The Word Made Fresh
1This is what the LORD Almighty said to me: 2“I am very jealous for Zion and very angry. 3I will return to Zion and live in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will come to be known as the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the sacred mountain.”
4The LORD said, “Once again old men and women, each carrying a staff because of their age, will be seen sitting in the streets of Jerusalem. 5The streets will be filled with children playing.” 6And the LORD Almighty says, “Just because it might seem to be impossible to the people who remain there now, doesn’t mean it should seem impossible to me.” 7The LORD Almighty says, “I will rescue my people from the east and from the west, 8and bring them to live in Jerusalem. They will be my faithful and righteous people. I will be their faithful and righteous God.”
9The LORD Almighty says, “You who have been hearing the voices of the prophets who were here when the temple’s foundation was being laid, the temple of the LORD. Now strengthen your hands. 10In days gone by neither people nor animals received any compensation. Nor was there any protection from the enemies who came and went. I made them all turn against each other. 11But I will not deal with the people who remain as I did in days gone by. 12Peace will be sown. Vines will once again bear fruit. The ground will once again produce crops. The skies will give rain and I will enable the few people who remain to have all these things. 13You were cursed among the nations, people of Judah and people of Israel, so I will rescue you and make you a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”
14The LORD Almighty says, “I decided to bring disaster upon you when your ancestors made me angry, and I didn’t change my mind then. 15So now I have decided to do good to Jerusalem and the house of Judah. Have no fear. 16Here is what you should do: be honest with one another. Let the judgments you proclaim in your gates be true and intended to make peace. 17Don’t plan evil against each other. Don’t love false promises – these are all things that I hate,” says the LORD.
18The word of the LORD came to me and said, 19“Thus says the LORD Almighty: the fast you engage in for the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth month, and the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month, will all be occasions of joy and gladness. They will be happy festivals for Judah, but you must love truth and peace.”
20The LORD Almighty says, “People will come from many other cities. 21Those from one city will go to another and invite them to join them to go and seek the favor of the LORD Almighty. Tell them, ‘I am going!’ 22A lot of people, even whole nations, will come and seek the LORD Almighty in Jerusalem, and beg the LORD’s favor.” 23And the LORD says, “In those days ten men from differing nations of differing languages will grab a Jew by his sleeve and say, ‘take us with you, for we have been told that God is with you!”
1-8: Zechariah pictures a time of restoration. He hears God promising to bless Jerusalem and Mt. Zion once again, and sees a vision of a peaceful city with old people and children. In the ruins of Jerusalem during Zechariah’s time it would surely have been hard to believe that such a thing would ever come to pass, but nothing is impossible with God.
9-13: Times are tough, but God will see us through and bless us yet, he tells them. Peace will manifest itself not only in allowing people to grow to ripe old ages and children to play safely in the streets, but also in the fields and vineyards.
Even nature is blessed by God’s blessing of the city.
14-17: God proposes a new covenant and demands only a few things of them: honesty (speak the truth, don’t love false promises), justice (judgments that are true and make for peace), and kindness (don’t plan evil against one another). We are reminded of Micah 6:8: “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly before your God.”
18-19: Times of ritual fasting will become joyful events instead of bitter reminders of food shortages.
20-23: People from everywhere will want to come to Jerusalem; God’s people will be held in high esteem among the nations because everyone will know God is with them.
It had to be hard for the people in Jerusalem to believe what Zechariah was telling them – that God would provide for them and restore them. But God is always ready to do those things for all who recognize God’s call and return to God’s fold.