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God’s Promises to Zion


The word of the L ord of hosts came to me, saying: 2Thus says the L ord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3Thus says the L ord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the L ord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. 4Thus says the L ord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. 5And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6Thus says the L ord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the L ord of hosts? 7Thus says the L ord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; 8and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

9 Thus says the L ord of hosts: Let your hands be strong—you that have recently been hearing these words from the mouths of the prophets who were present when the foundation was laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the L ord of hosts. 10For before those days there were no wages for people or for animals, nor was there any safety from the foe for those who went out or came in, and I set them all against one another. 11But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the L ord of hosts. 12For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.

14 For thus says the L ord of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the L ord of hosts, 15so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid. 16These 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, 17do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the L ord.

Joyful Fasting

18 The word of the L ord of hosts came to me, saying: 19Thus says the L ord 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 seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace.

Many Peoples Drawn to Jerusalem

20 Thus says the L ord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, the inhabitants of many cities; 21the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Come, let us go to entreat the favor of the L ord, and to seek the L ord of hosts; I myself am going.” 22Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the L ord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the L ord. 23Thus says the L ord of hosts: In those days ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”


He goes on with the same subject, and in this verse he states two contrary things, in order to render more clear what he teaches here — that while God was angry the earth was barren, and all things went on unhappily with the Jews; but that when God had begun to be reconciled, the earth had as it were changed its nature, and brought forth plentifully, and that they were in every way made blessed.

Hence he says, As ye have been a curse, etc. Here again he mentions and reminds them how miserable they were while they minded only their private interest, and by neglecting the temple manifested their impiety and ingratitude; for what ought they to have been more ready to do when they returned to their country than to build the temple, and to offer there sacrifices to God, in order to avow him as the author of their deliverance? But the temple was neglected; and the Prophet concludes that they must have been extremely forgetful, if they did not consider what their condition was as long as they had no care for the temple; and he says that they had been a curse among the nations; that is, that they were an example of a curse, according to the threatening of the law. For it is a mode of speaking frequent in Scripture, that the people were a curse; and the common formula of cursing was — “Let the Lord curse thee as he does the Jews.” Zechariah then says that the Jews had been a curse, that they had not only been smitten by God’s hand, but that they had been given up to calamities, in order that they might become to all detestable, and bear in a manner signs of God’s wrath imprinted on them. Whoever then at that time looked on a Jew, he might see that he had the appearance of bearing a curse. In short, Zechariah means that the Jews had been punished in a manner not common or usual, but that God had executed on them dreadful judgments, which made it evident to all that he was grievously offended with them. Ye have been then a curse among all nations 8787     Calvin takes no notice of the words “House of Judah, and house of Israel.” This has occasioned difficulty to some interpreters. But Newcome thinks that “many of the ten tribes” returned with “the house of Judah” from captivity, and are here addressed. Henderson is of the same opinion, and adds these remarks — “They also (that is the house of Israel) returned to Palestine, [בימים האלה], in the very days (verse 15) to which it (the prophecy) refers. All attempts to discover them at more recent periods have proved utterly fruitless; and the idea that they must still exist somewhere in the world, and are still to be restored in their tribal state, has arisen from misconstruction of those prophecies which refer to the return from Babylon.” — Ed.

He then adds, So I will save you, as ye shall be a blessing. The word save is introduced that God might more clearly set forth his favor, lest the Jews should think that the change had been effected by fortuitous change; for we know that men’s thoughts soon change, and they feign this or that cause that they may obscure God’s providence. God then, before he promises that they should be a blessing, says that he would save them. What it is to be a blessing may be easily learnt from the opposite clause. They are then said to be a blessing who bear evident tokens of God’s favor and kindness. So the Prophet means, that when people wished to be prayed for, or when they wished well to one another, this would be the common form of their requests — “May God bless us as he blesses his chosen people: as the Jews are dear to God, so may he favor us with the same or similar kindness.” Thus then we see that the Jews were a curse, when exposed to extreme reproaches; and that they became a blessing when God manifested towards them tokens of favor, and showed in reality, or by the effect, that he was pacified towards them.

He says, in the last place, Fear ye not; strengthened be your hands. He exhorts them to entertain hope, for fear stands opposed to confidence; and fear, proceeding from unbelief, cannot be otherwise dissipated but by God’s promises made to us, which chase away all doubts. Rightly then does the Prophet teach us that the Jews had no reason to fear, for he declares that God was propitious to them. We indeed know that all fear cannot be wholly driven away from the hearts of men; for it would be necessary to deprive us of every feeling before we could regard dangers without fears. But though fear is natural to us, and occasions of fear ever occur to us, yet the fear of unbelief may be dispelled by faith; and hence it is no wonder that God condemns fear, when he promises salvation to his elect. But as I have said, we ought to observe that there is here a contrast between condemnable fear and that confidence which relies on God’s word. We must also add, that the confidence of God’s children is never so complete that they are free from all fear, even the fear of unbelief; but still we ought to struggle against it, so as not to be hindered in the course of our calling. And this we learn more fully from the end of the verse.

Strengthened be your hands. But why does the Prophet forbid the Jews to fear? even for this purpose, — that they might arouse themselves for the work which the Lord had allotted to them, and not allow fear to retard them or to prevent them to persevere.

We now then perceive how the faithful become prepared and ready to render service to God: sloth must first be shaken off — but how? even by having fear removed. What is the remedy for healing fear? even to recomb on the promises of God; for when our minds are composed, the hands and the feet and all the members will be ready to do their office. Alacrity both of mind and heart and of all the members follows, when fear is shaken off, and when men begin so to rely on God’s word, as to know that his help is enough for them against all dangers, and to dread nothing, being convinced that the Lord will by his power remove all hindrances.

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