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Archive for the category “apostle”

What Does a Call Look Like?

I’ve been talking to several people over the past couple of week about that term “calling.” Just what does a “call” look like?

In baseball, they have the “call to the bullpen” where the old pitcher comes out and a new pitcher comes in to take over the rest of the game.

Then there is another way to use the word:

“My name is Zebediah, but you can call me Zeb.”

In that case, the person wants you to call them by a certain title or nickname.

Then you have the doctor version of it. “I am on call.”

And there are multiple other uses of the word…

“’Should I call the men from up on the hill?’ he called out.”

But what about in Christianity? Let’s look at a couple verses and determine what this word actually means and if it is even biblical to say “I have a calling to go into the ministry.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Romans 11:29 – For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

2 Peter 1:10 – Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

That is a lot to digest!

Let’s unpack each of these verses and throw in some of the church history as well.

To begin, the general call in the Bible is to a live with Christ. That is the first and foremost call in the Bible.

Romans 1:5-6 – through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ

Belonging to and in Christ is a much deeper calling than anything else in there. When one starts to discern a calling from a Christian standpoint, we need to make sure they have first a restored relationship with God and with His people.

This means that the primary call of the Christian is to respond to and act upon the call to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world.

This means that whatever work we choose must be integrated with the participation with Christ Himself. We could be a plumber, but as a plumber, we can work for the Kingdom by repairing relationships, showing justice, acting with mercy and grace and other components of the kingdom.

Next, God has given us a call to work. God created us to work. It started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. In Exodus, we are told that we are to work for 6 days and then rest. So you could say that it goes beyond calling, we are created to work. In the very beginning the call to basically be a farmer was the highest calling there was other than unity with God (until Eve came along that is).

Next, we are called to, well, life. Our work is not merely the job from which we get a paycheck. We raise families, have a spouse, and have friends.

Eve came along and Adam was then so smitten with her that he gave his time and attention to her as well as working his job in the Garden. This means we should balance our paid work and personal work with our families and friends.

So, to this point, we know that we are called to belong to Christ. We are created to work. And we are called to have a full life, filled with family and friends.

Knowing what kind of work you do is probably not that high on God’s list of things that are of critical importance.

But let’s look at whether God calls us to particular work.

We do know it does happen. God has called several people in the Bible to specific work. He called prophets. He called Noah to build an ark. He called Moses and Aaron to their roles. Many of the political leaders we see in the Bible, God elevated them to their roles. Even though the word “call” is not used here, there is no mistaking that God called those people to their roles.

I have read several commentaries that said that God called very few people in the Bible. And, I guess He didn’t call a lot of people numerically. But if you take that as a percentage of the people mentioned in the Bible, it is actually pretty high. And if you include the people we don’t get to “meet,” then that is a very high number. We don’t see all the people who went on to plant churches  in the New Testament or all of the Israelites whose sole job it was to protect the Ark of the Covenant.

But were many of these calls a direct “voice from heaven” moment or were they more subtle, such as being attuned to the heart of God through Scripture and meditation? There are several ways to discern where God wants to place you as far as a career goes.

First, we need to look at the needs of the world. We are told in Scripture that we should support ourselves and our families.

1 Timothy 5:8 – But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Titus 3:14 – Let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.

We also are expected to meet the needs of those who are not part of our family.

Proverbs 14:21 – Happy are those who are kind to the poor.

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.

Or what about working to be productive in society? That is Scriptural as well.

Jeremiah 29:5-7 – Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Next, God gives us each talents and gifts. We should use those gifts not only for the edification of the body of believers, but for the society as a whole.

Isaiah 28:24-26 – Do those who plow for sowing plow continually? Do they continually open and harrow their ground? When they have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For they are well instructed; their God teaches them.

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

This is where knowing what you are good at and what spiritual gifts the Lord has given is important. This happens by talking to those closest to you, realizing your talents and spiritual gifts tests.

For example, I know that God has given me the ability to take large tasks and get them accomplished. I have managerial skills and leadership ability. I also have the ability to preach and to teach. That is what has helped me to confirm my calling into ministry. But similar skill set could be used to be a training manager for a company or a military commander.

Finally, what has God given you as your desires? Your fulfillment of purpose is vitally important to God.

Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

John 16:24 – Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Because of sin, however, our desires can get all screwed up. Doing what makes us happiest will not always bring the greatest fulfillment. God is looking out for our fulfillment of purpose, not mere happiness that comes and goes with the circumstances.

Does this mean that being “called” into the ministry is a higher calling? Around the Middle Ages, becoming a monk or a nun was considered a higher calling. Even to this day, we still see that played out. I have been fairly consistent in believing that while I welcome the benefits that the government affords those in ministry, they further create a divide into calling versus higher calling, and that is a mentality that needs to stop.

But fact of the matter remains, God does call people into vocational ministry.

Exodus 28:1 – Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests — Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

Mark 1:16-17 – As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

Acts 13:2,5 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ….When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them.

Regardless, Christians are called, yes called, to conduct themselves to the full-time service of Christ.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.

But, Fred, what about 1 Timothy calling out those who are elder or pastor as it actually being a higher calling?

1 Timothy 5:17-18 – Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.”

This should be translated more in line with pay rather than about comparing their work with other peoples’ work. The true comparison in this passage is about pastors who rule well versus those who don’t instead of pastors versus the rest of the world.

Whew….That was a lot. But I believe this will give some insight, mostly to myself, about the word calling and what it is to the Christian.

Wait

Creator of earth & heaven, why am I filled with question

Defeated in my spirit. One empty man, desiring Your plan

Proverbs 21:5 – The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Ministry is such a fickle calling. The majority of Christians, in America at least, desire to have their ears tickled rather than salt poured on their wounds. We have trained ourselves to think that God’s blessings come only when we get what we want.

Now the inside of me is empty, the ones I have trusted have left me

But still I’m not forsaken, led by the hand of the Son of Man

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Your kingdom is so much bigger than what we make it out to be. Your kingdom is the present perfect tense! It is and it is yet to come. You have directed my path every step of the way ever since I called out to You.

My life has not been an easy one. Yep, it was, for 38 years. I grew up in a pretty stable family. Before I came along, though, I know both my mom and my dad, before meeting each other, had tough lives. It is one of the big things that I respect about them.

But for 38 years, I was fairly insulated from pain.

The past 12 years have been hard. And I am not saying that lightly. I mean it feels like someone has placed a shackle around my feet, attached a large boulder to it and told me to go climb Mt. Everest.

