads ALL PEOPLE – Jews and Gentiles – to His loving and gracious Father, the living LORD God (e.g., Matthew 7:13-14: John 10:2, 7; 9-10, 16, 30, 32; 38; John 14:6; Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16). He gave His life to protect and save His sheep because He is the battle or military bow that brings peace (Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 10:4; see also e.g., John 10:11, 17-18; Acts 4:10-12; Acts 10:43). Furthermore, Jesus calls and empowers His followers (disciples) to continue His compassionate work, care for the flock as His shepherds, and live good lives for His Father’s glory (e.g., see Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 9:37-38; Matthew 28:18-20; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28-31).

With Jesus as the Ruler and Cornerstone, the living LORD God promises that His faithful and obedient people, Israel and Judah, will become mighty warriors and utterly defeat their enemies (Zechariah 10:5; see also Zechariah 9:15). Israel and Judah will be so strong and victorious because the LORD God is with them as they fight, and their enemy is doomed (Zechariah 10:5; see also Psalm 20:7). Moreover, the living LORD God promises that He will strengthen and save His faithful people, Israel and Judah, and restore them because of His great love, mercy, and compassion for His people (Zechariah 10:6, 12; see also Isaiah 14:1; Jeremiah 3:18). Even more, the living LORD God will be with Israel and Judah as though He had never rejected and cast them all away (see Zechariah 10:6). The living LORD God promises to hear cries of His faithful and obedient people and help them whenever they call to Him in prayer (Zechariah 10:6; see also Psalm 34:17-20; Isaiah 58:9-10; Zechariah 13:9).

In the past, the living LORD God punished Israel and Judah because of their many sins, idolatry, falsehood, and wayward hearts (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Kings 21:9-16; 2 Kings 22:15-17; 2 Kings 24:20-25:7; Jeremiah 39:1-7; Jeremiah 52:3-11; Daniel 9:11-14; Zechariah 8:13). Zechariah proclaimed that the living LORD God sowed and scattered His people Israel and Judah into faraway lands away from His land Palestine because of their wickedness, idolatry, and evil against Him and His covenant (Zechariah 7:14; Zechariah 10:9; e.g., see also Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:26-27; Deuteronomy 28:36, 64; Deuteronomy 29:28).

In the future, the living LORD God promised FULL restoration, unity, and blessings for His faithful people, Israel and Judah – also known as the remnant (Zechariah 10:6, 10; e.g., see Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 60:1-5; Ezekiel 34:25-31; Zechariah 8:7-8, 13; Zechariah 14:11). The united Israel and Judah will be mighty and strong warriors filled with joy and laughter (Zechariah 10:7; see also Jeremiah 31:10-12). The children of Israel and Judah will see the living LORD God’s mercies upon their people’s lives, and their hearts will rejoice with gladness (see Zechariah 10:7). When the living LORD God calls and gathers Israel and Judah, His people will come running (see Zechariah 10:8). The living LORD God promises to redeem Israel and Judah (see Zechariah 10:8). Although the faithful and obedient Israel and Judah may be few or a remnant, the living LORD God promises that His people will prosper and grow beyond measure (Zechariah 10:8; see also Jeremiah 31:10-12; Ezekiel 36:10-11, 37-38; Revelation 7:9). Israel and Judah along with their children will remember the living LORD God and once again wholeheartedly return to Him and His land Palestine that He gave them (Zechariah 10:9; see also 1 Kings 8:47-48; Nehemiah 1:8-9). The living LORD God promises to return His scattered people back from faraway lands and resettle them in His land Palestine (Zechariah 10:10; see also Isaiah 11:11). In fact, the living LORD God declares that His people will be so numerous; there will scarcely be room for all of them (see Zechariah 10:10).

As the Head, the LORD will lead His people safely through the sea of distress and affliction against their enemies, for the waves will be held back, as He did at the Red Sea (Zechariah 10:11; see also Exodus 14:22; Deuteronomy 11:10; Joshua 2:10; Isaiah 11:15). The Nile will become dry and the rule of the foreign nations over God’s people will end (see Zechariah 10:11). The living LORD God Almighty promises He will strengthen His people by His Name so that they will walk wherever they wish (see Zechariah 10:6, 12). Wherever His people go, the living LORD God promises to care and shepherd His people (Zechariah 10:12; see also Psalm 68:7-9; Isaiah 41:8-10).

Some people who read Zechariah and other Old Testament prophecies believe these promises are only for Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. The proliferation of the Jewish people is one of the LORD God’s covenant promises to Abraham (e.g., Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12). HERE IS MORE GOOD NEWS! Through personal FAITH and OBEDIENCE in the Lord Jesus Christ, we Gentiles (non-Jews) also receive God’s abundant grace, spiritual blessings, new life, righteousness, forgiveness, and adoption into God’s people – Israel and Judah (e.g., see John 1:12-13; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38; Acts 26:22-23; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Romans 1:5-6, 16-17; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:9). In other words, EVERYONE that place their hope and obedient faith in God’s Son Jesus becomes one with God as the true Israel (Jew or Hebrew) and the true children of Abraham (e.g., see Isaiah 56:8; John 10:16; John 17:11; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:6-9, 26-29; Ephesians 1:22-23). Jesus Christ unites and joins all faithful believers in Him – Gentiles and Jews – to become God’s people (e.g., see Ephesians 2:15-16, 21; Ephesians 3:6). Believing Gentiles are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief Cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:19-22).  Through FAITH in Jesus Christ, BOTH Jews and Gentiles share all the glorious blessings of the living LORD God! The living LORD God and His Son Jesus is the Shepherd-King of ALL faithful believers of Jesus – Jews and Gentiles.

The living LORD God loves and accepts ALL PEOPLE from every nation who honors Him and does what is right (e.g., see Acts 10:35). We have peace and reconciliation with the living LORD God of heaven through faith in His Son Jesus, who is Lord of all people (e.g., see Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Romans 10:11-13; Ephesians 2:17-18).

The living LORD God gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for ALL OUR SINS – both Jews and Gentiles – to rescue and save us from Satan and Satan’s present oppression and eternal death so that we might die to sins and live for His goodness (righteousness) (e.g., see Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 20:28; John 1:29, 36; John 3:15-17; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:3-4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:6-8; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24). Now, we are ALL – both Jew and Gentile – made right and reconciled with the living LORD God through our personal faith and obedience to the LORD God’s dear Son Jesus (e.g., see Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16). Everyone who trusts in Jesus will be kept in perfect peace and safety (e.g., see Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 16:33; Romans 9:32-33; Romans 10:11; Philippians 4:7).

In summary, all the living LORD God’s works are true and His ways just, and He humbles those who walk in pride (e.g., see Daniel 4:37). However, the living LORD God through His Son Jesus blesses those who wholeheartedly loves Him and humbly obeys His good ways and moral commands (e.g., see Deuteronomy 7:9-15; Deuteronomy 11:13-16; Deuteronomy 28:1; Leviticus 26:3-5; 1 Kings 8:23, 36, 60-61; Nehemiah 9:15; Isaiah 66:2; Daniel 9:4). Sadly, our disobedience, sinfulness, and unfaithfulness to the living LORD God and His good commands bring drought, scarcity, war, defeat, and hungry (e.g., see Deuteronomy 11:13-17; 1 Kings 8:33-40; Isaiah 66:3-6).

Therefore, REPENT and FLEE discord, sexual immorality, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder and SEEK goodness, mercy, and love toward God and others (e.g., see Psalm 41:1-3; Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:6-7; Isaiah 58:6-7, 10; Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 12:20-21). Then, you will have a good life and peace (e.g., see Daniel 4:27; Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11-12). The living LORD God loves us and chose us in Christ to be holy, pure, blameless, and without fault in His eyes (e.g., see Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:7).  

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Douglas, J.D. and Tenney, Merrill. NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1989).

Monday, July 8, 2019

Jesus Is King!

9 Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you. He is righteous (just) and victorious (or have salvation), yet He is humble, riding on a donkey — riding on a donkey’s colt. 10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel (Ephraim or the ten northern tribes of Israel) and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your King will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. 11 Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. Zechariah 9:9-12, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

For many biblical scholars, Zechariah chapter 9 marks a radical shift or turn in Zechariah’s prophecy. Some scholars have noted that the original language and wording from Zechariah chapters 1 through 8 and chapters 9 through 14 are different. Because of these changes, some scholars argue another ancient author and not the prophet Zechariah wrote chapters 9 through 14. In fact, some scholars have noted chapters 9 through 14 contain no explicit reference to the prophet Zechariah but uses the living LORD God’s direct speech. Even more, Matthew 27:9 when quoting Zechariah 11:12-13 assigned the prophet Jeremiah as the author.

