Today: [Zecheriah 8] Settling the Issue of Jerusalem. Is the church the Jerusalem of prophecy? When the scriptures speak of the future restoration of the city of David, does it only apply to natural Israel, or is there some application that connects with the purposes of God in the church as well? In our chapter today we will consider these questions.
[Zec 8:1-23 KJV] 1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came [to me], saying, 2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. 3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. 4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. 6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. 9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which [were] in the day [that] the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built. 10 For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither [was there any] peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
In chapter 7 a question was asked whether the Jews should continue to observe certain fast days that were constituted in the captivity now that a certain number of them had returned to Jerusalem with the permission of king Cyrus. Chapter 8 is a protracted answer from the Lord regarding these things.
The Lord first speaks to Zecheriah about the fact that He is jealous for Zion (which was in old time the government district in Jerusalem where the kings of the line of David built their palaces and buried their dead). In other words, God is jealous for the governance of His people. For us this speaks of the heart of God being desirous to sit on the throne of our own lives. When we read of Jerusalem and of Zion, we not only apply it to historical Jerusalem which is located in the Middle East but also to ourselves generally and to the church specifically, according to the writer of the book of Hebrews:
[Heb 12:22-23 KJV] 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
This is a teaching very much neglected in the church today. The question must be asked when you read passages such as Zecheriah 8, does this apply spiritually to the church or naturally to Jerusalem in Judea? The answer is – yes! Colossians 2:17 and other scriptures teach us that those things designated under the law are the shadow of which those things in Christ are the substance. Jesus taught over and over that the community of the redeemed were a city set on a hill. Is this city Rome? No, only Jerusalem can serve as a type and shadow of the church. It is important to understand how to look at Jerusalem from both a natural and a spiritual perspective. In the natural, Jerusalem is a shadow of which the church is the substance. What is Jerusalem spiritually speaking? Rev. 1:8 states the following:
[Rev 11:8 NKJV] 8 And their dead bodies [will lie] in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
We see therefore, it is necessary to look at natural Jerusalem from a spiritual perspective, realizing that it represents a template of the dealings of God not only with natural Judaism, but with regard to us as well in terms of our corporeality as a spiritual community, a matter which cannot be neglected, or marginalized in favor of a strictly individual faith without connection to something larger than ourselves, i.e. the Church. God is a jealous God. He is jealous for the city of Jerusalem and He is jealous for the governance of His Church.
Verse 3 tells us that Jerusalem will be called a city of truth. What truth are we talking about? Jesus stated the following:
[Jhn 14:6 NKJV] 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
For us the truth is not primarily doctrinal in nature. That is not to say that doctrine does not have its place. Doctrine can be true, but for the believer it cannot be “truth”. Our “truth” is a person, His name is Jesus. What philosophers and theologians insist in terms of truth and religious verities only constitute them the Pharisees and Sadducees of our day. We will not be seduced by the winds of doctrine, or the doctrines of man. Our Truth is a person, His name is Jesus, and it is His name that is ever affixed to the city of Jerusalem, and though He was crucified there – He yet reigns as her king. The Jews, Muslims and Christians all venerate the city of Jerusalem. For us we venerate the city of Jerusalem because there it was our savior bled and died. Muslims venerate it as a place where their prophet Mohammed allegedly ascended, not having suffered at all. Do you see the difference? We serve a suffering savior having given His life a ransom for men, while Islam serves a demagogue, a man glorified by error and presumption, casting a shadow over the very city that our Lord claims for Himself.
11 But now I [will] not [be] unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 For the seed [shall be] prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these [things]. 13 And it shall come to pass, [that] as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, [but] let your hands be strong. 14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: 15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. 16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the LORD. 18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying, 19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth [month], and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace. 20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; [It shall] yet [come to pass], that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one [city] shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard [that] God [is] with you.
Verse 11 declares that there will come a day the Father will assert His claim over the city of Jerusalem, and His people for good and not for evil. Verse 12 declares that God’s future chosen for His seed is that they will be characterized by prosperity. Who are the seed that shall be called prosperous? Does this only apply to natural Israel, or the Jews as a people? If you are a believer in the canon of the New Testament you must consider the following verses:
In the book of Romans, Paul states unequivocally who is a Jew and who is not a Jew from a spiritual perspective, in the light of the work of the Cross:
[Rom 2:28-29 NKJV] 28 For he is not a Jew who [is one] outwardly, nor [is] circumcision that which [is] outward in the flesh; 29 but [he is] a Jew who [is one] inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise [is] not from men but from God.
In Galatians, Paul further elaborates on the grafting in of those who accept Christ as rightful heirs in Christ of the promises of Abraham:
[Gal 3:16, 26, 29 NKJV] 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. … 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. … 29 And if you [are] Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In the light of these passages, we gain a new perspective on Zech. 8:11 as apply not just to natural Israel, or Judaism, but to ourselves as believers in Jesus. We would not prevent them, from receiving whatever is their inheritance as natural Jews, but they cannot disinherit us either, by claiming that a specific scripture applies not to the believer in Christ but only to themselves. This is an emphasis that has been deeply distorted by injudicious scholars who losing respect for those they were teaching, oversimplified these truths to the point of misleading altogether believers undisciplined in studying their own bibles.
In verse 13 Zecheriah calls upon the leaders of the returnees from Babylon to be strong not only to build the foundation, but to build on the foundation that has now been laid, to complete the work of restoring the temple. This speaks to us of the work of faith as well. Christians believe in the foundation that was laid by Jesus and the early apostles. It is time to believe for the rubble of religious trivialities and confusion to be cleared off that foundation and a work to be finished of establishing God’s Spiritual Temple the church upon the earth. The early fathers believed that just as we had 12 founding apostles that there would be in our day, the latter day 12 finishing apostles who would complete the work that the first apostles began in their day.
The responsibility for us, in response to the generous and merciful heart of God is to follow the mandates of Zecheriah 8:16-17:
- Speak truth to our neighbor. Who is our truth? Jesus is the trust we are to speak to those around us.
Execute the judgment of truth and peace in our gates. What is the judgment of Truth? It is the finished work of Calvary. What is our peace? Jesus is our peace.
Let none imagine evil against His neighbor, and make no false oaths.
As far as the fasting questions from chapter 7, the answer of the Lord is that their fasting days would be turned to days of rejoicing and cheerfulness. Why? Because the blessing would rest upon them so much so (v. 21) that the inhabitants of others cities would seek out the people of God because they will see the favor that we walk in and the blessing that we enjoy from the hand of God Himself, so much so that they will lay hold upon those who are of the people of God and go with us for they have heard that God is with us.
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