Zechariah 7:4-8:23

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

INTRODUCTION:

We are in the process of considering Zechariah 7-8 where two men had come from Bethel to Jerusalem to ask the priests if they should continue observing the fasts the Jews had been observing regarding things which had occurred as a result of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem.

 

Nearly two years had passed since the rebuilding of the temple had resumed in 520 B.C. The temple would not be completed for another two years.

 

We have already considered Zechariah 7:1-3 .

 

 III.     The Questions Concerning Fasts, 7:1 - 8:23

            A.  The Fasts, 7:1-3 

 

(BKC) Nearly two years after the night visions (December 7, 518 B.C.) . . . and about halfway through the period of temple rebuilding (520-516) Zechariah gave four messages. Three of the messages were introduced by “the word of the LORD Almighty came to me” (7:4; 8:1; 8:18). The second message was introduced similarly: “The word of the LORD came again to Zechariah” (7:8). These messages were given in response to a delegation that came to Jerusalem to ask whether the nation should continue to fast in remembrance of Jerusalem’s destruction. The delegates were evidently Jews (in spite of their foreign names, apparently acquired in Babylon) who came from Bethel . . ., the Israelite city 12 miles north of Jerusalem that had been the center of apostate worship for the Northern 10 tribes of Israel. . . .

 

Zechariah 7:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu [i.e. December 7, 518 B.C.];

 

Zechariah 7:2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,

 

Zechariah 7:3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

 

7:3 – (RSB) The question was this: Since the Temple was being rebuilt, was it now necessary to keep the fast in the fifth month, which commemorated the burning of the first Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. . .?

 

            B.  The Failure of the People, 7:4-14

 

Zechariah 7:4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,

 

Zechariah 7:5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?

 

Zechariah 7:6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

 

Zechariah 7:7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

 

7:4-7. (BKC) The answer to the delegates’ question was not given till the fourth message (8:18-19). Meanwhile the first divine message reminded the people that God warned their fathers through the earlier prophets that He wanted reality, not ritual. . . . The question provided an occasion to rebuke self-imposed fasts that not only were antiquated by God’s present blessing on the returned remnant but also were observed without proper motivation and spiritual attitude. Thus the rebuke was against empty formalism devoid of spiritual reality, for whether fasting or feasting, they were doing it not for the Lord (Zech. 7:5) but for themselves (v. 6).

 

7:5-7 – (RSB) The fast in the seventh month commemorated the assassination of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor of Judah (II Kings 25:23-25 ). Though done from good motives; these fasts were nevertheless manmade, were not commanded by God, and were observed self-righteously (v. 6). Had the people heeded God’s word through the prophets, they would not have experienced captivity and would have had no need for the fasts (v. 7).

 

Zechariah 7:8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,

 

Zechariah 7:9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment [i.e. justice], and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

 

Zechariah 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

 

7:8-10. (BKC) The second message from the LORD centered on the conduct of the earlier generation that resulted in the Exile. In preexilic times, as in Zechariah’s own day, God desired inner spiritual reality rather than external formalism.

 

Zechariah 7:11 But they [i.e. the previous generation that went into exile] refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

 

(RSB) pulled away the shoulder. Lit., offered a stubborn shoulder.

 

Zechariah 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone [i.e. as hard as flint], lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts [i.e. the LORD of heaven’s armies] hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.

 

7:12 – (RSB) an adamant stone. A very hard stone.

 

Zechariah 7:13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried [i.e. as the LORD of hosts in his spirit by the former prophets proclaimed], and they [i.e. people of Judah] would not hear; so they [i.e. people of Judah] cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:

 

Zechariah 7:14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

 

7:13-14 – (RSB) Disobedience resulted in unanswered prayer, scattering, and desolation.

Zechariah 8

 

 III.     The Questions Concerning Fasts (continued), 7:1 - 8:23

            C.  The Future for Jerusalem, 8:1-23

 

8:1-8 – (RSB) Some features of this glorious picture of Jerusalem were evident in the Maccabean times (second century B.C.), but the complete fulfillment awaits the establishment of the millennial kingdom. Jerusalem will be secure for seniors and children alike (vv. 4-5) and the people will be regathered from all parts of the world (v. 8).

 

(BKC) . . . Chapter 8 reflects the promised blessings pictured throughout the night visions (1:7 - 6:8). Thus the third and fourth messages view the restoration from Exile in Zechariah’s day as a precursor of future blessing and prosperity in the Millennial Age. They also place emphasis on that future time when righteousness, justice, and peace will fill the earth.

 

Zechariah 8:1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,

 

Zechariah 8:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion [i.e. Jerusalem] with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury [i.e. with great fervor].

 

Zechariah 8:3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain [i.e. Christ will reign over the earth on the temple site].

 

(BKC) God’s resumed presence with His people when He will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem (cf. 2:12) anticipates millennial fulfillment through the personal reign of Christ on the throne of David.

 

Zechariah 8:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff [i.e. with his cane] in his hand for very age [i.e. because of great age].

 

Zechariah 8:5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

 

Zechariah 8:6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.

 

Although this may seem impossible to the Jewish people at this time, it is not impossible for the LORD to accomplish.

 

Zechariah 8:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country [i.e. from all over the world];

 

Zechariah 8:8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

 

Zechariah 8:9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong [i.e. to complete the rebuilding of the temple], ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets [i.e. Haggai and Zechariah], which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

 

Zechariah 8:10 For before these days there was no hire [i.e. there were no wages] for man, nor any hire [i.e. nor any wage] for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.

 

8:10 – (RSB) before. When they started the Temple, there was mostly discouragement (cf. Ezra 4:1-5 ).

 

They accomplished little and their enemies made things unsafe for them.

 

Zechariah 8:11 But now I will not be unto the residue [i.e. unto the remnant] of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.

 

Zechariah 8:12 For the seed shall be prosperous [i.e. the seed will grow well]; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

 

Zechariah 8:13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

 

Zechariah 8:14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not [i.e. I showed no pity]:

 

Zechariah 8:15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

 

Zechariah 8:16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

 

Zechariah 8:17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.

 

Zechariah 8:18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,

 

Zechariah 8:19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

 

8:19 – (RSB) The fast of the fourth month commemorated Nebuchadnezzar’s entering Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (II Kings 25:3-4 ). The fifth commemorated the burning of the Temple and other buildings in 586. The seventh remembered Gedaliah’s assassination. The tenth recalled the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 (II Kings 25:1 ). All these fasts (see 7:3 and 7:5-7) will be turned into feast days when Israel is restored. . . .

 

(BKC) . . . The fasts would become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals. . . . These fasts were all self-imposed and had been observed for 70 years . . . with sorrowful hearts and misdirected motives. . . . These fasts are still observed by some Jews today. But at the Lord’s Second Advent these fasts will be turned into feasts, symbolizing millennial joy. . . .

 

Zechariah 8:20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:

 

Zechariah 8:21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

 

Zechariah 8:22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

 

Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt [i.e. of the garment] of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

 

8:23 – (RSB) Gentiles, too, will seek the blessings and knowledge of God in the Millennium.