Possibly, Zechariah chapters 9 through 14 dates from a later period in Zechariah’s ministry. The prophet Zechariah ministered from approximately 520 to 480 BC (before Christ) to encourage post-exilic Jews returning from foreign Exile into God’s Promised Land (Palestine) to have hope and faith in the living LORD God. Despite these arguments, other biblical scholars have noted many similarities and the common themes throughout chapters 1 through 14 about the glorious future for Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, the Gentile world, and most importantly about the Messiah (Christ) (e.g., see Zechariah 1:16-17; Zechariah 2:4-5, 10-12; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 4:6-7; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 14:9). Zechariah calls for ALL PEOPLE to look forward to a glorious future with the coming Messiah-King, who is also Savior of the world!

The prophecy of Zechariah has explicit references about the Messiah-King at this first advent (arrival) and His second coming (eschaton) as King! The key to Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem’s glorious future is a coming Messiah-King to rule and lead not only Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem but THE WORLD – from sea to sea (see Zechariah 9:9-10). Zechariah’s prophecy is clear: the nations will worship at Jerusalem, and the LORD will be King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9, 16-17; see also Isaiah 2:2-4; Matthew 25:31-34; Revelation 11:15). Finally, ALL PEOPLE will honor and worship the King – the true and living LORD God (Yahweh, also known as Jehovah or I AM) and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah) (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 18:33, 36-37; Philippians 2:6, 10-11). Until then, the living LORD God’s eyes watch over all the world – the good and the bad (Zechariah 9:1; see also e.g., 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 33:13-15, 18; Psalm 34:15; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 16:17; 1 Peter 3:12). The living LORD God controls the world – Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) (see Zechariah 9:1).

Zechariah chapter 9 opens with the LORD God’s judgment against Israel and Judah’s enemies. Some scholars argue that Zechariah 9 is Zechariah’s predictive prophecy about Alexander the Great and his future military victories (see Zechariah 9:1-8). Amazingly, Zechariah’s prophecy sketches the march of Alexander the Great through Syria (Aram), Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon), and finally Philistia from 333 through 332 BC (see Zechariah 9:1-8). Some scholars have argued that Alexander the Great was an agent of the living LORD God to destroy Israel and Judah’s enemies. Zechariah 9 assures God’s people they need not fear their enemies because the living LORD God protects them and defeat their attackers (Zechariah 9:1-8; Zechariah 12:9; see also e.g., Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 115:9-11).

In approximately 500 BC, the living LORD God through His servant Zechariah declared His message or oracle; some translations say burdens (Zechariah 9:1; see also Zechariah 12:1; Malachi 1:1). Zechariah’s oracle – the word of the LORD – involved the coming destruction and doom against the foreign nations Syria (Aram or Hadrach), Damascus, Hamath, and the Phoenicians (Tyre and Sidon) (Zechariah 9:1-2; see also Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:1-2, 4, 11-12; Jeremiah 25:15-26; Jeremiah 49:23-27; Ezekiel 26:1-28:19; Amos 1:3-5, 9-10). All these territories are within Syria-Palestine.

Notably, Zechariah predicted that Tyre and Sidon would be destroyed (see Zechariah 9:2-4). Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel predicted Tyre’s destruction (see Ezekiel 26:14). Tyre and Sidon trusted in their smarts and skills, and not the living LORD God (see Zechariah 9:2). Further, Tyre relied on their great wealth of gold, silver, and military power (Zechariah 9:2-4; see also Ezekiel 26:3-5; Ezekiel 28:2-10, 18). Tyre was built on an island a half-mile from the shore, which seemed secure and strong – an island fortress (see Isaiah 23:4; Ezekiel 26:5). Also, Tyre was the major power of trade and commerce with abundant wealth (e.g., see Isaiah 23:2-3, 8, 18; Ezekiel 26:12; Ezekiel 27:3-27, 22; Ezekiel 28:4-5, 7, 12-14-16-18). As predicted Ezekiel’s prophecy in approximately 500 BC, Tyre was destroyed by Alexander Great in July 332 BC and has never been rebuilt (see Ezekiel 26:12-14). Indeed, material wealth cannot buy anyone deliverance away from the living LORD God’s judgment and wrath (e.g., see Proverbs 11:4; Zephaniah 1:18).

Even more, the prophet Zechariah predicted that the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron would see Aram, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon’s destructions and be filled with fear, desperation, and terror (see Zechariah 9:5). Even then, the prophet Zechariah predicted destruction by the living LORD God of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod (Zechariah 9:5-6; see also Amos 1:6-8; Ezekiel 25:15-17; Zephaniah 2:4-7).

Remarkedly, these foreign nations were prideful, greedy, and cruel (see Zechariah 9:3-4, 6-7). Even worse, these nations did not trust and worship the living LORD God and obey His good ways (Zechariah 9:7; see also Amos 1:3-2:5). Instead, these foreign nations were led away by false gods, idolatry, and pride (see Zechariah 9:7). In this prophecy, Zechariah sees the living LORD God as a Divine Warrior who brings His judgment against these wicked and prideful nations. The living LORD God will judge every nation by the standard of right and wrong! As the book of Proverbs teaches, pride always goes before destruction (e.g., see Psalm 18:27; Proverbs 16:5, 18; Proverbs 29:23).

After the LORD’s judgment, the prophet Zechariah predicted a remnant of these foreign Gentile nations will join His chosen people, Israel and Judah, and be united with His people (Zechariah 9:7; see also Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 14:1; Micah 4:2-4; Zechariah 8:8, 20-23; Ephesians 2:12-19). Then, Zechariah predicted these united and faithful people of God would be a family or Temple brought together in Judah (see Zechariah 9:7). Even more, the living LORD God promises to live amongst His faithful people and continually guard His faithful people against harm, enemy attack, and danger (Zechariah 9:8, 10; see also Zechariah 2:5, 10; Zechariah 10:3-5; Zechariah 12:4-5). As predicted by Zechariah, Alexander the Great amazingly spared Jerusalem and its Temple during his invasion and destructions of Tyre and the Philistine cities.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS! The prophet Zechariah predicted a coming King or Ruler that will be the Capstone (Zechariah 9:9; see also Isaiah 12:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2, 5; Zephaniah 3:14-15; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 10:4; Matthew 2:2). This coming King would be called the Righteous One and the Victor because He would be filled with goodness, mercy, grace, fairness, victory, and wisdom (Zechariah 9:9; see also Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 42:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:11-16). Indeed, the Messiah-King will be the ideal king obediently conforming to the divine standard of morality and ethics, particularly as revealed in the Mosaic covenant and Psalm 72 (e.g., see Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 2 Samuel 23:1-4; Psalm 72:1-11). However, the prophet Zechariah predicted the coming Messiah-King would be humble, kind, and patient (Zechariah 9:9; see also Isaiah 53:2-3, 7; Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-7).

Even more, the coming King would bring salvation and grace and unite ALL PEOPLE – Jews and Gentiles – as the Capstone (Cornerstone) (Zechariah 9:9; see also Psalm 118:22; Zechariah 4:7; John 11:52; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Peter 2:4-10). The Messiah-King will not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (e.g., see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Indeed, the Messiah-King will fulfill the Abrahamic covenant to bless ALL NATIONS through faith in Him (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:17-15; see also Galatians 3:8, 16). Importantly, Zechariah predicts the coming Messiah-King will proclaim peace to the nations (Zechariah 9:10; see also Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-10; Micah 5:10-11; Luke 2:14; John 16:33; Colossians 1:19-20). The Messiah-King’s sovereign rule will extend from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth (Zechariah 9:10; see also Psalm 72:8).

Amazingly, other Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Zephaniah also predicted a coming King or Ruler from King David’s family line (e.g., see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-10; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2-5; Zephaniah 3:14-15; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:15-18; Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:13-14, 27). The book of Zechariah along with the other Old Testament books – the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms – ALL POINT TO THE MESSIAH (Christ) (e.g., see Matthew 1:1, 16-17; Luke 24:25, 27, 44-45; John 1:45; John 5:39-40, 45-47).[1] Messiah is a transliteration of Hebrew word meaning, “Anointed One” when translated into Greek is Christos or English as Christ (e.g., see John 1:41-42; John 4:25-26, 29). The Holy Scriptures teaches that our father Abraham, the prophet Moses, and many other great prophets and righteous servants of the Old Testament saw in the distance the coming Messiah-King and rejoiced (e.g., see Luke 10:24; John 8:56; Hebrews 11:13, 26; 1 Peter 1:10-12).