In 2011 I not only committed my work to the Lord, but I committed to work FOR the Lord. So plans were put in place to make that happen.

2011 is when the calling and my life truly intersected.

And so I will wait

And though my heart aches

Nothing can cause me to ever turn away

There is so much pain in this world that my heart wants to break

Proverbs 24:27 – Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

I prepared my work and got everything ready. By 2016 I started building the house that You asked me to build, preparing to go into vocational ministry.

You called me, Lord. You called me to intersect with those whose lives were without purpose, like mine was for 38 years. You called me to reach into the mire of peoples’ lives and show them that You are their one and only way to salvation.

2018 you blessed that day in early December. The house was now built.

But until You choose to deliver me, I choose to wait

Proverbs 24:3-4 – By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Lately, that house has been rocked. Figurative earthquakes have shaken the foundations. Figurative floods have destroyed some of the beautiful treasures inside the house. As the figurative house ages, I am learning that the equipment needs to be upgraded. I still need to place weed killer down so the crabgrass doesn’t break up through the driveway. I need to maintain the house you helped me build.

So that is my prayer today.

How can I maintain the house You helped me build?

What does that look like?

Last night I stood outside my house and simply looked at it. How do I know what needs to be replaced, upgraded, and repaired?

Short answer is that I typically stumble across it. Yes, there are reminders that I have in my phone to replace filters and I know that during the summer I will need to cut the grass weekly. But I won’t know the shower cartridge has a problem until there is a leak. And I won’t know a light is bad until it burns out.

The same can be said for this spiritual house I am in. There are things that I do daily to maintain the house. I read Your Word. I spend time in prayer. I study to show myself approved by You.

But there are areas that I won’t know are wearing out until they break.

Proverbs 27:23 – Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds

But hopefully, through study of the Word and prayer, I can learn to see the conditions of the house before too much begins to fail.

I am invisible…to myself

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This past week I was able to unplug, unwind, and just enjoy some time alone. Throughout the week, while I spent the majority of my time alone in my hotel room, I did venture out occasionally. While out there, I realized that there is a very big difference between myself, and the culture that I have grown up in, and other cultures that are present right here in my own backyard.

Our behaviors are driven by the cultures and norms that we grew up with. When we enter areas or get into groups that have norms that we don’t understand, we tend to interpret those words and actions through the lens of our own culture. The problem with that is that it can lead to misinterpretation of the culture and damaged relationships.

I would like to share an example of this from a business perspective, but understand that this can be seen across countless other “cultural” norms other than business.

In American business, we tend to expect people to say what they mean and take their word at face value. Unfortunately, that cultural norm doesn’t translate across all cultures. If an American manager assumes an Asian counterpart will understand words the same way, that American manager could be in for a rude awakening.

The American manager looked at his Asian counterpart and asked if he understood on how to move forward with a project. The Asian coworker said he understood and agreed with the American coworker on how to move forward. A few months later, however, the American manager realized that his Asian counterpart didn’t agree at all and the project had never moved forward.

In many Asian cultures, harmony is highly valued. It is rude and inappropriate to disagree with people face to face and even more so in the presence of others, such as in a meeting. So typically, an Asian person may nod and say “yes” but it simple acknowledgement that they understood what you said, not necessarily agreement with what you propose.

Many times, the only way to deduce whether someone Asian agrees or disagrees with you is by watching their nonverbal cues. Do they have a pained look on their face as they nod? Don’t expect them to agree with you.

A key takeaway from this is that the American manager should have scheduled a one-on-one meeting with his Asian counterpart and been more aware of his body language. This would have helped him understand that cultural differences between him and his counterpart.

That was only an example taken from a business perspective.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

But this past week has been very eye-opening to me. Mostly from a perspective of Caucasian versus African-American.

I’ve never subscribed to the political norms of the day. As a Christian, I am supposed to be right-wing, conservative, Republican. I am supposed to be wearing something preppy (I know, a throwback to the 80s) and focused on building my bank account instead of healing the world.

But that isn’t me. I am NOT a Republican (I am also NOT a Democrat). I am not totally conservative. I hold to some traditional conservative values (I am pro-life, for example). But I also hold some traditionally liberal values (I think we should take care of the immigrants in our country, for example).

I base my Christianity from the Bible, not from commentaries or political pundits.  I do not ascribe to political Christianity. We don’t live in a post-Christian culture. We have never lived in a Christian culture. Yes, many of our laws are based from the Bible, but we were never a Christian nation. At best, we are a pre-Christian nation.

But, what I realized this week is that even though I don’t ascribe to many of those cultural norms, they are ingrained in my psyche and my actions.

For so long, I held to the fact that I didn’t need to wear a mask. I thought of it politically. Why did I have to do something that various people (both Democrat & Republican) don’t have to do? On the Democratic side, why does Rep. Lewis get a huge funeral attended by hundreds while it is illegal for the average person to get a funeral for their mom or dad. As for the Republicans, why do I have to have my rights trampled on so I can’t meet at church while I can fill up a Walmart or Home Depot with tons of people who barely know how to wear a mask?

I still don’t fear this virus. I have no reason to. I have a God who is bigger than this virus. But what I need to realize is that my culture, the one I ascribe to, is not being targeted. It is not in jeopardy. I can still worship. I can still praise God publicly. I can still have friends over to my house to talk about the Bible openly. And we can, technically, still have church, even if you are in a state like California where they have banned inside services and small groups in houses (they can still meet outside, whether at their houses or at their churches).

Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

But this week….

I went away to rejuvenate. After doing ministry through this pandemic the past 4-5 months, I realized that I was a little burned out. The sheep have become more in need during this time and we are trying to reach a community for the Gospel that is not just dying spiritually, but now could very well be sick and dying physically!

I went about 3 hours away to southwest VA. In this area there were a lot of people vacationing. There were Caucasian, Asian, and African-American from what I saw.

All of the stores in the area are required to have a sign on their doors that say “MASKS REQUIRED.”

But that didn’t stop people from not following it.

And it wasn’t a cross-section of each population that was not wearing it. It was a single culture that wasn’t wearing masks…mine.

The Asian and African-American people were wearing the masks. Almost 100% of people of those ethnicities were in masks. But the Caucasians were not wearing masks well or at all!

My wife and I met with a salesperson while down there who spits while he talks. He was not masked as he tried to sell us on something. He had spit coming out of his mouth and landing on the table in front of him.

