The problem with religion is that it gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus. In these next chapters, God, through Zechariah, answers the question of some religious Jews and reveals prophesies on Jesus’ return as the King of Kings. Let’s dig in…
Zechariah 7 – A Call to Justice and Mercy
On December 7 of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech, along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. 3 They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction, as we have done for so many years?”
4 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message in reply: 5 “Say to all your people and your priests, ‘During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? 6 And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves? 7 Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah were well populated?’”
8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: 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.
13 “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 14 As with a whirlwind, I scattered them among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”Zechariah 7 NLT
Zechariah 8 – Promised Blessings for Jerusalem
Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!
3 “And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion, and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.
4 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. 5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.
6 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. 8 I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God.
9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building. 10 Before the work on the Temple began, there were no jobs and no money to hire people or animals. No traveler was safe from the enemy, for there were enemies on all sides. I had turned everyone against each other.
11 “But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings. 13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!
14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But 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. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”
18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.
20 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. 21 The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ 22 Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing.
23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
Zechariah 9 – Prophecy Against Israel’s Enemies and the Coming King
This is the message from the Lord against the land of Aram (Hadrach) and the city of Damascus, for the eyes of humanity, including all the tribes of Israel, are on the Lord.
2 Doom is certain for Hamath,
and for the cities of Tyre and Sidon,
though they are so clever.
3 Tyre has built a strong fortress
and has made silver and gold
as plentiful as dust in the streets!
4 But now the Lord will strip away Tyre’s possessions
and hurl its fortifications into the sea,
and it will be burned to the ground.
5 The city of Ashkelon will see Tyre fall
and will be filled with fear.
Gaza will shake with terror,
as will Ekron, for their hopes will be dashed.
Gaza’s king will be killed,
and Ashkelon will be deserted.
6 Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod.
I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.
7 I will grab the bloody meat from their mouths
and snatch the detestable sacrifices from their teeth.
Then the surviving Philistines will worship our God
and become like a clan in Judah.
The Philistines of Ekron will join my people,
as the ancient Jebusites once did.
8 I will guard my Temple
and protect it from invading armies.
I am watching closely to ensure
that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land.
Zion’s Coming King
9 Rejoice, O people(O Daughter) of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.
10 I will remove the battle chariots from 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.
13 Judah is my bow,
and Israel is my arrow.
Jerusalem is my sword,
and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks.
14 The Lord will appear above his people;Zechariah 9 NLT
his arrows will fly like lightning!
The Sovereign Lord will sound the ram’s horn
and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert.
15 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will protect his people,
and they will defeat their enemies by hurling great stones.
They will shout in battle as though drunk with wine.
They will be filled with blood like a bowl,
drenched with blood like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people,
just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
17 How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
and the young women will flourish on new wine.
Don’t Mess with God!
Depending on which Bible translation or version you use, in the Old Testament, you’ll see God referred to either as the Lord …
- of Hosts
- of Angel Armies
What does it mean?
“Hosts” are all created agencies, beings and forces that are under the leadership or dominion of Yahweh, who made and maintains them. It expresses God’s / Yahweh’s great power. In other words, don’t mess with the Lord of EVERYTHING.
Losing Respect and Fear of the Lord
The Jews, after being 70 years in exile, living among the pagans, literally lost sight of God. They invented rituals like fasting and mourning at designated times. Interestingly, God NEVER told them to fast!
Consequently, instead of bringing them closer to God, the rites and rituals, aka religion, got between them and the Lord Almighty. The question was why were they fasting? Check out Matthew 6:16. (Related: Ash Wednesday and Fasting for Lent)
It was 2 years into Zerubbabel’s rebuilding of the temple. The temple was halfway done. These 2 guys come to Zechariah to ask him if they should keep fasting and mourning. First of all, they were back in their land. That’s something to celebrate, not mourn. They needed to go from fasting to feasting!
They also needed a pep-talk to motivate them to finish the temple.
- 8:8 – Fulfilled in 1967, when rule over Jerusalem was turned over to Israel.
- 9:3-4 – Fulfilled in 332 BC, when Alexander the Great conquered Tyre after Nebuchadnezzar failed. Read the story here.
- 9:9 – Fulfilled c. 30 AD, when Jesus road into Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey’s colt as King of the Jews.
Prophecies Yet to be Fulfilled
- Yeshua Hamashiach – Messiah will rule to the ends of the earth
- He will rescue His people
- There will be peace among all the nations and no more war or weapons
Woe to the person who stops listening to God!
Religion complicates things and brings on a guilt trip as we try to out religion each other. God hates religion. He hated how the Hebrews back in the Old Testament fasted more to show off than to get close to God. Jesus hated it when He came the first time, and He will put an end to it when He sends the False Prophet and the Antichrist into the lake of fire.
Have YOU stopped listening to God and are listening to the world?
Jesus didn’t suffer torture and die so we could have religion! He died so He could have a Personal Relationship with YOU!
What are you waiting for?