When the New Testament opens, the Gospel writers declared that the long-awaited and predicted Messiah-King had finally arrived in the Personhood of Jesus (e.g., see Matthew 1:1, 16-17; Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:1, 14-15; Luke 1:30-35; John 1:1-5). The New Testament Gospel writers attributed Zechariah’s prophecy of a coming King-Messiah to the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15, quoting Zechariah 9:9). When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we traditionally call “Palm Sunday,” the Gospel writers linked Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as King to Zechariah’s prophecy (see Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19).

During His public ministry on earth, Jesus declared to the Jewish leaders that they searched the Scriptures believing the Scriptures will give them eternal life (see John 5:35, 39). However, Jesus declared that the Old Testament Scriptures point to Him, as He is the Prince and Author of life (John 1:4; John 3:15-16; John 5:39-40; John 6:27, 35, 47-48; see also Acts 3:15). Jesus professed to the Jewish religious leaders that Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms wrote about Him and testified about His glory (John 5:46-47; see also Genesis 3:15; Luke 16:29-31; John 12:41; Romans 15:8; Hebrews 11:26). The Old Testament stated that everyone who believed in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His Name (e.g., see Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 31:34; Zechariah 13:1; Luke 24:27; Acts 3:18-19; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38; Acts 26:22-23).

In particular, the Gospel of John declared that Jesus is God and King who existed with His Father – the living LORD God (Yahweh, the Great I AM) – from the beginning of all creation (John 1:1-3, 18, 29-30; John 14:9; John 18:5-6, 8, 33-37; see also e.g., Exodus 3:13-14; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15-20). Jesus is ONE with His Father, the living LORD God (e.g., see John 10:30, 38; John 14:9-11, 20; John 17:11, 21-23). Jesus existed BEFORE Abraham, Moses, and the prophets as He existed before the world began (John 1:2; John 8:58; John 17:5, 24; see also Colossians 1:17). Abraham, Moses, and the Old Testament prophets saw and predicted the Messiah’s coming (John 1:45; John 8:57-58; see also Luke 24:27, 44-45; Romans 15:7-9). Moreover, the New Testament declares that Jesus is Jewish (see John 4:9), the Great Prophet (see Matthew 21:11), the Christ (see Matthew 1:1, 16-17), a Rabbi or Teacher (see John 20:16), and our Savior (see Luke 2:10-12)!

The living LORD God sent His Son Jesus into the world for many reasons. Truly, Jesus is the “Siloam” (or the “Sent One”). First, the living LORD God sent His Son Jesus into the world to bring salvation and peace (e.g., see John 1:33; John 3:16; John 4:34; John 5:24; John 6:38-39; John 8:16, 18; John 14:27; John 16:33; Colossians 3:15). Everyone who BELIEVES and OBEYS God’s only begotten Son Jesus is SAVED (kept safe) from the Evil One and ADOPTED by the living LORD God of heaven and earth as His children through the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13; John 3:3-8, 15-18, 36; John 5:24; John 6:40, 47; John 10:7-10; John 11:25-26; see also Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31; Galatians 3:26-28). Jesus is our Passover Lamb and Savior, who takes away our sins through faith in Him (John 1:29, 36; see also Matthew 1:21; Romans 3:23-25; Revelation 5:6). Moreover, the living LORD God sent His Son Jesus into the world to reveal His Name (character and nature) and His unfailing love for the world so that we can be united with Him (John 1:14-18; John 3:16; John 17:6, 20-21, 26; see also Exodus 34:5-7). Finally, the living LORD God graciously sent His only begotten Son Jesus into the world that He might bring EVERYONE to repentance and save the world through His Son Jesus (John 1:29; John 3:16-17; John 12:47; see also e.g., Isaiah 53:11; Mark 2:17; Luke 19:10; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; 1 Timothy 1:15-17; 1 John 4:9).

Through faith in the Lord Jesus, EVERYONE can obtain access to the living LORD God of heaven and earth and His unending grace and acceptance (John 1:14-17; see also John 12:26; John 14:6; Hebrews 4:14-16). The Lord Jesus is the ONLY way to the living LORD God (John 10:7, 9; John 14:6; see also Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12). THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE STAIRWAY BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH (see John 1:51, New Living Translation, 2nd Edition).

Jesus is the Messiah and King (e.g., see Matthew 1:16-17; Matthew 16:16, 20; Luke 2:10-11). The Gospels testify that Jesus is the long-awaited Servant, the Chosen One of God, the Messiah (which means “Christ”), and King of the world (John 1:34, 41, 49; John 4:25-26; John 6:69; John 12:12-13; John 20:30-31; see also Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 1:16-17, 21; Matthew 2:2; Mark 1:24; Mark 8:29; Matthew 27:11, 42). John the Baptist repeatedly proclaimed to the crowds that the long-awaited King and Messiah predicted by Moses, the Old Testament prophets, and Psalms had finally arrived in Jesus (John 1:6-9, 15, 23, 29; John 3:26; John 11:27; see also e.g., Isaiah 40:3). The Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul spent their lives declaring the message from the Old Testament that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) and salvation is found in Him alone (Acts 2:36, 38-40; Acts 5:42; Acts 9:22; Acts 10:36; Acts 17:2-3; Acts 18:5, 28; Acts 26:21-23; Acts 24:14-16; 2 Timothy 3:15; see also Matthew 1:1, 16; Matthew 16:16; Luke 2:10-11). During Jesus’s public ministry, the people declared that Jesus is the King and Savior of the world of Israel (John 1:49; John 3:17; John 4:42; John 12:9; see also Matthew 1:21; Matthew 2:2; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:23; Romans 11:14; Titus 2:13-14; 1 John 4:10, 14).

During His public time on earth, Jesus performed many miraculous signs that testified and revealed His glory as the long-awaited Messiah-King, Prophet, and the Son of the living God (John 2:7-11, 23; John 3:2, 16-17; John 4:45-46; John 5:36; John 6:14-15; John 10:24-32, 37-38; John 11:47; John 12:17-19, 37; John 14:11; John 20:30-31; John 21:25; see also Matthew 11:4; Matthew 16:16). As predicted by the prophets, Jesus taught the people with heavenly authority, healed the sick, forgave sins, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, walked on water, and feed the hungry were just some of the miracles recorded in the Gospel messages (John 4:46-54; John 5:1-15, 20; John 6:2, 5-12, 19; John 7:14-15; John 8:11; John 11:1-45; John 12:9; e.g., see Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 51:14; Isaiah 61:1-2; Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 11:1-6; Mark 1:39; Luke 4:18-19; Luke 7:22; Mark 2:5; Luke 7:47-48; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38). Because Jesus was God, Jesus could discern the secret thoughts, motives, and hearts of all humans (John 1:48; John 2:24-25; John 6:61, 64; John 18:4; see also 2 Chronicles 6:30; Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 9:4; Acts 15:8). NO OTHER HUMAN DID THE MIRACULOUS SIGNS OF JESUS!

In Jesus was eternal Light and an indestructible Life (John 1:4-5; see also e.g., John 3:19; John 5:26; John 6:35, 51, 57-58; John 8:12; John 11:25; John 14:6; Acts 3:15; 1 John 1:1-2). The Resurrected Jesus gives everyone that comes to Him by faith His light and indestructible life-giving power – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, also called “living water,” is Jesus’ gift to all who come to Him by faith (John 4:10, 14; John 5:26; John 7:37-39; John 17:2; see also Isaiah 55:1). To receive Holy Spirit, Jesus called EVERYONE to REPENTANCE (turning) AWAY FROM SIN and TURNING TO HIS FATHER, the living LORD God of heaven and earth, and OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMANDS (John 5:8-9, 14-15; John 8:11; John 14:15-16, 21, 23-26; John 15:9-10, 12, 17; see also Matthew 4:17; Matthew 18:3; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 2:5; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 5:31-32). The Lord Jesus is the Judge of sins (John 5:22-24, 27, 30; John 17:2; see also Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31). Jesus gives forgiveness of sins and eternal life to EVERYONE who OBEYS His message and BELIEVE in His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth (e.g., see John 3:14-18, 36; John 5:24; John 8:51; John 11:26). Everyone who does what is right and good comes to Jesus, the Light of the world (see John 3:21; John 5:29).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd that UNITES people (Jews and Gentiles) to His Father, the living LORD God (John 10:11, 14, 16, 31; John 11:51-52; John 12:32; John 17:11, 20-23; see also Ephesians 2:11-22). The prophet Ezekiel predicted a Good Shepherd would come from God that cares for God’s people (e.g., see Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24). Jesus fulfills the prophet Ezekiel’s prophecy. Also, Jesus is the Capstone of God’s united people where the Holy Spirit indwells His people – the flock (John 10:16; see also 1 Peter 2:4-8). As a Good Shepherd, Jesus cares and protects God’s people who come to and obeys Him (see John 10:11, 15, 17). He willingly gave His life as the Passover Lamb to protect God’s people and to take away our sins and transgressions (John 1:29, 36; John 10:17-18; see also Isaiah 53:7-8, 12; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 5:6, 8-10). Jesus is our peace (John 14:27; John 16:33; see also Ephesians 2:14).