Then, I asked a few people why they weren’t wearing masks in the places they worked and they said, for example:

“I can’t breathe in them” (that was the most common answer…lame excuse! I have asthma and can breathe perfectly through the mask)

 

“I am not wearing a mask, it violates my rights.”

 

“Masks don’t save lives. The studies are all lying to us.”

 

Then, on Thursday, I went to a convenience store. Inside were 3 Caucasian people working and probably about 10-12 Caucasians buying stuff. Absolutely none of them (except me) had a mask on! Also in there were 7-8 African-Americans. They were all masked up.

So I asked them why they were wearing masks. Here are a couple of their responses:

“It is my duty to protect others.”

 

“The virus affects the black population more than the white population.”

 

“Masks work to keep us all safe.”

 

We can learn from so many people from all cultures and ethnicities. But ultimately, what does the Bible say about this?

My wife and I were interviewed om Saturday for a YouTube video that a couple of missionaries we support in Peru were putting together. During the interview, Mimi brought up a verse that I have always enjoyed to share with others, but never put a lot of thought into it.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Now re-read those answers from the people above and see if they fit within Philippians 2:3 context.

So I need to realize that my own culture…even the one I like to say I don’t ascribe to…is invisible to me and I need to start taking Philippians 2:3 as more than just good words of advice to share with others and let it be something that leads my actions and words.

Judgment, Trial, or Consequence?

Yesterday when I wrote about my thoughts, I said that I was thinking this COVID thing was judgment from God rather than a trial we are going through.

When I wrote it, I was actually surprised how easily those words came from my hands. Today, after prayer and thought, I am not so sure.  Do I still believe it could be judgment from God? Yep. Am I convinced of it? Not so much.

Here is why.

I decided to take a vacation. The clamors of the world were so loud over the past 5 months that I needed to disappear and get some alone time with God. I left Friday for vacation, heading into the mountainous areas of southwest VA. Mimi joined me for a couple of days and we tooled around the area looking at antiques and flowers and things, but she left Sunday afternoon and I stayed behind to get some alone time with God.

Yesterday, when I woke up, I started thinking on judgments in the Bible and what they looked like. I let my emotions lead my typing as I posted yesterday.

But then I spent much of the day reading, studying the Bible, and reviewing those judgments in there as well as other times people called things judgment that were not.

And now I am not so sure.

Looking at specific times in the Bible that could be used as a barometer for this being judgment, I started in the New Testament.

Acts 12:23 – Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

I know, not necessarily the use of a disease, but a judgment nonetheless and, bonus, it has worms eating a guy! But God does use death as a judgment. This one, was more personal than corporate.

Then you have this…

John 5:14 – Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Jesus is clearly telling someone to not sin anymore so that nothing else happens to him. But then I got to praying about this. Is this judgment or consequence? This guy was paralyzed 38 years prior. Who knows if it was from his sin or if he simply tripped and became paralyzed. We need more to the story to determine if it is truly judgment that Jesus is talking about here or if it consequence.

What about this one…

1 Corinthians 11:30 – That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

This one is clearly a judgment. Jesus is doing communion with His disciples and He tells them that if you take communion without discerning the body is eating and drinking judgment on themselves. Then He goes on to tell them that this is why many have died or are weak or sick.

Clearly a judgment here.

And this is a judgment specifically for people who are followers of Christ!

How about in the Old Testament?

Well, we have Job. His friends told him that he was being judged by God. God called Job’s friends wicked and stupid for saying that, though.

You would think that if this was judgment, there would be no confusion about whether it is or isn’t. God is not a God of confusion but of clarity.

One more verse to make a point is in Luke 13….

Luke 13:4-5 – Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

A tower fell in Jerusalem and the people wanted to know if it was judgment on them. Jesus specifically tells them it was not.

So now I am left wondering. Is this judgment? Is it a trial? Is it a consequence? I tend to lean more (today) on the consequence than anything. We are acting foolishly here in America, and especially in our churches, and we are not heeding the sound advice of the experts in their fields and doing what we please. There has to be a consequence that follows that course of action.

Ultimately, though, it is God who is in control. And, one day, this will all be wiped away as we enter rest with Him.

Zechariah 13 Commentary

The last few verses of chapter 12 showed us the sadness and repentance of God’s people over “piercing Him.” This brought His people grace. As chapter 13 opens, we see the continuation of the effects of that repentance as we move from grace into forgiveness and then justification.

Zechariah 13:1 – “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

This chapter opens as learn that what God is about to do is both for the royal line of the house of David and for the general inhabitant of Jerusalem.

The fountain that the prophet talks about here is something that we see throughout all of Scripture. Ezekiel 36:25 comes to mind. God tells His people that He will “sprinkle them clean” from their sin.

It starts by telling us “On that day….” The day that the prophet is speaking of is the day, as we saw before, that God’s people are reborn.

Zechariah 13:2 – “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.

This is a literal verse. God will remove the idols and unclean spirits from the land. Idolatry was always something that led Israel astray. But now God will completely cut out the idols.

Zechariah 13:3 – And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.

Imagine being a preacher in the final days and misrepresenting the truth. The truth of God will be even more significant than the bond of parents with their children. It will be so important to represent the truth of God that if someone prophesies falsely, their own parents will pierce their side.

Zechariah 13:4 – “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive,

These prophets will be so fearful that they will not dress as a prophet. In the Old Testament, the prophets were typically dressed in a certain way. The way a prophet dressed was an outward symbol of what the prophet was choosing to live. They chose to live a life that abstained from worldly pleasures and to grieve for God’s people.

But this verse shows that those who prophecy will be scared of the ridicule of man. First, in the verse before, a false prophet would be killed by his family. Second, those who falsely prophecy for their own gain would become ashamed of their craft.

Zechariah 13:5 – but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’

The false prophet, ashamed, will say he is not a prophet but a farm hand.

Zechariah 13:6 – And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’

False prophets in Zechariah’s day would injure themselves for their pagan rites. Check out Leviticus 19:28, Deuteronomy 14:1, 1 Kings 18 or Jeremiah 16 and 48. In Ahab’s court, for example, there were false prophets who would prophesy in the name of God. Those same priests, however, would also cut themselves with knives as they worshiped the Baals.

The false prophets would try to explain away their injuries by saying they received them at their friends’ places.

Zechariah 13:7 – “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.

