THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH
Peace in the Context of Truth
Zechariah 8 SCC 4/3/11
It can get exhausting dealing with everyone’s view of truth. For some truth is relative. That is, true things are sometimes true. For others truth is absolute. That is true things are always true. But how can we test whether something is true? Some say we cannot know what is true but then that statement cannot be known to be true either. Others say truth must be doubted but then this statement must also be doubted. A skeptic who is truly skeptical would have to be skeptical about his skepticism. Still others say truth must be believed but if faith is a test for truth then we could believe contradictory things, all being true. Some teach that truth must be experienced but an experience cannot be used to prove the truth of that experience. Meaning must be brought to it. More say truth must be factual but facts do not speak for themselves. Facts must be understood in a context. And some claim truth must be practical but what may be viewed as successful only shows something works not truth. God says that one day peace will reign in the context of truth v 8. He calls His people to love truth and peace v 19. God has determined that in the end truth will reign. No more squabbles about it. No more competing against it. Truth will win and there will be peace in it’s realm. This is God’s desire for His people and it is going to happen when God restores and renews all things in His Kingdom.
TRUTH WILL FINALLY GOVERN THE NATIONS 1-8
God is Exceedingly Jealous 1-2
God is testifying of his Zeal for His people. The idea is that God does not tolerate any rivals real or imagined. He is zealous to protect His uniqueness. He is jealous for His people’s affection. He is protective of His people against anyone who may lay their claim on them. So he safeguards our interests and comes to our defense. Throughout Scripture we are confronted with the reality of God’s care and concern for us. His eye is upon us. He hears our prayers. He watches our steps. He guides our paths. He cares for us. The zealous jealousy is qualified by ‘I am zealous for her with rage’! Anyone countering God’s purposes for His people can expect and will incur his awful wrath.
An Astounding Transformation 3-5
God will return to Zion and settle in Jerusalem. He has settled in Jerusalem at least with this remnant but now he says he will live there permanently. And when this happens Jerusalem will be radically transformed. It will be known as “City of Truth”. In the past Isaiah said truth was absent in the city (Isa 59:14-15). But it will be revived and come and live there again. It will also be ‘the mountain of the Lord of Hosts’ a ‘Holy Mountain’. Psa 2:6 and 48:1-2 identifies this as the city of the great King, the Messiah.
The transformation will include a repopulation of the city v 4-5. There will be a day when the oldest to the youngest will inhabit the city. Not now with just a remnant. Not 80 yrs later when even Nehemiah’s exiles arrive. But one day! Old men with staffs to lean on and streets filled with children at play is an entire scene filled with happiness, security, and peace. This is not heaven since people are getting old and others are being born. This is a future literal Jerusalem on the earth in the Millennium.
This astounding transformation would have to be miraculous to be believed. Sure to be skeptical in Zechariah’s day of this prophecy, God declares that what seems difficult to them is not too difficult for God. With only a remnant of the people there this seems absurd. But God declares in v 7 that he will restore them back to this land from the very ends of the earth where they have been scattered. God will bring them back by His grace v 8. Israel will finally be His people and God will be their God. All is to be done in the context of ‘truth and righteousness’. The wayward Israelites will return again to God and the promises He has made to them.
LESSON: The only way to belong to God is to not belong to the world. There can be no competition for your allegiance. Jesus said if you do not hate your father and mother, your husband and wife, your mother and father, and even your own life you cannot be his disciple. God will not share his people or their loyalty with anyone. Praise God that our future is not based on what we can imagine but on what God can imagine. Truth will reign over the entire world
IN THE MEANTIME LIVE AS PEOPLE OF TRUTH 9-11
This section is bracketed with ‘let your hands be strong’ in v 9 and 13. God’s message now turns from the future to the present situation. God has promised to restore, repopulate, and reconfirm His interest and promises. Now it is important that the remnant of people shoulder their responsibilities accordingly.