Returning to Zechariah 9, the prophet predicted the Messiah-King would come and bring peace from sea to sea (see Zechariah 9:9-10). Some biblical scholars attribute Zechariah 9:9 to Jesus’ first advent (arrival) to earth and Zechariah 9:10 to Jesus’ second coming at the end of the age. Having introduced the Messiah-King in Zechariah 9:9, some biblical scholars believe verses 10 through 17 of Zechariah 9 look forward to the end-time and the future Kingdom. The fulfillment of verse 10 has not yet come. In fact, after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, warfare, and conflict continued amongst the nations.

Like many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, some scholars believe verses 9-10 combine more than one appearance of the Messiah. That is, Zechariah chapter 9 did not distinguish between Jesus’ first coming into the world and His second coming when He will establish His Kingdom on earth (see also Zechariah 14:9). The entire age of the church fits between Zechariah 9:9 and 9:10, just as it does between Isaiah 9:6 and 7, and after the comma in Isaiah 61:2. Thus, some scholars argue that Zechariah 9:10 describe what will happen when Jesus returns at His second coming to earth to defeat His enemies, establish universal peace amongst ALL PEOPLE, and finalize His Kingdom.[2] At His first advent, Jesus rode a humble donkey; but at His second advent, He will ride a white horse and lead the armies of heaven (see Revelation 19:11-16).

Furthermore, the prophet Zechariah foretells the King’s deliverance and redemption because of His blood covenant (see Zechariah 9:11). Notably, the covenant at Mount Sinai was sealed by the blood (Exodus 24:3-8; see also Hebrews 9:18-22). King Jesus’ sacrificial blood shed on Calvary’s Cross purchased our freedom from hopelessness and eternal death caused by our sinfulness (Zechariah 9:11; see also Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 61:1-2; Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Ephesians 4:8; Hebrews 9:16; Hebrews 13:20-21). Through faith in Him, Jesus rescues us from the prison of sinfulness that lead-s to death and brings new life (e.g., see Romans 8:1-2). Therefore, the living LORD God calls ALL PEOPLE to COME BACK to Him to find hope, restoration, and freedom (Zechariah 9:12; see also 2 Corinthians 5:20). The living LORD God promises renewal with repayment of two blessings (a double portion or bonus) for our losses (Zechariah 9:12; see also Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 61:3, 7). Those who honor, trust, and seek the LORD lack no good thing (e.g., see Psalm 23:1; Psalm 34:9-10; Psalm 84:11; Philippians 4:19-20).

Next in verse 13, some scholars believe this section refers to the Jews victory over the Greeks (also known as the sons of Javan) during Maccabean revolt in 2nd century BC (166 – 160 BC). In fact, some biblical scholars argue verses 10 through 17 were fulfilled by the Jews during the Maccabean revolt against Greece (particularly of Antiochus Epiphanes). In this section, the living LORD God declared that Judah is His weapon and bow and Israel (Ephraim) is His arrow to the string to defeat Greece (Zechariah 9:13; see also Daniel 10:20). Essentially, Israel and Judah are the living LORD God’s weapons (see Zechariah 9:13).

However, verses 14 through 17 of Zechariah 9 could also refer to the final battle at the end of the age with the coming of the LORD in the clouds (see also Isaiah 66:15-16; Matthew 24:30-31). In verse 14, Zechariah declared the LORD will appear above His people, and His arrows will fly like lightning (see Zechariah 9:14). Then, the Sovereign LORD will sound the ram’s horn and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert (see Zechariah 9:14). As Divine Warrior, the living LORD God will protect and strengthen His people and defeat their enemies once and for all (Zechariah 9:15; see also Isaiah 31:5; Zechariah 10:4-7; Zechariah 12:6-8; Zechariah 14:3, 10). Next, the prophet Zechariah forecasts the living LORD God will rescue and save His people, just as a shepherd protects His sheep (Zechariah 9:16; see also Psalm 100:3). His victorious people will sparkle and shine in His land like beautiful jewels in a crown (see Zechariah 9:16-17). God’s people will thrive and flourish with abundance, beauty, and plenty (Zechariah 9:17; see also Isaiah 62-3-4).

How great and good is the LORD! The living LORD God has revealed these great miraculous wonders so that EVERYONE will know that the LORD is God; besides Him, there is no other (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 8:6). The LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him can ALWAYS be trusted (Zechariah 12:1; see also Genesis 1:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 42:5). TRUST AND HOPE IN THE LORD!

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Message Bible (Colorado Springs, CO:  NavPress, 2002).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Boice, James Montgomery. The Minor Prophets: Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006).

[1] E.g., see Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Numbers 21:9; Numbers 24:17; Deuteronomy 18:15; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 40:10-11; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Isaiah 61:1-3; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 9:24-27; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 9:25; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:7; Malachi 3:1; Psalm 2:6-9; Psalm 2:6-9; Psalm 16:10; Psalm 22:1-8; Psalm 34:20; Psalm 41:9; Psalm 69:1-9, 20-21, 26; Psalm 72:1-17; Psalm 110:1-7; Psalm 118:22-26.
[2] The second advent or second coming of Christ is the coming of God to earth. The Holy Scriptures repeatedly foretells many times – plainly without misinterpretation of Christ’s second coming at such passages at Deuteronomy 30:2-3; Zechariah 14:3-4; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:3-14, 27; 36-39; Matthew 25:31-32; Matthew 26:64; Luke 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 2:28; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 22:7, 20.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

More Grace!

8 Then this message (word) came to Zechariah from the LORD (Yahweh, Jehovah): 9 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. 11 Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.” Zechariah 7:8-12, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

In Zechariah chapters 7 and 8, the prophet now encourages God’s people to act with mercy, compassion, and fairness towards others based on what they have learned from the first six chapters of his prophecy. Similarly, many epistles (letters) of the New Testament close with the apostle’s encouragement for good deeds and actions, also known as the hortatory section (e.g., see Galatians 5:16-6:10; Ephesians 4:1-5:21; Colossians 3:1-17; 2 Timothy 4:4-8; Titus 3:1-11; Hebrews 13:1-25). Hortatory means “to encourage the reader to do something or act in a certain way.” Zechariah chapters 7 and 8 are the prophecy’s hortatory section.   

Zechariah chapters 7 and 8 open once again with the prophet receiving a divine message or word from the true and living LORD God of all the earth – Yahweh (also known as Jehovah) (Zechariah 7:1; Zechariah 8:1; see also Ezra 5:1). Throughout his prophecy, Zechariah received divine messages from the true and living LORD God about Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, and most importantly about the Messiah (Christ) (e.g., see Zechariah 1:1; Zechariah 2:3-5, 10-12; Zechariah 4:6-8; Zechariah 5:1; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 9:9).

On December 7 in the fourth year of King Darius’s reign,[1] the word of the LORD came to Zechariah (see Zechariah 7:1). Literally, Zechariah received another message from the LORD on the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of King Darius’ reign or December 7, 518 BC. Zechariah’s message in chapter 7 came nearly two years after Zechariah’s previous eight-night visions from the LORD (see Zechariah 1:1, 7). Throughout Zechariah’s prophecy, the prophet had a series of night visions, and the living LORD God sent His messenger or interpreting angel to Zechariah to explain the meaning of these divine night visions (e.g., see Zechariah 1:7-9, 13-14, 19, 21; Zechariah 2:2-3; Zechariah 3:1; Zechariah 5:5, 10; Zechariah 6:4-6).

In the fourth year of Darius’s reign, the people of Bethel sent a delegation to Jerusalem to worship, seek the LORD’s favor (grace), and to ask the religious leaders about their national fasts and mourning (see Zechariah 7:2-3). Sarezer and Regem-Melech headed the delegation from Bethel (see Zechariah 7:2). Essentially, the delegation from Bethel came to Jerusalem to seek the living LORD God’s blessings and seek His favor (grace) (Zechariah 7:2; Zechariah 8:21-22; see also 1 Samuel 13:12; 1 Kings 13:6; Jeremiah 26:19; Malachi 1:9).