The sword is a symbol of judgment. In Romans 13:4, for example, it is a power that God gives to human judges and government.

This verse goes on with much more intriguing symbolism, though. The shepherd that is “standing next to me” is the Good Shepherd. This is the death that was part of God’s design to save humanity. This fits with Isaiah 53:10 in which Zechariah agrees with Isaiah that God ordained Christ’s suffering.

In Matthew 26:31, Jesus quoted this verse when He referenced the scattering of His disciples after His arrest and punishment.

Zechariah 13:8 – In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.

Only part of God’s people will remain faithful to God until the end. These will be the ones that will be the remnant of the sheep and goats. Unfortunately this tells us that 2/3 of the world will turn away from God and only a third will be faithful.

Zechariah 13:9 – And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

The third that remains faithful will be tested and go through tribulation. Through the tribulation the relationship will be solidified. Throughout all history, the covenant relationship between God and His people has been challenged, but God has always remained faithful to bring His people back to Him.

Zechariah 12 Commentary

It has been a while since I have posted anything on here. The virus has kept me extremely busy and I’ve spent my time focusing on being the hands and feet rather than studying the Word of God. But I’ve been granted some brief downtime and that is giving me the opportunity to exegete Zechariah 12, which is a very timely chapter based on this week being Easter.

If you are looking for a church service this weekend, our church would be more than happy to have you “join” in livestream. Go to fcbc.church to watch. We are available for watching on the following:

Good Friday at 7 PM, 4/10

Sunday Sunrise at 6:30 AM, 4/12

Sunday at 10:30 PM, 4/12

As we finish out the book of Zechariah, the final 3 chapters deal with the final oracle, or burden, that Zechariah presents. This book ends in hope as we see, over these last 3 chapters, the restoration of God’s people.

Zechariah 12:1 – The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:

This chapter begins with an explanation that God created the heavens, the earth and man. This is being explained to show that “He who has started a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

Some versions call this a burden, not an oracle. This burden shows that there will be some significantly bad happening before the restoration of God’s people.

Zechariah 12:2 – “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah.

Whenever God says he is about to make a “cup” of something, you know God is about to bring wrath (Isaiah and Jeremiah specifically show this). The cup of staggering, or trembling as other translations have, shows that God is going to make Jerusalem something that they will covet and, yet, it will be as they are intoxicated with it.

The Muslim world desires Jerusalem. It is the third holiest of cities in the Muslim world. It is where the Dome of the Rock is. But Jerusalem will remain protected by God.

Zechariah 12:3 – On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.

I can’t help but think about the first question I was asked when I started seminary about 10 years ago: If God is all powerful, can He create a rock that He cannot lift. While that question is circular in nature and meant to trick you into saying something you may not believe, God is pretty clear on the stone that Jerusalem will become.

This stone will be heavy. Not only can we not lift it, but anyone that tries will hurt themselves. Some translations say “all who try to lift it will be cut to pieces.” This shows that God’s hand is on Jerusalem and that anyone that comes against them will be injured.

And who wants to come against Jerusalem? The next sentence tells us that all the nations of the earth seek to destroy it.

Zechariah 12:4 – On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.

Horses are symbols of strength and power. In Deuteronomy 28 we find that the curses that were for Israel are now curses that will be put on Israel’s enemies.

God is telling us that He is looking out for His people.

Zechariah 12:5 – Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’

This is the moment that God’s people realize that He has always been for them. They see that their power comes from their God, not themselves.

Zechariah 12:6 – “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.

God is showing us the power that He will give to His people. This power comes through God’s glory as we will see in the next verse.

Zechariah 12:7 – “And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah.

It is interesting that God is saving the “tents of Judah first.” This means that God is not starting with the fortified city. He is starting with the countryside. This is being done to show God’s glory.

Zechariah 12:8 – On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them.

1 Samuel 18 tells us that David was the greatest soldier in Israel’s history. The weakest person in Jerusalem will become like David.

And then the entire house of David will find that they have been given a supernatural, superhuman strength.

This verse makes me think of 1 Corinthians 1:25. Especially as I write this under a stay-at-home order from the government because of the virus that is plaguing the world. As a full-time ministry worker who is seen as non-essential by our government, I find that I have had to defy the orders on occasion in order to see people fed, to get groceries for people who have lost their income, or to simply take time praying with people, placing my arms around them or hands on them. In worldly terms, this is all foolish. But God’s foolishness is wiser than men.

Zechariah 12:9 – And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

This could be the battle of Armageddon. You see throughout the Bible a lot of “seek to” phrases. In human terms, this is something that is attempted to be done but is always bent under the will of God. With God, when He seeks to do something, all His promises are “yes and amen.”

Zechariah 12:10 –  “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

I love this verse! This verse is the story of anyone’s life who has converted to Christ. When Christ came the first time, His people didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah and they pierced Him. This time, they see the hurt they have caused Him and mourn and weep for Him.

Think of Saul on the Damascus road. This is the same effect that realization has on a person.

Zechariah 12:11 – On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

King Josiah was killed in Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. It was the death of Josiah that was the last straw before Judah had lost hope.

Zechariah 12:12 – The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;

Verses 12 through 14 show the impact on both the royal (house of David & Nathan) and priestly (house of Levi and Shimei). In verse 12 we see the entire land mourning. Not just the seats of power, but all of God’s people.

Men and women will mourn separately as is the tradition of the Jews in public worship.

Zechariah 12:13 – the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves;

Both the royal and priestly lines are the ones leading the mourning. In the past, both lines were corrupted and led Israel in evil deeds. They will be leading the nation in repentance.

Zechariah 12:14 – and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.

The entire nation will be reborn in a single moment. Think of Isaiah 66:8. They will all be mourning separately, overcome by the grief of killing of the Messiah the first time.

While Jews are predominantly discussed here, the Gentile can also take heed. We all share the guilt of the crucifixion. We also shall share in the salvation that comes in repentance.

Zechariah 11 Commentary

Zechariah 11:1 – Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars!

The question is whether this is showing us a past historical event (the Babylonian invasion) or a future prophecy. Based on the rest of this book, I would venture that this is a future prophecy that is predicting the Roman moves against Judea.

The area of the mountain passes between Lebanon and Israel are called the “doors of Lebanon.”

This chapter is setting up the events that will lead to God’s people rejecting the Messiah when He does come.


