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In our study of Zechariah chapter eight, we look at the past, present, and future favor of God on His people, Israel. God called them to be His people and He has never changed His mind regarding them. In chapter seven, we saw that God's desire was for the hearts of His people to be focused on Him. Now, we will see the blessings that come from such a heart and how these blessings are used as a tool for evangelism of the Gentile people.
"Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me." NIV translation
Each name of God has a particular meaning and purpose to it and this is an unfortunate translation of the original Hebrew. In the Hebrew, the name used in this chapter is "Lord of Hosts" which means Lord of armies. The name Lord Almighty (El Shaddai) speaks of God the supplier while Lord of Hosts speaks of God the Commander (leader). This is important as the Jews of this time were looking for God to send a great military commander to restore the name and country of His people. The Jews of Jesus' time were looking for the same thing when He rode into Jerusalem as our Savior. They rejected Him because He was not what they expected.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.'" NIV translation
God begins by telling His people that He loves them. We often forget that jealousy can come from love as we see in the words of the prophet Zephaniah. God loves this people but He also wants them for Himself and not to be shared with all kinds of foreign gods. That is the same thing that He wants for each and every one of His children (both Jew and Gentile).
"This is what the Lord says: 'I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.'" NIV translation
This verse speaks of the millennial kingdom that John spoke of in Revelation 20. This is when Jesus returns with His armies from heaven and the devil and his influence will be removed from the earth. Jesus will then reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.'" NIV translation
During this thousand year reign, both the elderly and the child will live together in harmony in Jerusalem. In our society, today, it is common to put the older generation in some type of home to get them out of the way but that will not be so in Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom. This will serve as an example to those who do not know Jesus as they see true love for people of all ages.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?' declares the Lord Almighty." NIV translation
This thousand year reign will be a wonderful time but God reminds them that He has even better things for them (and us) ahead.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.'" NIV translation
During this time, the Jews will be brought back to live with Jesus in Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that God says "they will be my people" which implies that they are not at this time. We are in the "church age" where God's people includes both Jews and Gentiles as long as they believe in Jesus Christ.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built. Before that time there were no wages for man or beast. No one could go about his business safely because of his enemy, for I had turned every man against his neighbor. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,' declares the Lord Almighty." NIV translation
God gives his people permission to rebuild His temple during this reign. He tells them (and us) that the reason it has not happened before this time is that God has prevented it because there was not peace. We see in this passage a reminder that, although something may be good and in God's will, it still must be done at the proper time.
"'The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.'" NIV translation
During this time, Judah and Israel will return to the land that God has given them and they will be blessed. Through them, God will bless the nations even though, today, many nations curse God's people. God tells them to be strong (not afraid) during the time that the nations curse them. This is the same thing that Paul was telling the Romans when he said, 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (see Romans 8)
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Just as I had determined to bring disaster upon you and showed no pity when your fathers angered me,' says the Lord Almighty, 'so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid.'" NIV translation
God encourages His people by telling them that their blessing is going to be just as big as the judgment that they have been through. As we see in the book of Revelation, things are going to be pretty tough for the Jews that have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah before this kingdom is established.
"'These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,' declares the Lord." NIV translation
God tells them that this blessing will come to them if they repent of their ways. He tells them to turn from their corruption and love their neighbors.
"Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'" NIV translation
We see, here, that God will give them feast days and not fast days. Fast days were based on the activities of man while feast days were based on a celebration of the activities of God. This millennial reign will be a time of celebration of what God has done not an obligation for man to perform rituals. It is the same with us who are in Christ in that God wants us to be happy and to celebrate Christ not walk around all sad and burdened with obligations from the law. We are free from the law by the grace of God and we celebrate and walk in that freedom!
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, "Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going." And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.'" NIV translation
During this reign on the earth, everyone will know that God is in Jerusalem. They will travel there to see the Lord and His people.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, "Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."'" NIV translation
Throughout the Bible the number ten is associated with the earthly completion of the divine order. Here, we see that all of the earth will observe that God is with His people in this kingdom on earth. That is the purpose of the millennial reign as well as our purpose here on earth today.