While in Jerusalem, the delegation from Bethel asked the religious leaders this question: “Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s fall, as we have been doing all these years?” (see Zechariah 7:3, The Message). The Jewish people had fasted and mourned the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple) by the Babylonian army for 70 years during their Exile from the living LORD God’s promised land (Zechariah 1:12; Zechariah 8:19; see also 2 Kings 25:9-10, 25; Jeremiah 52:4, 12-14). For the previous 70 years, these fasts mourned and remembered the burning of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army (see 2 Kings 25:1, 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36:17-19; Jeremiah 39:1-2; Jeremiah 52:12-13; Daniel 9:2). The question the delegation from Bethel was: Since Jerusalem and the Temple (Second Temple) was being rebuilt was it now necessary to keep their fasts the fourth month, the fifth, the seventh and the fast of the tenth (see Zechariah 7:3, 5; Zechariah 8:19).[2] The Holy Scriptures are silent and does not require these fasts on the fourth month, the fifth, the seventh and the fast of the tenth month. These fasts were man-made by the religious leaders to remember the destructions of Jerusalem and the Temple.

By way of background, the living LORD God allowed His people Israel and Judah to go into foreign Exile away from His Promised Land because of their repeated unfaithfulness and rebellion against Him and His covenant, which is the Ten Commandments (e.g., see Exodus 34:1, 28; Deuteronomy 4:13 and Deuteronomy 10:4; Jeremiah 14:11-12). Before the Exile, the leadership and the people of Israel and Judah became rebellious and unfaithful to the living LORD God and His covenant (Zechariah 1:4; see also e.g., 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Kings 21:10-16; Psalm 78:8; Jeremiah 2:5). Israel and Judah followed all the evil pagan practices of the surrounding nations, relied on foreign powers and not the LORD, worshipped idols such as Baal, and sinfulness became deeply ingrained in their hearts and minds (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:10-12; 1 Chronicles 5:25; 2 Chronicles 36:14; Isaiah 7:1-9; Hosea 10:1-8).

The living LORD God Almighty repeatedly sent His servants (prophets) to warn Israel and Judah to REPENT of their wicked sins, TURN from their evil ways, and OBEY Him and His covenant because He loved His people (Zechariah 1:4-6; Zechariah 7:7, 12; see also e.g., Exodus 20:1-23:9; 2 Kings 17:13; 2 Chronicles 24:19; 2 Chronicles 36:15; Isaiah 1:15-20, 23-24; Isaiah 45:22; Jeremiah 7:13, 24-25; Jeremiah 11:7-8; Jeremiah 25:4-6; Jeremiah 35:15-16; Ezekiel 33:10-11). Through His prophets, the living LORD God commanded Israel and Judah to do right and good by seeking mercy and justice for orphans (fatherless), the poor, foreigners (refugees), and the widows (e.g., see Exodus 22:21-23; Leviticus 25:17; Isaiah 1:17, 23; Isaiah 56:1; Jeremiah 5:1, 28; Jeremiah 22:3-5; Ezekiel 33:14-16; Amos 5:24; Micah 6:6-8). Even more, the living LORD God commanded the people to turn from adultery, sexual sins, idolatry, murder, greed, falsehood, dishonesty, thief, and bribes (e.g., see Isaiah 1:21-23; Galatians 5:17-21). Despite the holy prophet’s repeated messages to REPENT and TURN from their evildoing and evil ways, Israel and Judah despised and refused to listen to the living LORD God’s prophets and ignored His requirements for righteousness (Zechariah 1:4; Zechariah 7:11-12; see also e.g., 2 Kings 17:13-15; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 36:16). Instead of listening to the living LORD God’s holy prophets, the people turned to idolatry and lying priests and prophets that polluted God’s land and led the people away from the living LORD God and His covenant (e.g., see Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 2 Chronicles 36:14; Jeremiah 14:14-15; Jeremiah 23:13, 16-17, 30-31; Lamentations 4:13).

So, the living LORD God became angry at Israel and Judah and decided to punish His wicked people (Zechariah 1:2, 12, 15; see also e.g., see 2 Chronicles 36:16; Isaiah 1:24-24). First, the living and sovereign LORD God Almighty raised up the Assyrians against the ten northern tribes of Israel (see 2 Kings 17:1-6). In 722 BC, the Assyrian army destroyed the ten northern tribes of Israel and scattered Israel from the living LORD God’s land (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:18-20; 2 Kings 18:11-12; Daniel 9:6, 10).

After Judah and Jerusalem saw what happened to Israel’s ten northern tribes, the people temporarily repented and turned to the living LORD God Almighty under the good kingships of King Hezekiah and his son Josiah (e.g., see 2 Kings 18:3-8; 2 Kings 22:1-2). Hezekiah and Josiah cleared Judah and Jerusalem of mediums, spiritists, household gods, idols, and other forbidden worship objects in Judah and turned the people’s hearts to worshipping and serving the true and living LORD God Almighty (e.g., see 2 Kings 23:21-25). However, after King Hezekiah and King Josiah’s deaths, the people of Judah and Jerusalem turned back to their wickedness, rebellion, and evildoing against the living LORD God Almighty and His covenant. Judah and Jerusalem worshipped other gods, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists (e.g., see 2 Kings 21:1-9).

Because of such evil and wickedness, the living and sovereign LORD God Almighty raised up the Babylonians against Judah and Jerusalem to punish His wicked and rebellious people (e.g., 2 Kings 21:10-16; 2 Kings 23:26-28; 2 Kings 25:1-25; 2 Chronicles 36:17). The living LORD God permitted the Babylonians to invade Jerusalem and Judah beginning in 605 BC and again in 597 BC (e.g., see 2 Kings 24:1-2, 10-12; Ezekiel 1:1-2; Daniel 1:1-2). Finally, in 586 BC, the living LORD God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem, break down the walls of the city, and set fire to Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple (see 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21). Then, the living LORD God scattered His people as with a whirlwind among the far-off foreign nations and away from His Promised Land (Zechariah 7:14; see also Zechariah 1:18-20; Zechariah 2:6). The Jewish people now became refugees (aliens) and became the vulnerable class they had previously oppressed. The land of Israel, Jerusalem, and Judah became a bare and isolated wasteland, and no one traveled through the land (Zechariah 7:14; see also Ezekiel 12:19-20; Zephaniah 3:6). The living LORD God is patient, merciful, loving, and gracious, but He will NOT continually allow our sinful behavior to continue (e.g., see Exodus 34:5-7; Nahum 1:2-3).

For seventy years, God’s people had no Temple and the Promised Land was resting (Zechariah 1:12; see also e.g., 2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 25:8-14; Jeremiah 44:2-6; Daniel 9:2). In the book of Zechariah, the prophet reminded the people they experienced the living LORD God’s wrath during the Exile because of their disobedience to the living LORD God and His covenant (Zechariah 1:5-6; see also Leviticus 26:32-33; Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:64-67). However, the prophet Jeremiah previously predicted the restoration of Israel and Judah after the seventy-year Exile (e.g., see Jeremiah 29:10-14). During the seventy years of Exile, God’s people realized their rebellion, repented, and confessed their sins and evil against the living LORD God and His covenant (Zechariah 1:6; see also e.g., Lamentations 2:17; Daniel 9:4-24). The living LORD God heard His people’s genuine and wholehearted prayers of repentance and forgave their sins (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 32:5-7; Psalm 51:1-4; Proverbs 28:13). Psalm 126 records the joy and laughter of God’s restored people after the Exile.

Because of His love for His people, the living and sovereign LORD God raised up the Persia kings Cyrus and later Darius (Hystaspes) to restore His people Israel and Judah to His land, Palestine and rebuild the Temple (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1, 13; Ezra 1:1-4, Ezra 6:3-5). The Old Testament book of Ezra tells of God’s people under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua returning to Palestine to rebuild Jerusalem and His Temple in approximately 538 BC through King Cyrus pronouncement (Zechariah 4:8-9; see also Ezra 2:68-3:13). However, the returning Jews stopped the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple because of discouragement, enemy opposition, and even government opposition (e.g., see Ezra 4:1-5, 23-24). Then in approximately 520 BC during Darius of Persia’s reign, the living and sovereign LORD God raised up His servants, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage God’s people to finish the work of rebuilding Jerusalem and God’s Temple (see Ezra 5:1-2; Ezra 6:14; Haggai 1:2, 7-8, 15; Zechariah 1:1, 7; Zechariah 7:1; Zechariah 8:9-11).

