A PRELUDE TO A LOOK FORWARD
Zechariah 8:1-3 (KJV):
“Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me saying,
Thus says the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus says the LORD;
I am returning unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem will be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.”
Some things to notice:
- The LORD of hosts or more precisely The LORD of Heaven’s Armies. This phrase occurs 18 times. This encompasses the whole of the heavens and universe. There is no power that can stand against Him.
It’s the greatest exultation of His name in terms of sovereignty and power.
This is a powerful message at a time when Israel and Jerusalem have been desolate for 70 years and the powerful Medo-Persian Empire is seemingly in control.
- He is the Lord of the armies of Israel. Ever since coming out of Egypt, Israel was organized not just by tribes, but by armies. They were only victorious when led by the Lord, who gave them victory. It is a powerful reminder that they can overcome any earthly obstacle as long as they’re in submission to God. Regardless of their small numbers, when God is on their side, they are undefeatable when it comes to achieving His purposes.
- He is the Lord of the armies of the earth! God gave power to whomever He wished, even using others to punish Israel for their sin and disobedience. It conveys a message that God is in control regardless of the appearance of circumstances from an earthly point of view.
- He is the Lord of the heavens. The predominant false religion of Israel’s captors was the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. This title expresses the foolishness of engaging in the worship of things which are already in subjection to the One True God, and a reminder of His superiority over the gods of their captors.1
The Lord is jealous for Zion with great jealousy.
As I’ve mention on several previous occasions, there is a stark difference in Scripture between the words jealousy and covetousness.
Covetousness is the desire for something that does not belong to you – “don’t covet your neighbour’s wife – whereas jealousy is desire for something that does belong to you. For example, God is jealous for Israel and for Jerusalem because they both belong to Him. Israel is often compared to an unfaithful wife who has looked elsewhere and committed fornication – in this context – gone after other gods – spiritual fornication.
“With great fury” – H2534 – hot displeasure, rage, burning anger! This is a ratcheted up anger, both for Jerusalem and Zion.
Zion from H6726 actually means, “parched place” or “sunny place.” It is a word whose root is “signpost, monument, market. And a second root word for Zion carries the meaning, “to excel, to be preeminent, to be perpetual, to be overseer and to be enduring.
So Zion, as referenced to Jerusalem carries the name of God, and is His choice for His future place of dwelling. He promises her to be preeminent among all nations, to be perpetual and enduring.
It was a parched place in the beginning, a place in the midst of desert, and it will soon be a place of God’s parching wrath when the nations of the world gather against her and against God. Listen to Zephaniah 3:8:
“Therefore wait upon me, says the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them my indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth will be devoured with fire of my jealousy.”
Ever wonder what God’s determination is? Here we have it! To gather all nations and kingdoms and to pour out all His fierce fire of jealousy!
Later in chapter 12 we will be confronted with verse 2:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they will be in the siege both against Judea and against Jerusalem.”
The Lord promises to return to Zion, Jerusalem. This occurs at His physical second coming and this will be addressed later in chapter 12.
In these first three verses of Zechariah we are also told that the city Jerusalem will be called “A city of truth.” It will carry this moniker because of Him who will dwell there. Jesus is The Truth, and so His dwelling within the city of Jerusalem will cause Jerusalem to be “a city of truth.” Praise God!
Here, truth from H571 means firmness and faithfulness. It is from a root word meaning foster mother/foster father. We have been adopted into the vine as adopted children of the Most High God. More on this to come.
“And the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.” Remember that mountains represent kingdoms and here we have the Kingdom of the LORD.
Looking ahead and looking about.
The promises of what is to come but in the meantime get busy building the temple and the walls.
Zechariah chapter 9 begins with several prophecies regarding some heathen kingdoms including Damascus, Hamath, Tyrus, Zidon, Gaza and Ekron. These domed kingdoms are contrasted with the future elevation of Israel with the promise of the coming King. Verses 9 and 10 of Zechariah 9 head up the promise of their Messiah and King.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you: he is just and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the fowl of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be cut off. And he will speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion will be from sea even to sea, and from river even to the ends of the earth.”
A familiar passage that contains so much for our consideration. This coming Messiah, King, exhibits manifold characteristics.
