Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 27 2019 - Zechariah 8 – Promise of blessing for Jerusalem

In chapter 7 the Lord had warned his people against falling back into the insincere and half-hearted worship that had provoked the exile; he calls them to undivided devotion to him.

But God's word of warning is now followed by a word of promise. The Lord promises to return to dwell with his people in Jerusalem, "Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain" (v. 3). The Lord Almighty will do this because he is "very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her" (v.2).

We are reminded here that jealousy, at least in the way this term is used in the Bible, is not necessarily a negative term. The Lord is jealous for his people as a husband is jealous concerning his wife; he does not wish to share her with anyone else and is moved to anger when her affections stray towards others. This jealousy is an aspect of the love which wants to embrace and hold the one whom it loves. God's jealousy had turned to wrath when his people turned to other gods and he had sent them off into exile. But his is a faithful love; he cannot let his people go. So he promises to bring them back to their land and to dwell among them once more.

The Lord declares that he is going to bring back his scattered 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" (v. 7). So he commands them to get on with rebuilding the temple so that it will be ready for him to move into.

You will remember that Haggai had told the people that because they had neglected to rebuild God's house, they had suffered poor harvests and insecurity in the land. The Lord now repeats the promise made through Haggai that if they will only be diligent in completing the temple he will send them abundant harvests and will pour out his blessings upon them. Nor will these blessings be for them alone:

Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. (v. 13)

When they are faithful to the Lord they will also be the source of blessing to the other nations around them – just as God had promised Abraham. The Lord urges his people not to be afraid and promises:

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. … In those days ten people 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." (vv. 20-23)

These promises point beyond anything that happened in the Old Testament era. They point forward to the Lord Jesus and the kingdom which he is building, a kingdom made up of people from every nation under heaven. They challenge us to be a people whose faithfulness to the Lord our God and to Jesus our Redeemer is only matched and exceeded by his manifest presence with us and his blessing poured out upon us. It challenges us to be a people whose lives attract others not just to us, but to the living God whose presence is seen among us (see 1 Corinthians 14:24-25). How are we living up to this challenge?

Living God, we pray that the power of the risen Lord Jesus and the presence of your Spirit amongst us may be evident even to those who do not yet share our faith in you. May they be drawn to you through us and confess, "God is really among you". May they be drawn to faith in you.

Peter Misselbrook