While in foreign Exile, the Jewish people had fasted and mourned on certain days in memory of the Jerusalem siege and overthrow by the Babylonians. Now, the delegation from Bethel questioned the Jerusalem religious leaders if they should continue their fasts mourning the destructions of Jerusalem and the Temple (e.g., see Zechariah 7:2-3).

The living LORD God spoke through His servant Zechariah with a message to the people of Bethel to discover their true motives for their fasting, mourning, and other religious rituals (Zechariah 7:4; see also Isaiah 1:11-12). The living LORD God asked the people and priests whether their fasts and mourning every fifth and seventh month for the last 70 years were truly about leaving their sins behind and WHOLEHEARTEDLY coming back to Him (Zechariah 7:3, 5; see also Isaiah 58:1-7). Essentially, the living LORD God asked the Jewish delegation if their ceremonies and rituals were about Him and the good of others or only about their selfish and hypocritical food, fellowship, and fun (Zechariah 7:6; see also 1 Corinthians 10:24, 31-33). Our fasting and mercy towards others go hand and hand (e.g., see Isaiah 58:6-7)!

Then, the living LORD God announced to Zechariah that long ago, when Jerusalem was prosperous, thriving, and her southern areas of Negev and Shephelah along the plain were filled with people, His previous holy prophets warned the people that their half-hearted and insecure worship to Him would surely lead to their ruin and destruction, which occurred in 722 BC by the Assyrians and 586 BC by the Babylonians (Zechariah 7:7, 12; see also Jeremiah 7:13, 24-25). The living LORD God informed Zechariah the same message given by His previous holy prophets for all people:

Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another. Zechariah 7:8-10, HCSB.

Amazingly, the living LORD God’s message of mercy, fairness, goodness, truth, and forgiveness towards one another and caring for the widows, orphans, foreigners, weak, and the poor were given by Moses, the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament apostles, and most importantly by the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior (e.g., see Exodus 22:21-22; Leviticus 19:33; Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 22:22-23; Isaiah 1:11-17, 23; Hosea 6:6; Hosea 10:12; Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 5:4; Zechariah 8:16-17, 19; Matthew 5:3-10, 16-17, 44; Matthew 22:39; Matthew 23:23; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:12-15; James 1:27; 1 John 3:16-18). The message the living LORD God gave to Zechariah is His same message from generation to generation! The living LORD God informed Zechariah then and say now:

Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Do not take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Do not plot and scheme against one another — that is evil. Zechariah 7:9-10 (MSG)

The Holy Scriptures repeatedly highlights the importance of showing mercy and caring for others in need, mainly those who are poor, weak, sick, the refugees (aliens), the fatherless, and the widows (Zechariah 7:10; see also e.g., Deuteronomy 15:7-11). Such openhanded and openhearted life leads to the living LORD God’s mercy and grace towards us when we are in need (e.g., see Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 5:7; Luke 12:33). The living LORD God expects those who are blessed with material prosperity to share and care for the economically vulnerable (e.g., see Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Deuteronomy 26:8-12).

Thus, the living LORD God through His prophet Zechariah declared to the delegation from Bethel that their acts of justice and mercy were more important than their fasting and other religious ceremonies (see Zechariah 7:9-10; Zechariah 8:16-17, 19). In other words, the living LORD God wanted from His people genuine fairness, mercy, and compassion towards others – that is a loving relationship with people! Our fasts, ceremonies, and rituals do not constitute true worship if they come from selfish and false motives!

Worship rituals and fasts must focus wholeheartedly on the LORD God, repentance and confession of sins, and the needs of others. True worship to the living LORD God requires justice, mercy, and compassion toward others. The way we treat others shows how obedient we are to the LORD God (e.g., see Matthew 22:34-40; John 13:34-35; John 15:10, 17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 1 John 2:5). Like the other Old Testament prophets before him, Zechariah emphasized that fasting, rituals, and religious ceremonies are WORTHLESS without our obedience to the living LORD God and DOING mercy and kindness towards others (Zechariah 7:8-10; see also Jeremiah 7:5-7, 23; Jeremiah 21:12)! Similarly, the living LORD God announced through Jeremiah:

Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3, New International Version

Notably, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah warned God’s people that their half-hearted fasting and continued wickedness WILL NOT lead to God’s favor (grace), answered prayers, and healing because such behavior dishonors the living LORD God (Isaiah 58:1-14; see also Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 66:1-4). In Isaiah chapter 58, the prophet noted that the people’s fasted only to please themselves and not to honor Him and to care for hurting people (see Isaiah 58:3). The living LORD God noted that the people’s fasting and religious rituals ended with their continued mistreatment of others, quarreling and strife, and striking each other with wicked fists (see Isaiah 58:4).

Through His prophet Isaiah, the living LORD God warned His people that He does not want only a single day for people to honor and humble themselves before Him (see Isaiah 58:5). The living LORD God announced that the kind of fasting and repentance He has chosen:

Free the people you have put in prison unfairly and undo their chains. Free those to whom you are unfair and stop their hard labor. Share your food with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes. When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Isaiah 58:6-7 (NCV)

The living LORD God promised that when we care, show mercy, and kindness towards others that our light will shine like the dawn, our wounds will quickly heal, and our needs will be met by Him (Isaiah 58:8, 11-12; see also Matthew 5:14). Most importantly, the living LORD God promises to walk before us, answer our prayers, and His glory will protect us (see Isaiah 58:8-9). However, the living LORD God declared that His continued grace (favor) would not come into our lives unless we STOP making trouble for others, using cruel and malicious words, and pointing your finger at others (Isaiah 58:9; see also John 8:11). Instead, the living LORD God declared to EVERYONE to feed those who are hungry, break the chains of injustice, care for your relatives, and help those who are poor and troubled, then our light will shine in the darkness, and we will be bright like sunshine at noon and you will be blessed from heaven (Isaiah 58:6-10; see also Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 2:10). Even more, as we seek the living LORD God’s ways of goodness and loving others, He promised to guide our lives, satisfy our needs, and bless us with His power, restoration, and strength (see Isaiah 58:11-14). Amazingly, the Lord Jesus Christ had the same message of the prophet Isaiah: love and honor the LORD God and love and care for one another (e.g., see Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37; John 13:34-35; John 15:17).

Truly, the living LORD God desires our whole hearts devoted and faithful to Him and His good ways and not in disobedience, corruption, and rebellion (e.g., see Isaiah 1:2-4). Continually, the living LORD God has taught the people through His holy prophets and His Son Jesus has confirmed His Father’s teachings that He is NOT impressed by our man-made human religious rituals, ceremonies, and fasts when we continue to walk and live in rebellion toward Him and hatefulness, anger and mean-spiritedness towards others (e.g., see 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalm 40:6-8; Psalm 51:16-19; Proverbs 15:8; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-25; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23; Mark 12:33). Goodness, kindness, and forgiveness towards others are more acceptable to the living LORD God than our fasts, religious ceremonies, and sacrifices (e.g., see Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:16-20).  

Here is the GOOD NEWS! The living LORD God of heaven (Father) sent His Son Jesus as an example for ALL PEOPLE to follow. We are to FOLLOW Jesus’ teaching and example of showing love, mercy, goodness, compassion, and forgiveness for ALL PEOPLE, whether countrymen, friend, enemy, or foreigner (e.g., see Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Matthew 23:23; Luke 10:25-37; John 13:34-35; John 15:17). While on earth, Jesus humbly did acts of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and goodness for ALL PEOPLE – rich, poor, young, old, man, woman, Jew, or Gentile (foreigners or non-Jews) as the Light of the World for His Father’s glory (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 9:1-7, 18-22, 24-25, 27-29, 32-33, 35-36; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:32; Acts 10:38). Importantly, the New Testament apostles commanded the Church to follow and imitate Jesus Christ’s example of holy living for the LORD God’s glory and to obtain His grace (favor) (e.g., see John 13:14-17; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Philippians 2:5; 1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21-22).

