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A Call to Justice and Mercy

On December 7[a] of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech,[b] along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction,[c] as we have done for so many years?”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message in reply: “Say to all your people and your priests, ‘During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn,[d] was it really for me that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves? Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah[e] were well populated?’”

Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

11 “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.

13 “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 14 As with a whirlwind, I scattered them among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”

Promised Blessings for Jerusalem

Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!

“And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion, and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building. 10 Before the work on the Temple began, there were no jobs and no money to hire people or animals. No traveler was safe from the enemy, for there were enemies on all sides. I had turned everyone against each other.

11 “But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings. 13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!

14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”

18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter[f] are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.

20 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. 21 The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ 22 Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing.

23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Judgment against Israel’s Enemies

This is the message[g] from the Lord against the land of Aram[h] and the city of Damascus, for the eyes of humanity, including all the tribes of Israel, are on the Lord.

Doom is certain for Hamath,
    near Damascus,
and for the cities of Tyre and Sidon,
    though they are so clever.
Tyre has built a strong fortress
    and has made silver and gold
    as plentiful as dust in the streets!
But now the Lord will strip away Tyre’s possessions
    and hurl its fortifications into the sea,
    and it will be burned to the ground.
The city of Ashkelon will see Tyre fall
    and will be filled with fear.
Gaza will shake with terror,
    as will Ekron, for their hopes will be dashed.
Gaza’s king will be killed,
    and Ashkelon will be deserted.
Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod.
    I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.
I will grab the bloody meat from their mouths
    and snatch the detestable sacrifices from their teeth.
Then the surviving Philistines will worship our God
    and become like a clan in Judah.[i]
The Philistines of Ekron will join my people,
    as the ancient Jebusites once did.
I will guard my Temple
    and protect it from invading armies.
I am watching closely to ensure
    that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land.

Zion’s Coming King

Rejoice, O people of Zion![j]
    Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
    He is righteous and victorious,[k]
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
    riding on a donkey’s colt.
10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel[l]
    and the warhorses from Jerusalem.
I will destroy all the weapons used in battle,
    and your king will bring peace to the nations.
His realm will stretch from sea to sea
    and from the Euphrates River[m] to the ends of the earth.[n]
11 Because of the covenant I made with you,
    sealed with blood,
I will free your prisoners
    from death in a waterless dungeon.
12 Come back to the place of safety,
    all you prisoners who still have hope!
I promise this very day
    that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.
13 Judah is my bow,
    and Israel is my arrow.
Jerusalem[o] is my sword,
    and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks.[p]

14 The Lord will appear above his people;
    his arrows will fly like lightning!
The Sovereign Lord will sound the ram’s horn
    and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert.
15 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will protect his people,
    and they will defeat their enemies by hurling great stones.
They will shout in battle as though drunk with wine.
    They will be filled with blood like a bowl,
    drenched with blood like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people,
    just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in his land
    like jewels in a crown.
17 How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
    The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
    and the young women will flourish on new wine.

The Lord Will Restore His People

10 Ask the Lord for rain in the spring,
    for he makes the storm clouds.
And he will send showers of rain
    so every field becomes a lush pasture.
Household gods give worthless advice,
    fortune-tellers predict only lies,
and interpreters of dreams pronounce
    falsehoods that give no comfort.
So my people are wandering like lost sheep;
    they are attacked because they have no shepherd.

“My anger burns against your shepherds,
    and I will punish these leaders.[q]
For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has arrived
    to look after Judah, his flock.
He will make them strong and glorious,
    like a proud warhorse in battle.
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
    the tent peg,
the bow for battle,
    and all the rulers.
They will be like mighty warriors in battle,
    trampling their enemies in the mud under their feet.
Since the Lord is with them as they fight,
    they will overthrow even the enemy’s horsemen.