Zechariah 11:2 – Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled!
Lebanon’s strength was in her cedars. Throughout the Bible we see the strength of the “cedars of Lebanon.” They were a sought after commodity. This could be talking about an economic crash. If the strong cedars, which were a top trading commodity were ruined, how much more will the lesser commodities be ruined.

But I think this goes a beyond that in that the cedars show the strength of Lebanon. This is showing that strength being destroyed.

Zechariah 11:3 – The sound of the wail of the shepherds, for their glory is ruined! The sound of the roar of the lions, for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

This is a powerful verse that describes the leaders of God’s people being brought down. The wail of the shepherds means that the Jewish leaders will be ruined. Their glory will be ruined. Look at Mark 13:1, as the disciples are talking to Christ and they say that the stones and buildings are beautiful. Jesus tells His disciples that those stones will be destroyed.

Everyone will mourn because of the rejection of the Christ.

Zechariah 11:4 – Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter.

Zechariah moves into the explanation of how this destruction is to come about.

Different translations have different words for what the shepherd is to do to the flock. Some say to pasture them. Others say to feed them. Some say to take care of them. Others simply say to shepherd them.  Feeding, or caring for the sheep who are doomed to slaughter, is to provide them God’s Word. This means that they have no excuse of ignorance when the Messiah does come.

Acts 20:28 shows this specifically.

The more we go through this prophecy, the more we will see that Zechariah seems like he is acting this prophecy out. I don’t believe he is simply reciting it. I believe there are actions that go along with it.

Zechariah 11:5 – Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them.

Some translations of this verse say “hold themselves not guilty” instead of “go unpunished.” The adversaries of God’s people don’t feel guilt in the destruction of them. And God allowed this to happen.

As for “those who sell them,” God is talking about the rulers of Judah. Their selfishness basically sold their people to Rome. Look at verses such as John 11:48-50.

God even addresses those who sold His sheep to Rome and became rich. Look at Luke 16:14. The Pharisees missed the Messiah because they were lovers of money. The leaders have no pity on them.

Zechariah 11:6 – For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”

God is removing is pity on His people, which means he is going to deliver them into the hands of the Romans. This is a little bit of a foreshadowing of things to come when the Roman rulers, such as Vespasian.

Zechariah 11:7 – So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep.

A shepherd in ancient Israel would use two staves to lead their flock. One staff would be used to protect the sheep from danger while the other would be used to direct the flock. The names are Favor and Union (in some translations, “Beauty and Bands”). Beauty is God’s favor on His people while Bands is the reunification of Israel and Judah (see verse 14 later)

The flock doomed to be slaughtered are those whom Jesus came for (see Matthew 11:5). Some translations go so far as to say “the poor of the flock.”

Zechariah 11:8 – In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me.

This is a pretty hard passage to understand. Who are the “three shepherds?” This is definitely in a prophetic voice, so I would have to think that there is something much more than shepherds being named aside the Good Shepherd.

I tend to like Dr. James Boice’s view that the three shepherds are most likely the roles of prophet, priest and king, which were taken away after the Roman conquest. These roles have never been restored as they are now fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 11:9 – So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.”

In chapter 7 we saw that God would not listen to His people. This was a pretty intense form of punishment. Now, God is telling them He will not be their shepherd.

They rejected the Good Shepherd and ended up in occupation and famine.

Zechariah 11:10 – And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples.

God is setting aside His providential care for His people. The covenant that He is speaking of here is from Deuteronomy 28:1-14. This paved the way for Rome to invade and conquer.

Zechariah 11:11 – So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord.

God’s people knew the covenant had been annulled. God has defended His people, but now they were about to become food for, as the Bible calls, the “wild beasts” of the Gentile world.

Zechariah 11:12 – Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.

Thirty pieces of silver is used a lot in Scripture. In the book of Exodus, it is the price given to a master whose slave was gored by oxen. A good slave was worth twice that amount. This meant that the final slap in the face would be that Jesus’ life was worth thirty pieces of silver, making Jesus worth no more than a common slave.

Zechariah 11:13 – Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.

The thirty pieces of silver was thrown into the house of the Lord. This is a prophecy that was fulfilled when Judas, filled with the guilt of condemning Jesus, threw the silver on the floor of the temple and the priests used it to purchase a field from a potter.

Zechariah 11:14 – Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

The breaking of the first staff in verse 10 symbolizes the rejection of God’s people by the Good Shepherd. The breaking of this staff is showing the breakup of Israel and Judah, most likely under Roman rule.

In reading Roman historian Josephus, he said that things got so bad after the Romans conquered that Jew fought against Jew as severely as the Romans had beaten them.

Zechariah 11:15 – Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd.

It is at this point that Zechariah is to play the role of a “foolish shepherd.” This entire chapter is filled with dramatic moments that seemed to be acted out by Zechariah.

Zechariah 11:16 – For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.

These last few verses show both the first century choices and the final choice of the Antichrist. This shepherd uses his staff to beat the sheep.

God is allowing this shepherd to rise up because of the rejection by His people for the Good Shepherd. If we look at some prophetic verses, we see that this is exactly what the Antichrist will do.

Check out both Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15-22.

Another interesting thing to note is that God is raising this leader up. Many times in history we hear about a country who believes that God has sent a leader to them. He may very well have done so, but just not in the manner in which the country believes. The leader that God may be raising up could be a leader that will be a foolish shepherd instead of one who points us to the Good Shepherd.

Zechariah 11:17 – “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!”

This verse is filled with verses from all around Scripture. From Daniel 7-8 and 24 to 2 Thessalonians 2 to Revelation 19-20, we see that the worthless shepherd will have his arm and right eye taken away from him. The arm is seen as a symbol of power while the eye is a symbol of intelligence.

Revelation 13 tells us that the Antichrist will survive a severe hit.

Revelation 13:12-14 – It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

Zechariah 10 Commentary

This is a continuation of the last few verses of chapter 9. The blessings for Israel is the topic of this chapter.

Zechariah 10:1 – Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field.

Zechariah is telling the people of Israel to request God’s favor. While the rain will come in what we consider the later spring, as is shown in Isaiah 35, the request they are making is both physical and spiritual in nature, as is seen in Hosea 6.

Think of the verse that says, “ask and you shall receive.” This is talking about both the promised rain that comes from obedience, but it also talks about the latter rains of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The day of Pentecost.