Sadly, the previous generation would not listen to the living LORD God’s message through His holy prophets to REPENT and TURN from their evildoing and evil ways (Zechariah 7:11; see also Zechariah 1:2-6). Instead, the previous generation turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing the living LORD God’s truthful message (Zechariah 7:11; see also Isaiah 6:10; Ezekiel 2:3-8). Moreover, the previous generation hardened their hearts like flint, afraid to hear the true words revealed to them by His Holy Spirit through the earlier holy prophets (Zechariah 7:12; see also Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 7:25-26; Jeremiah 11:10). The Holy Spirit inspired the message of the LORD’s true prophets (e.g., see Nehemiah 9:30-31; 2 Peter 1:21). Because of the people’s continued disobedience and harden hearts, the living LORD God became angry and brought His severe wrath to the previous generation that went into Exile (Zechariah 7:11-12; see also 2 Chronicles 36:15-21; Daniel 9:11-14). The living LORD God repeatedly called the people to OBEY Him and TURN from their wicked and evil ways, but they refused to listen to Him (see Zechariah 7:13).

Thus, when the people prayed and cried out to Him, the living LORD God turned away and would NOT listen to their prayers nor accept their offerings (see Zechariah 7:13). The living LORD God refused to listen to His people’s prayers and petitions because of their continual rebellion, hardened hearts, and wickedness (Zechariah 7:13; see also Proverbs 1:24-32; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 11:10-11, 14; Jeremiah 14:12).

Zechariah pointed out that the key to obtaining the living LORD God’s grace (favor) is REPENTANCE from evildoing, OBEDIENCE to Him and His moral covenant (which is the Ten Commandments), and goodness towards others (Zechariah 1:4; Zechariah 7:8-10; Zechariah 8:16-17, 19; see also Proverbs 1:33; Jeremiah 7:1-11). Legalistic rituals, ceremonies, and fasting would NEVER serve as a substitute for loving the LORD God and loving for one another in everyday living (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-37).

Even more, the Holy Scriptures repeatedly teaches that the living LORD God does not hear sinners who keep evil in their hearts; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, the LORD God hears our prayers and accepts our offerings (e.g., see Psalm 34:15-16; Psalm 66:18; Psalm 145:19; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:11-15; Isaiah 59:1-3; Isaiah 66:1-4; John 9:31; John 15:7; James 4:3; James 5:16-18). The living LORD God withholds His grace and blessings from those who continue in deliberate sin and rebellion against Him and His righteous ways and covenant (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 24:20; Micah 3:4). However, the living LORD God Almighty pours out His grace upon grace upon those who wholeheartedly seek Him and do His goodness (e.g., see Jeremiah 29:10-1; 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Matthew 6:33).

Here is more Good News! Jesus the Messiah (Christ) is the true Vine that connects EVERYONE to the living LORD God of heaven through faith in Him (e.g., see John 15:1, 5). As we continually remain faithful and connected to Jesus the Messiah, we produce fruit of righteousness – good fruit – that comes through Him for the glory and praise of His Father, the living LORD God (e.g., see John 15:4-5, 16; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 1:6, 10). This good fruit includes love, mercy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (e.g., see John 15:4; Galatians 5:22-23). Even more, our FAITHFULNESS, UNITY, and OBEDIENCE to Jesus gives us access to the living LORD God’s abundant and unending grace (John 15:7; see also e.g., John 14:6; Romans 5:17, 21; Ephesians 2:6-7; Hebrews 4:14-16; 2 Peter 1:3). Furthermore, by our faithful connection to His Son Jesus, the true and living LORD God gives us everything we need by His Holy Spirit (divine power) to live godly and good lives and escape corruption (e.g., see 2 Peter 1:3-4).

However, our separation and unfaithfulness to Jesus the Messiah disconnects our access to Jesus’ Father, the living LORD God of heaven and His grace (e.g., see John 15:5-6). As we produce good loving fruit and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and His teaching, our prayers are answered for His Father’s glory and honor as we pray in Jesus’ Name (John 15:4, 7-8, 10, 12, 16-17; see also Matthew 5:16; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; John 14:12-14; John 16:23-24). Sometimes, Jesus taught that our prayers may be delayed not because of our sinfulness but this delay is for God’s glory (e.g., see John 9:1-3; John 11:4-7). Thus, we can ALWAYS relax and have joy because our faithfulness and obedience to Jesus ALWAYS lead to His Father’s grace (e.g., see John 16:33)!

Then in chapter 8, the holy prophet Zechariah receives another message for the living LORD God of heaven, who is all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient) (see Zechariah 8:1). The living LORD God Almighty expressed His strong, jealous, and passionate love for repentant Jerusalem, also called Zion (Zechariah 8:2; see also Zechariah 1:14). Therefore, the living LORD God proclaimed to Zechariah that He was once again returning to His land Jerusalem, and He Himself promised to live within Jerusalem with His mercy and restoration (Zechariah 8:3; see also Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 2:10-11; Zechariah 9:9). Then, repentant Jerusalem will be called the “City of Truth” and the “Holy Mountain” and the “Mountain of the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 8:3; see also Psalm 15:2; Isaiah 1:26-31).  

Next, the living LORD God promised that repentant Jerusalem will have peace and prosperity (see Zechariah 8:4-8). Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares with joy and laughter (Zechariah 8:4; see also Psalm 128:6-8; Isaiah 65:20). Obedience to the living LORD God brings long life; however, the years of the wicked are cut short (e.g., see Proverbs 3:1-2; Proverbs 10:27; Proverbs 19:23). Moreover, the living LORD God promised Jerusalem’s streets will be filled with boys and girls playing and laughing as normal everyday activities (Zechariah 8:5; see also Jeremiah 30:19-20; Jeremiah 31:12-13).

To the Jewish refugees returning from Exile, the promise of streets safe for senior citizens and playful children seemed impossible! The remnant that returned after the Exile to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple struggled to survive and faced from hostile neighbors. To many, Zechariah’s future promise of the LORD’s presence, prosperity, and peace seemed impossible (see Zechariah 8:6). The prophet Zechariah assured this small and struggling Jewish remnant that Jerusalem would once again become strong, stable, and secure (see Zechariah 8:6). Nothing is too hard for LORD because with the living and true LORD God all things are possible (Zechariah 8:6; see also e.g., Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27; Romans 4:21).

The living LORD God promised that He will save, bless, and restore His repentant people scattered from east and west and bring them home again to live safely in His Promised Land (Zechariah 8:7-8; see also Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 43:5; Ezekiel 37:12, 21; Zechariah 10:6, 9-10). These faithful and repentant Jews will be His people, and He will be their good and faithful God (Zechariah 8:8; see also Jeremiah 4:1-2; Zechariah 13:9). For the promises from the living LORD God will never fail (e.g., see Luke 1:37).

Some biblical scholars see the fulfillment of Zechariah 8 in the future with the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom (see Zechariah 8:1-8). However, some scholars argue the fulfillment of Zechariah 8 occurred when the Jews returned from foreign Exile (e.g., see Psalm 126:1-3). Nevertheless, other Old Testament prophets speak of a future restoration of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem (e.g., see Jeremiah 30:1-3, 8-11, 17-22; Jeremiah 31:1-6; Isaiah 65:17-25). The Apostle John predicted the kingdom of the world will become the Kingdom of our LORD and of His Christ (Messiah) (see Revelation 11:15; Revelation 21:1-5). In the future, the LORD will reign as King over the whole earth (e.g., see Zechariah 14:9).

Here is the Good News: The Lord Jesus Christ came and brought the Kingdom to earth on His first arrival, and when He comes again at His second coming His Kingdom on earth will be complete (e.g., see Matthew 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1; Luke 13:28-29). The parables and miracles of Jesus give insight into BOTH the present and future nature of the Kingdom of God. The life and ministry of Jesus is the proclamation that the Kingdom of God had come now in Him to bring His Father’s salvation and reconciliation for ALL people, races, sexes, religions, creeds, and nationalities through faith in Him (e.g., see Matthew 8:11; Matthew 21:31-32; Mark 16:16; Luke 13:28; John 1:12-13; John 3:3-8, 16-21, 36; Acts 16:31; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). The living LORD God sent His Son Jesus to bring together and unite His faithful people scattered around the world (e.g., see John 10:16; John 11:51-52; John 17:20-21; Ephesians 2:11-19). Furthermore, Jesus promised that the Kingdom of God will also appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age (e.g., see Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:3-37; Luke 21:5-36).