“I will strengthen Judah and save Israel[r];
    I will restore them because of my compassion.
It will be as though I had never rejected them,
    for I am the Lord their God, who will hear their cries.
The people of Israel[s] will become like mighty warriors,
    and their hearts will be made happy as if by wine.
Their children, too, will see it and be glad;
    their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.
When I whistle to them, they will come running,
    for I have redeemed them.
From the few who are left,
    they will grow as numerous as they were before.
Though I have scattered them like seeds among the nations,
    they will still remember me in distant lands.
They and their children will survive
    and return again to Israel.
10 I will bring them back from Egypt
    and gather them from Assyria.
I will resettle them in Gilead and Lebanon
    until there is no more room for them all.
11 They will pass safely through the sea of distress,[t]
    for the waves of the sea will be held back,
    and the waters of the Nile will dry up.
The pride of Assyria will be crushed,
    and the rule of Egypt will end.
12 By my power[u] I will make my people strong,
    and by my authority they will go wherever they wish.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

11 Open your doors, Lebanon,
    so that fire may devour your cedar forests.
Weep, you cypress trees, for all the ruined cedars;
    the most majestic ones have fallen.
Weep, you oaks of Bashan,
    for the thick forests have been cut down.
Listen to the wailing of the shepherds,
    for their rich pastures are destroyed.
Hear the young lions roaring,
    for their thickets in the Jordan Valley are ruined.

The Good and Evil Shepherds

This is what the Lord my God says: “Go and care for the flock that is intended for slaughter. The buyers slaughter their sheep without remorse. The sellers say, ‘Praise the Lord! Now I’m rich!’ Even the shepherds have no compassion for them. Likewise, I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” says the Lord. “I will let them fall into each other’s hands and into the hands of their king. They will turn the land into a wilderness, and I will not rescue them.”

So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter—the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and named one Favor and the other Union. I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month.

But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, too. So I told them, “I won’t be your shepherd any longer. If you die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And let those who remain devour each other!”

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 That was the end of my covenant with them. The suffering flock was watching me, and they knew that the Lord was speaking through my actions.

12 And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.

13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter[v]”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the Lord.

14 Then I took my other staff, Union, and cut it in two, showing that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken.

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This illustrates how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves.

17 “What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd
    who abandons the flock!
The sword will cut his arm
    and pierce his right eye.
His arm will become useless,
    and his right eye completely blind.”

Footnotes

  1. 7:1 Hebrew On the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. This event occurred on December 7, 518 B.c.; also see note on 1:1.
  2. 7:2 Or Bethel-sharezer had sent Regemmelech.
  3. 7:3 Hebrew mourn and fast in the fifth month. The Temple had been destroyed in the fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar (August 586 B.c.); see 2 Kgs 25:8.
  4. 7:5 Hebrew fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months. The fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of July and August. The seventh month usually occurs within the months of September and October; both the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Shelters were celebrated in the seventh month.
  5. 7:7 Hebrew the Shephelah.
  6. 8:19 Hebrew in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months. The fourth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of June and July. The fifth month usually occurs within the months of July and August. The seventh month usually occurs within the months of September and October. The tenth month usually occurs within the months of December and January.
  7. 9:1a Hebrew An Oracle: The message.
  8. 9:1b Hebrew land of Hadrach.
  9. 9:7 Hebrew like a leader in Judah.
  10. 9:9a Hebrew O daughter of Zion!
  11. 9:9b Hebrew and is being vindicated.
  12. 9:10a Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 9:13.
  13. 9:10b Hebrew the river.
  14. 9:10c Or the end of the land.
  15. 9:13a Hebrew Zion.
  16. 9:13b Hebrew the sons of Javan.
  17. 10:3 Or these male goats.
  18. 10:6 Hebrew save the house of Joseph.
  19. 10:7 Hebrew of Ephraim.
  20. 10:11 Or the sea of Egypt, referring to the Red Sea.
  21. 10:12 Hebrew In the Lord.
  22. 11:13 Syriac version reads into the treasury; also in 11:13b. Compare Matt 27:6-10.

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