They need to complete the work on the Temple that was well underway. From the very beginning of construction Haggai and Zechariah have been used of God to command and encourage the people to get on with the business of building the Temple. When they were called to rearrange their priorities and put the temple in its proper place within their community and move from the foundation to the building. Stay at it. Life in Judah with these priorities had been very difficult especially near the end. There was severe unemployment in the former days when neither men nor their beasts earned a wage. There had been social unrest when no one dared to come or go because of the crime and violence. God Himself had set man against man causing distress throughout the entire community—social disintegration within their own country. God had removed the moral restraint of evil men making them free to pursue violence.
But Now 11-13
God will not repeat this in the present since the preaching of the prophets had been effective. Blessing will be the immediate outcome for this remnant as they take charge of their obedience. Planting time will not be interrupted v 12. There will be sufficient dew to water the land. God will supply for them and their future posterity because he had promised so to Abraham. He will bless them so they will be a blessing. No longer will they be a curse v 13. God will deliver them from that—both the house of Judah and the house of Israel. They will become a blessing. This promise is meant to be a motivation to finish the work they have begun
LESSON: For you and me today we have the promise of future reward and of the blessing of heaven as motivation for making disciples now. In a sense we are building temples today but they are spiritual ones. We have our hands and hearts to the task of building up the body of Christ and participating in the work of producing fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. People are the temples today and we must invest in their spiritual and personal lives. Like this remnant, it is not done by our power but by his. We put our hand to the plow but understand that it is the work of the spirit to build the temple. Live out the truth and reality of Jesus Christ in your life, your marriage, your family, and your private life.
TRUTH WINS 14-23
The point of these verses is the restoration and promised prosperity of Judah. God has certain expectations of her. This means she must comply with the stipulations of the covenant made with her. God had brought harm to their forefathers because they had provoked him to such v 14. It was a punishment that had to be inflicted and God determined that it was fully meted out. But what He had done with respect to their fathers is the exact opposite of what He will do now v 15. He plans to bring benefit not harm. Do not fear. The evidence of a restored present and future is to operate completely with truth. Speak truth and judge with truth. Do not live perjury—lies. On the social plane they must love their fellow Israelite. This is what the Lord declares. All of our dealings with one another must be centered in truth—the way things actually are. No more oppression, bribery, cheating, or killing one another.
We now come full circle—the answer to the question of the Bethel delegation in 7:1-3—they had asked about keeping the fasts. They had mentioned two fasts but here we have two additional ones v 18-19. The 4th month is the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls (Jer 39:2) when this access marked the end of her resistance. The 10th month was the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 25:1; Jer 52:4) nearly 2 and one half years earlier until the walls were penetrated. At least 4 times a year the survivors of these disasters and their descendents remembered these events and mourned. And succinctly God says these tragedies of yesterday will become tomorrow’s triumph—from fasting to feasting! If you want this then God says ‘so love truth and peace’. Believe my promises and follow my law toward one another cp v 16!
Lamentation about the past must be transformed into a time of celebration. What kind? First, There will be a mass pilgrimage of people to seek God in Jerusalem v 20 (Hg 2:7; Isa 2:2-3; 60:10-14; 66:18-23; Jer 3:17; Zech 14). God will be King over all the earth and nations will go up every year to keep feasts in Jerusalem. The purpose of the pilgrimage v 21 is to seek the favor of the Lord. None will be satisfied to only encourage others to go but each will say I will also go! This will be movement on a universal scale v 22. It is not limited to a scattering of cities. In those days will be a time when the nations of the earth will realize that salvation is of Israel and that God can be found in the Temple. At a ten to one ratio v 23 they will outnumber the Jew to seek the face of God. So urgent in fact will be the desire of these peoples that they will seize the garments of Jews—grabbing with intent to not let go confessing that God is in their midst and there is no other God. Jerusalem will be known then as the city of God. Now is the beginning of that process but until then we wait for the full redemption when all will bend the knee and confess Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father
LESSON: Peace is in the context of truth is not compromise. Getting a consensus is not getting to the truth but often is a compromise of it. Peace is defined as conformity to God’s standard and until that happens we will only have compromise to get it.