1The LORD All-Powerful said to me:
2I love Zion so much that her enemies make me angry.3I will return to Jerusalem and live there on Mount Zion. Then Jerusalem will be known as my faithful city, and Zion will be known as my holy mountain.
4Very old people with walking sticks will once again sit around in Jerusalem,5while boys and girls play in the streets.6This may seem impossible for my people who are left, but it isn't impossible for me, the LORD All-Powerful.7I will save those who were taken to lands in the east and the west,8and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, faithful to bring about justice.
9I am the LORD All-Powerful! So don't give up. Think about the message my prophets spoke when the foundation of my temple was laid.10Before that time, neither people nor animals were rewarded for their work, and no one was safe anywhere, because I had turned them against each other.
11My people, only a few of you are left, and I promise not to punish you as I did before.12Instead, I will make sure that your crops are planted in peace and your vineyards are fruitful, that your fields are fertile and the dew falls from the sky.13People of Judah and Israel, you have been a curse to the nations, but I will save you and make you a blessing to them. So don't be afraid or lose courage.
14When your ancestors made me angry, I decided to punish you with disasters, and I didn't hold back.15Now you no longer need to be afraid. I have decided to treat Jerusalem and Judah with kindness.16But you must be truthful with each other, and in court you must give fair decisions that lead to peace.17Don't ever plan evil things against others or tell lies under oath. I, the LORD, hate such things.
18The LORD All-Powerful told me to say:
19People of Judah, I, the LORD, demand that whenever you go without food as a way of worshipping me, it should become a time of celebration. No matter if it's the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, or the tenth month, you should have a joyful festival. So love truth and live at peace.
20I tell you that people will come here from cities everywhere.21Those of one town will go to another and say, “We're going to ask the LORD All-Powerful to treat us with kindness. Come and join us.”
22Many people from strong nations will come to Jerusalem to worship me and to ask me to treat them with kindness.23When this happens, ten people from nations with different languages will grab a Jew by his clothes and say, “Let us go with you. We've heard that God is on your side.” I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken!
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
Painful memories can often be an incentive for achieving a better future. And there has been much in Zechariah’s words to the people of Jerusalem and Judah to motivate them to change by reminding them of their difficult past. But now Zechariah adds a new note to his sermon: it is a glimpse of the future God has in store for them. “Don’t give up”, the Lord says to them, “think about the message my prophets spoke when the foundation of my temple was laid” (8:9).
The message of the prophets, and Zechariah’s own message, is one of a glorious destiny for God’s people. The contrast with the miserable conditions discovered by those who had recently returned to Jerusalem can hardly be imagined. But the vision is beautiful, even by modern standards. For it features a society that values both youth and old age, both men and women, both natives and immigrants. The fields fertile and the streets safe, Mount Zion will make people think of God’s holiness and the city of Jerusalem will remind them of His faithfulness. Where before God’s people had a reputation as a magnet for trouble, in the days to come they will have a reputation as a source of blessing. Best of all, God will live among them, and He will treat Jerusalem and Judah with kindness (8:3, 15). With the Lord in their midst, the days of fasting will turn to celebration and the nations around them will beg to come to Jerusalem to join God’s people in worship of the All-Powerful One.
Alas, this transcendent vision is attractive to us today because it is so much better than the grim reality of our world. And yet, the transformation is underway, for the Lord All-Powerful also goes by the name “Immanuel,” “God with us.” God is now, literally, on our side (8:23), and through His Church the nations of the world will be blessed (Revelation 7:9, 10).
Blessed are you All-Powerful Lord, because in the mystery of the Word made flesh, you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your Son Jesus Christ. Grant us grace to live in joyful obedience to Him, we pray. Amen.