Zechariah 10:2 – For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

I am preparing a sermon on Matthew 9:35-38 and this reminds me a lot of those verses. Jesus had compassion on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd. The people of God have been left like sheep without a shepherd because of their confidence in the “household gods,” the diviners and the false dreams.

Many times with ancient Israel we saw them listen to the oracles, or the Teraphim. These were typically heathen oracles, or diviners, or prophets. The Israelites sole hope was in God alone.

Just like today, as Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, our sole hope is in Christ alone.

Zechariah 10:3 – “My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his majestic steed in battle.

The anger of the Lord will be against the foreign and heathen rulers against Israel. And God’s flock, His sheep, is Israel, and He will make them not just like His sheep, but as a horse for war!

This is running parallel to Ezekiel 34where God says what He will do to the shepherds that hurt His sheep. Look at Ezekiel 34:23. God will set up a shepherd over them. The book of Ezekiel was written somewhere around 600 years before Christ. It was written about 80-90 years before Zechariah.

The shepherd that Ezekiel is mentioning is THE Shepherd, the Messiah.


Zechariah 10:4 – From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler—all of them together.

We immediately see the reference to Christ in the cornerstone. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Kingdom of God.

The tent peg, also translated as “nail” in some texts, is what Israel will hang all their hopes on. This cornerstone will be the sole hope for God’s people.

The battle bow and the mention of rulers show the idea of Revelation 19. Jesus shall be the one who places all the battles and all the rulers in place.


Zechariah 10:5 – They shall be like mighty men in battle, trampling the foe in the mud of the streets; they shall fight because the Lord is with them, and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.

The first thing we notice is that the Lord is with them. The mighty men are typically foot soldiers. These foot soldiers are seen taking out the cavalry, which is a feat unto itself. God’s armies will take out even the strongest of armies.

Zechariah 10:6 – “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.

Jeremiah 32 tells us that God will reunite the northern and southern kingdoms. Zechariah reinforces that statement here by saying that God will strengthen Judah and save the house of Joseph.

God reiterates His commitment to his covenant. He is bringing them back together to show His faithfulness to His promises.

Even in the New Testament, Peter reinforces this message in the book of Acts when he tells the people they are still able to receive the promise because of the Abrahamic covenant.


Zechariah 10:7 – Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord.

The reuniting of the northern and southern kingdoms will be a joyous day and people will seem like they are drunk in the way they are celebrating it. This particular verse is speaking of the Northern kingdom. They went into captivity over 130 years before the southern kingdom.

The rest of this chapter focuses on the combined kingdoms of north and south. There will not be any more differentiation between them.

Zechariah 10:8 – “I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before.

God is calling for His people and, as the Abrahamic covenant specified, they will have the numbers they did before.
Zechariah 10:9 – Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return.

God has placed His people all around the world. This is part of His plan to save people from all tribes and nations. The Word of God brings people to Him because of those He has scattered.


Zechariah 10:10 – I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them.

All of the lands that are mentioned here are seen as the heathen, or unsaved, world. God will be bringing people from all around the unsaved world to His kingdom and there will be more people than there is room to place them.


Zechariah 10:11 – He shall pass through the sea of troubles and strike down the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up. The pride of Assyria shall be laid low, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart.

The two empires that are mentioned here are seen as the leading Gentile, or heathen, empires. This is alluding to how God gave them escape from Egypt many years prior to show that His power is eternal. There will be nothing that can stop His power from saving His people.


Zechariah 10:12 – I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name,” declares the Lord.

This is the final victory. This is the time in which His people will be protected as they walk the streets. God strengthens His people. See Ephesians 3 or Ephesians 6. Look at Philippians 4. God strengthens us as we seek Him. And we are given the ability to walk in His name.

Zechariah 9 Commentary

Zechariah 9 through 14, the chapters that will complete the book, are a collection of two different oracles. Scholars are unsure of when this section of the book was written, but most seem to think it was when he was an old man. Most people think these oracles are fulfilled by Alexander the Great conquering the region 200 years from Zechariah’s writing.

Zechariah 9:1 – The oracle of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach and Damascus is its resting place. For the Lord has an eye on mankind and on all the tribes of Israel,
The ESV uses the word “oracle” here. While it makes sense, as this is an oracle, the actual word that most versions use is “burden.” An oracle is a message that includes a burden, so either can be used, but I find it more fitting to use the word “burden.”

This is predicting an event that will happen. Using the word “burden” or “oracle” means that it is a judgment event, or something that would cause turmoil.

Hadrach is an area that is not well understood. The name comes from Jewish backgrounds with “Had” meaning “sharp” and “Rach” meaning “soft.” It could also be an allusion to the city of Hatarika, which is written about in Assyrian writings about an area near Hamath.

Damascus is one of the main capitals of Syria, and one of the main areas of God’s judgment.

While there are no other mentions of Hadrach in the Bible, there are Assyrian inscriptions for both Hadrach and Damascus and that they were close to each other. During the judgment that will fall on these cities, those who believe will have their eyes on God.

Zechariah 9:2 – and on Hamath also, which borders on it, Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
Hamath was close to Damascus (Isaiah 10:9). In Amos 6:2 it is called Hamath the Great. According to one of the early church fathers, he says that Antioch was also called Hamath by some people. It is this area that the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

Tyre and Sidon are two major cities in Lebanon, north of Israel. The Assyrians tried to conquer Tyre at one point and failed. Nebuchadnezzar tried to take Tyre for 13 years. It took Alexander the Great 7 months to conquer it.

Both cities were known for their wisdom (Ezekiel 28:3). But in 1 Corinthians we find that the message of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. Regardless of wisdom, the message is foolishness if you are dead in sin.

Zechariah 9:3 – Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the streets.
What made Tyre so strong was that it was an island city. The island was about a half mile offshore and had walls as high as 150 feet in some places. Alexander built a causeway between the mainland and the island city by using the rubble from the city on the mainland.

While Alexander conquered the city physically, the Gospel conquered the city spiritually.

Tyre was a rich city of commerce who had built a wall that was seen as impregnable. That was not enough to hold off an army that God willed to be used to bring its destruction.

Zechariah 9:4 – But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions and strike down her power on the sea, and she shall be devoured by fire.

It is interesting to note a difference between the Septuagint and many of the versions we read today. Instead of “the Lord will strip her of her possessions….” we see that “the Lord will inherit her….” It is interesting to think that in the ESV we see Tyre being stripped of her possessions while in the Septuagint they are becoming the Lord’s possession.

Tyre was burned to the ground by Alexander the Great.