Then, the living and true LORD God encouraged His people once again through Zechariah as well as the prophet Haggai to be strong and finish rebuilding His Temple (Zechariah 8:9, 13; see also Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 1:8-9, 13-15; Haggai 2:4-5). Before the work began, the living LORD God declared, there were no jobs, no wages, no joy, and no security in Jerusalem for crime was rampant, because the people neglected rebuilding His Temple (Zechariah 8:10; see also Haggai 1:2-10). However now, the living LORD God declared that He was renewing peace and prosperity amongst His people because of their repentance and faithfulness to Him and His Temple (Zechariah 8:11; see also Genesis 12:2-3; Haggai 2:19). The living LORD God promised His blessings, life, prosperity, and happiness for His people and their land as they focused on Him and His Temple FIRST (Zechariah 8:12-14; see also Amos 5:4, 6; Haggai 2:5; Matthew 6:33).

As mentioned earlier, the previous generation angered the living LORD God because of their repeated sins, disobedience, and rebellion against Him and His covenant (Zechariah 8:14; e.g., see Nehemiah 9:34-35). Thus, the living LORD God decided to judge His people according to their evil conduct and bring His wrath and scattering against that previous generation (Zechariah 7:14; Zechariah 8:14; see also Jeremiah 35:15-17; Ezekiel 24:13-14; Ezekiel 36:16-19). However, the returning Jewish exiles confessed and repented of their sins and wrongdoing; therefore, the living LORD God Almighty promised this repented generation His goodness, grace, and forgiveness (Zechariah 8:15; see also Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 32:40-42; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Micah 7:18-20; 1 John 1:9). The Holy Scriptures are clear: if you do wrong, you will be paid back for all your wrongdoing because the living LORD God has NO FAVORITES (e.g., see Colossians 3:25). For the living and true LORD God rewards and judges each one for whatever good and wrong they do (e.g., see Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Ezekiel 33:17-20; Matthew 12:36-37; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 6:7-10; Ephesians 6:8; Revelation 20:12).

Next, the living LORD God commanded the people:

This is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Do not scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD…. So, love truth and peace.” Zechariah 8:16-17, 19, New Living Translation 2nd Edition

Once again, the prophet Zechariah gave the SAME MESSAGE the living LORD God gave to His other Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. The living LORD God commanded His people to be honest, peaceful, and good by telling the TRUTH, the whole truth, when we speak and never tell lies and falsehoods (Zechariah 8:16-17; see also Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11-12; Psalm 15:2; Proverbs 12:17-22; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9). Moreover, the living LORD God commanded His people to do the right thing towards one another by being honest, fair (not-prejudice), and peaceful, particularly in the court system (Zechariah 8:16, 19; see also Amos 5:14-15; Zechariah 7:9). Even more, the living LORD God demanded His people not to plot and scheme to hurt or slander others and never take unfair advantage of others (Zechariah 8:17; see also Leviticus 19:13-18; Psalm 15:3, 5; Proverbs 3:28-30; Proverbs 6:16-19; Micah 2:1; Zechariah 7:9-10; Romans 12:9-21). The living LORD God declares that He punishes and hates such evildoing and wickedness (Zechariah 8:17; see also Zechariah 5:4). However, the living LORD God promised that those who seek and walk in truth and goodness and does not harm nor take unfair advantage of others will enter His Kingdom and enjoy His abundant blessings (e.g., see Psalm 15:1-5; Psalm 24:3-6; Jeremiah 7:3-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Revelation 21:6-8; Revelation 22:14-15).

Then, the living LORD God gave another message to His servant Zechariah (see Zechariah 8:18). The living LORD God promised one day He will turn their mourning and fasting into joyous celebrations, festivals, and feasts (Zechariah 8:19; see also Psalm 30:11). While in Exile, the Jewish people had fasted and mourned on the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months in memory of the siege and overthrow of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (e.g. see 2 Kings 25:7, 25; Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:4, 12). Now, the delegation from Bethel returned to Jerusalem and wanted to know from the religious leaders should they keep fasting and mourning (see Zechariah 7:2-5). Zechariah’s answer came to the Bethel delegation in Zechariah 8:19: fasting should now be replaced with feasting!

The living LORD God knew that one day people from all around the world (Gentiles) will come on pilgrimages and pour into Jerusalem from many foreign strong cities to worship Him and seek His grace (favor) and mercy (Zechariah 2:10-11; Zechariah 8:20-22; Zechariah 14:16; see also Psalm 86:9; Psalm 117:1; Isaiah 2:2-3; Isaiah 44:5). In those days, the living LORD God declared that ten men from ten different nations will come and take hold of one Jew by his coat and say, “’Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you” (see Zechariah 8:23, New Century Version).

In conclusion, the message of the prophet Zechariah is the SAME message of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah (Christ), who is also the Son of the living God (e.g., see Matthew 16:16; Mark 1:1; John 20:30-31). Jesus taught EVERYONE on at His initial sermon, His Sermon the Mount, His Sermon the on Plains, and throughout His public ministry to REPENT from sin and evildoing and seek truth, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and goodness (e.g., see Zechariah 1:3-6; Zechariah 7:8-10; Zechariah 8:16-19; Matthew 5:3-16; Matthew 12:7; Matthew 22:37; Matthew 23:23; Luke 5:32; Luke 6:20-13; Luke 15:7, 10; John 8:11).

Like the Old Testament prophets, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught EVERYONE to seek the Kingdom of God FIRST and His righteousness by living blameless, faithful, and good lives (Matthew 6:33; Luke 6:46-49; Luke 8:19-21; Luke 11:27-28; see also e.g., Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; Job 1:1; Deuteronomy 18:13; Psalm 15:1-5; 2 Peter 3:11, 14). As we seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness FIRST, the living LORD God promises to provide all our needs and desires here on earth by His unending grace (e.g., see Matthew 6:25-33; Matthew 28:16-20). Even more, the message of Zechariah and the other Old Testament prophets are the SAME message of Jesus Christ and His New Testament apostles – LOVE THE LIVING LORD GOD, OBEY HIS COMMANDS, AND DO GOOD AND NO HARM TO OTHERS (e.g., see Leviticus 19:1-18; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 8:15, 19-21; Romans 13:8-10; Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; Philippians 1:9-11; Philippians 2:4, 21)!

Very similar to the previous Old Testament prophets, Zechariah was concerned about goodness, honesty, and social justice, particularly for the poor, widows, elderly, oppressed, orphans, and foreigners (e.g., Exodus 22:21-23; Leviticus 19:32-37; Proverbs 22:22-23; Isaiah 1:17, 23; Jeremiah 5:27-28; Jeremiah 21:12; Amos 5:24; James 1:27). Zechariah encouraged the people to obey the LORD’s covenant, especially in matters of justice, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, goodness (righteousness), fairness, and truthfulness (Zechariah 8:15-17; see also Leviticus 25:17; Deuteronomy 22:1; Isaiah 56:1; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8: Zephaniah 2:3). In the past, Israel and Judah failed to obey these moral covenant instructions sent by His Spirit to the holy prophets, and the living LORD God punished and scattered His evil and rebellious people (Zechariah 1:4; Zechariah 2:6; Zechariah 7:11-14; see also Deuteronomy 28:33; Jeremiah 22:3-5, 17; Ezekiel 5:9-12).

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
Ryrie Study Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

[1] Some translations state Zechariah received his message in late November of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign.  Many dates in Zechariah’s prophecy can be cross-checked with dates surviving in official Persian records.

[2] The Holy Scriptures describes three Temples. The first Temple was built and completed by King Solomon but later destroyed by the Babylonian army in 586 BC (e.g., see 1 Kings 5:1-9:10; 2 Kings 25:8-21; Jeremiah 52:12-27). The second Temple was completed under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua after the Babylonian Exile (see Ezra 6:15-16). In Zechariah’s prophecy, the prophet along with the prophet Haggai encouraged the Jews to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. In the New Testament, Herod the Great expanded the second Temple and this expansion is referred to as Herod’s Temple. All three Temples were located on a prominent hill north of David’s capital city, which he conquered from the Jebusites (see 2 Samuel 5:6-7). The book of Chronicles identifies this hill with Mount Moriah, where Abraham had been willing to offer Isaac (2 Chronicles 3:1; see also Genesis 22:1-14). Thus, the Temple mount in Jerusalem is called Mount Moriah. Today, the Temple’s location is now the site of the Dome of the Rock, center of the Muslim enclosure called Haram es-Sharif (the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina). This enclosure is basically what is left of Herod’s enlarged Temple platform, the masonry of which may best be seen in its Western Wall, the holiest place within Judaism since the Roman destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD 70. The Apostle Paul thought of the church and believers of Jesus as the new Temple indwelt with the Holy Spirit (LORD’s Presence) (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). For the Apostle John, the ideal which the Temple represented will ultimately be realized in the “new Jerusalem” (see Revelation 21:2).