- He is just – true justice will come with Him. No more cheating of weights and measures; no more taking advantage of the poor and the fatherless. No more bribery; no more killing for profit sake; no more bearing false witness.
- Having salvation – his free gift of forgiveness – the grace of salvation. In Him was life and the life was the light of men, John 1. Salvation offered to all including the heathen.
- He is lowly – pride has been vanquished by the Servant Jesus, the Son of Man who humbled Himself to death, even the death of the cross. The One who learned obedience to the Father’s will. This humility is exemplified by His entrance into Jerusalem riding upon a donkey and not a white stallion.
Speaking of His entrance into Jerusalem on this first occasion I must take you back, back to March 14th 445 B.C. to the courts of Artaxerxes Longimanus when this Persian king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem with a contingent of others to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
But first we need some context regarding the Persian kings.
- Cyrus the first king reigned from 550-529 B.C. This was the Cyrus that God called by name and his decree allowed the Jews to return to rebuild their temple. See Isa. 44:28.
- His grandson Darius reigned from 522-486 B.C. and he is the king reigning here during Zechariah’s time and under whom Zerubbabel completed the temple.
- Next was King Zerxes or King Ahasuerus of Esther fame – 486-645 B.B.
- This brings us to King Artaxerxes, 465-425 B.C. who gave the famous and critical decree to allow Nehemiah and Ezra to return to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls and gates and streets.
Let me highlight Nehemiah 2:1-8.
- Nehemiah was the cup bearer for king Artaxerxes.
- One day, March 14 445 B.C. he was serving the king but his countenance was sad. The king inquired about this sadness.
- I am in sorrow because the place of my fathers’ graves lie in waste and the gates of the city are in ruins.
- The king replied, well, what do you want of me?
- Then a critical little sentence – “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Not by our own understanding or by our own opinion!)
- So Nehemiah asked if he could leave for a season to go and rebuild Jerusalem. The phrase he uses to address the king is that same as that uttered years before by Esther – “If it please the king, and if I have found favour in your sight . . .” followed by the request to return and rebuild Jerusalem.
- He receives the king’s blessings along with letters of passage and the promise of lumber and money to help complete the task. The King issues a decree that God references to Daniel in 9:25 to allow the Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem. This is declared on March 14th 445 B.C.
Here is what God says to Daniel in 9:25 NIV:
“Know and understand this: from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’, and sixty two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and trench, but in times of trouble.”
So, there will be 69 ‘sevens’ until Jesus comes to Jerusalem, or 69 x7 years.
Without going into too much detail there would pass 69x7x360 = 173,880 days until Jesus would enter Jerusalem. (360 prophetic year).
Sir Robert Anderson of Scotland Yard did the math for us and arrived at the exact date Jesus would ride into Jerusalem – April 6th 32 A.D.
The “Triumphal Entry” was Jesus presenting Himself as king according to the exact prophecy of Daniel.
Getting back to Zechariah 9, “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, your king come to you . . .riding upon a donkey.”
Jesus first came and was rejected by the religious leadership. And we are reminded of His cry in Matthew 23 verses 37-39.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, You will not see me henceforth until you will say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
So, during a time of great rejoicing as Zechariah sees the temple coming to completion there is a shadow over the nation once again.
The decree that set in motion the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and established the very day of Messiah’s coming to the newly established temple and city, there hovers the cloud of rejection for the very One that is coming.
We have seen here in Zechariah that God wants doers of His word and not hearers only. James 1:22; 2:14-26. We have read the things that most upset God in the lives of believers. But here is another list, given in Proverbs 6 beginning at the 16th verse:
“These six things does the Lord hate: yea seven are an abomination to him.
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked imagination,
Feet that are quick in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaks lies,
And he that sows discord among brethren.”
These are not unique to Zechariah’s time.
In spite of our failures there is hope – there is always hope in God’s agenda.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Again in John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
He is coming again, and very soon. He is coming for us and He is coming for Jerusalem. He has not given up on us nor has He abandoned His people nor His city. The next several chapters speak to this.
He will be separating out the foolish shepherds. He is gathering together His body of believers for the rapture and He is gathering together His people Israel from the corners of the earth. To put them once and forever into His land, where He will return and plead with them and the nations of the world.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh” Luke 21:28.
1 Zechariah commentary Walk with the Word 2020.