Zechariah 9:5 – Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited;
During the conquest of Alexander the Great, the surrounding cities were scared. Many of the cities listed in this verse are the cities in Philistia. After the destruction of Tyre, Alexander the Great marched to the south and destroyed the cities of Philistia.

Gaza and Ashkelon, according to Judges 1:8, are in close proximity to each other.

Something that is of interest is that Philip the Evangelist most likely first preached the Gospel here. Also, the idea of a “king” in the area of Gaza is a little confusing. Gaza was ruled by a governor, not a king. But, the idol that was worshipped in Gaza was known as the “lord of man.” When Christianity came to the region, this idol, or king, was destroyed.

Alexander the Great was to be feared. One of the governors of the cities listed in this verse was killed when the armies took leather straps and tied one end to a chariot and tied the other end through the soles of his feet and dragged him throughout the city. It is no wonder these cities feared Alexander the Great and his armies.

Zechariah 9:6 – a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia.
The ESV sanitizes this verse a little. The original language actually specifies what would closer be considered a “bastard child.” This would be someone who is born unlawfully either outside of marriage or in a forbidden marriage. This can also sometimes come to mean a race of people without a moral compass. So this would be someone who is not equal by birth based on the culture at the time.

Alexander was known to destroy any culture of a region when he took it over. This would destroy the national pride a country has and replace it with pride for Alexander’s reign.

Zechariah 9:7 – I will take away its blood from its mouth, and its abominations from between its teeth;
it too shall be a remnant for our God; it shall be like a clan in Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.
This verse is showing an end to the idol worship and a turning toward God. Part of the idol worship at the time was to drink blood and eat food that was sacrificed to idols.

This verse has a dual meaning. The conquest of Alexander the Great is, of course, the primary focus of this oracle. But one cannot help but to see the future implications of this verse.

The Jebusites were conquered by David in 2 Samuel 5 and combined with Israel. This verse is saying that Philistia will have the same outcome.

And when the apostles went into that region, many converted to Christianity.

Zechariah 9:8 – Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again march over them, for now I see with my own eyes.

When Alexander the Great was on his march of conquest, he left Jerusalem alone. God promised the protection of His house. God has said that “no oppressor shall march over them again.” When Alexander was marching south, he went back through Palestine rather than through Israel.

This is pretty remarkable in thinking that God is using Alexander here to judge the pagan nations while protecting Israel. How much more so will God protect His people when the Messiah returns?

When we think of what happened in Israel during Alexander’s march, it really is divine intervention. Jaddua, the High Priest at the time of Alexander, was praying to God. God told Jaddua to open the gates, which he did.

You see, here is the amazing part of this story: When Alexander saw the gates open and Jaddua standing in the gate dressed in purple with “God” engraved on his mitre, Alexander changed his mind about conquering the city. God gave Alexander a vision of Jaddua while he was sleeping.

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This is a calling out to the two different comings of Christ. This King that is being spoken of in this verse counters the glorious strength of Alexander by having the Christ ride in on a donkey. This King is also very different from any other human kings in that Christ comes with righteousness, salvation and humility.

A donkey is an animal of peace. This means that Israel’s King comes to bring peace. This was fulfilled upon triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Christ.

Zechariah 9:10 – I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The next five verses are going to speak about Christ’s second coming. A couple of words to discuss are:

  • Ephraim – this is an Old Testament word for Israel.
  • The river that is mentioned is the Euphrates.
  • And being “cut off” in regards to the war horse and the battle bow means that there will be peace.

This is talking about the rule of Christ around the entire world.


Zechariah 9:11 – As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

This is another verse which has a lot of things that need explained. The “blood of my covenant” is the original covenant that was made with Abraham in Genesis 15.

Then there is that “waterless pit.” In that time, prisoners would have been kept in a dry well. Think of what happened to Joseph when his brothers threw him into the pit. It is the same idea here.

God is saying that he has returned the prisoners from the pit (exile) because of the covenant that has been in force since the days of Abraham.
Zechariah 9:12 – Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

These prisoners of hope, as God calls them, are to receive a double blessing. Just as in Isaiah 61:7, instead of shame, they will receive a double portion.

Just like what happened to Job, after his horrible experiences, God returned to him a double portion of blessings.
Zechariah 9:13 – For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.

This could be an allusion to the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees revolted against the successor of Alexander. The death of Antiochus Epiphanes is the main point of this verse.

But I think this has a farther meaning. I think this is saying that the apostles, all Jews, will be sent to the Gentiles to proclaim the Word of Christ.

Zechariah 9:14 – Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord God will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

God will appear over them! They will be witness to Him. God will be leading the battle. God is bringing forth the holy war.

I think of verses like Matthew 24:27: For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Or 1 Thessalonians 4:16: For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.


Zechariah 9:15 – The Lord of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones, and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar.

God’s people will be protected by God. And their enemies will be as if they ae drunk and weak. Almost as if they are given for slaughter on the altar. The sacrificial bowls that were used to catch the blood of the victims is shown here as full.

Zechariah 9:16 – On that day the Lord their God will save them, as the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.

The first thing to note is that God is going to win this battle. The flock of God’s people goes back to Ezekiel 36 in which God says that He will increase with them like a flock and that they are a holy flock.

Instead of the stones being used in the slings showing the weakness of the enemies, God’s people will be like the stones in a crown, jewels.
Zechariah 9:17 – For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.

This final verse shows the times of prosperity in Jerusalem. It reminds us of chapter 8 verse 5 in which Zechariah says the streets will be filled with boys and girls playing in the streets.

Zechariah 8 Commentary

Zechariah 8:1 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying,

As we have seen before, this tells us that we have yet another message coming from God.

Zechariah 8:2 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.

The word “jealous” is typically used when God is telling of something that He is intensely passionate about. Some translations use the phrase “zealous.” In Exodus 20:5, we learn that God is jealous and will not tolerate anything rivaling His glory. This phrase is being used to show that He is passionate about restoring his covenant with His people.

The phrase “Thus says the Lord” is in this chapter of Zechariah 10 times. When we see this phrase, it is to stress the promises God has made with His people.

Zechariah 8:3 – Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

I find it interesting that some versions of the Bible call Jerusalem a “city of truth” and the ESV calls it the “faithful city.” While they can be used to mean similar things, reading it without context can lead to confusion.

A faithful city is one that will be faithful to the Lord. Yes, that does include the truth of God’s Word and love, but I think that we can easily pass by that word in the Bible in our 21st century American minds. When I read other versions and see “city of truth” I perceive a city that is ruled by God and their words and their actions are both based on the truth of God alone.

I believe the phrase “city of truth” needs to be used here rather than “faithful city” because of the tie it has to verse 16. This would make this chapter more consistent with the rest of the book.

We also see in this verse the “holy mountain,” which ties back to Isaiah 6:3. The mountain is holy because God is there.

We need to remember that simply returning from captivity did not end the sin that God’s people would do. This is more prophetic than historical in nature. The sin won’t come to an end until the Savior returns a second time.

Zechariah 8:4 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age.

Think of what those who were in captivity returned to. Jerusalem’s walls were all destroyed and they were coming back to a city that was a ghost of what it once was.

Between this verse and the next, we see that God is promising to have the city be vibrant once again.

Zechariah 8:5 – And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

There would be families once again growing in Jerusalem. The Targum (a spoken translation of the Tanakh, or the Scriptures, in a language for the common people) says that instead of playing in the streets, these children will be singing or praising God in the spaces of the city.

Children are seen to be a blessing from God. With these same children playing in the streets, they have nothing to fear. Peace has come to Jerusalem.

Zechariah 8:6 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts?

The people must have marveled at being called home. I am sure that the captives were struggling to not lose hope, but the situation that they were in must have seemed hopeless.

This one act, bringing God’s people home, was a miracle that only God could make happen!

Zechariah 8:7 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country,

This is a very interesting verse! Think of this in terms of history. The Israelites were taken captive to the north. The western scattering didn’t happen until the first century AD! At this point, there were no Jews in the western world.

I really believe there are two different ways to look at this verse: physical and spiritual. In the physical sense, east and west could mean the entire world. Think of Deuteronomy 30:3: “That then the Lord your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all nations where the Lord has scattered you.”

In the spiritual sense, God is speaking of the salvation that is offered to the entire world. Think of verses like Malachi 1:11 or 1 Timothy 4:10.

Zechariah 8:8 – and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”

When I read this verse, I immediately think of Hebrews 8:10: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people.”

But then I realize that the verse in Hebrews is reverse of this. In this verse, the people must want to be God’s before He will be theirs.

This is one of the most important promises in all of Scripture! Imagine the awesome time we will have with God being our God and us being His people! This is both physical and spiritual. It isn’t just for Jews. It is for all.

Zechariah 8:9 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who in these days have been hearing these words from the mouth of the prophets who were present on the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

God is talking about the building of the temple in this case. He is encouraging His people to get the temple built. The foundation of the temple had been laid over 15 years before this was written. As we will see in the upcoming verses, the were running out of money and they were facing opposition.

But one can’t help but think about Ephesians 6:10 in this: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

Zechariah 8:10 – For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there any safety from the foe for him who went out or came in, for I set every man against his neighbor.

This is a backward look at a forward promise. God is telling them that where they came from was very poor in condition compared to where He is about to bring them to.

Zechariah 8:11 – But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the Lord of hosts.

God is not going to allow the same fate to happen to this remnant that He did to the people before.

Zechariah 8:12 – For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

This verse and the next show the depth of God’s promises to His people. God is about to reverse the curses from Deuteronomy 28 and Jeremiah. Let’s look closer at this.

There will be a sowing of peace. Most other versions have listed “the seed shall be prosperous.” I think I like the other versions more than the ESV again in this. Simply saying that there is a sowing of peace doesn’t show the countering of Haggai 1:6 in which there would be sowing and it wouldn’t come to much.

Then we see that the vine will give her fruit and the ground shall give its produce. This is a counter to Haggai 1:11 in which there was a drought.

The heavens will give their dew. Again, we are countering Haggai 1:11 in which the drought was prevalent.

Zechariah 8:13 – And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”

Both Judah and Israel are brought back. Unified. God is not going to have them be a curse among the nations, but a blessing. A couple of verses to think about for this:

Genesis 12:2 – And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

Then another one that speaks to this, after Jesus was resurrected,

Galatians 3:28-29 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave to free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

Zechariah 8:14 – For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts,

So for the idolatry, abominations, and sins of the fathers, God brought disaster to His people. He didn’t end the relationship, however. As these are His sons and daughters, He wanted them simply to turn back. His people needed punishment.

Zechariah 8:15 – so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.

God has forgiven them and has chosen now to bless them. Just as in Isaiah 14:24 we see that whatever God plans He does, the same can be said here. The time for fear has passed. The time for abundant faith and blessing has come.

Zechariah 8:16 – These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

As in all other times, the blessings come with obedience. We can’t expect to see God’s blessings if we choose to be disobedient. We see similar words in Psalm 15:1-5 when David asks who can live on the holy hill.

To stay under God’s blessing, these need to be a people who will speak the truth and execute honest judgment. Ephesians 4:25 tells us to speak truthfully to our neighbor and to put away our lying.

Zechariah 8:17 – do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”

Our hearts determine who we are. Our character. Anything that runs counter to God’s Law is hated by God. Just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Zechariah 8:18 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,

We are about to get a new message. This is one that includes us Gentiles in it as part of the promises.

Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus says 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 seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.

The fasts that are listed, which were to commemorate the destructions and/or deaths of others, are now to be feasts that are joyful times to celebrate what the Lord has done for the remnant returning.

Zechariah 8:20 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities.

This tells us that people from all over the different cities will be coming to Jerusalem. I like to think that this is foreshadowing the travels of Paul. Paul traveled all over the place and the people he came in contact with became part of the family. This is the same family that God is talking about in this verse.

Zechariah 8:21 – The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’

The people from the other cities will come to seek the Lord. These Gentiles care about each other. This reminds me of John 13:35 where Jesus tells His disciples that people will know they are His by the love they show one another. The fact that these Gentiles are going to each other to help them seek Christ shows that love that Jesus is talking about.

Zechariah 8:22 – Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.

This is very exciting! People from all around the world will come to seek God and to pray to Him. Galatians 3:8 says that God justifies the heathen through faith and that all nations are blessed.

Zechariah 8:23 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Ok, here’s a question. Why “ten?” Typically when ten nations is used in a verse it stands for the world governments. This means that the world will be seeking Christ. The Gospel was given to the Jew first, then the Gentile. But God is available for all nations.

Revelations 7:9-10 – After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, all kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

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