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The Blessing of True Fasting

Then the message of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[a] came to me as follows: “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘I am very much concerned for Zion; indeed, I am so concerned for her that my rage will fall on those who hurt her.’ The Lord says, ‘I have returned to Zion and will live within Jerusalem. Now Jerusalem will be called “truthful city,” “mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,” “holy mountain.”’ Moreover, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘Old men and women will once more live in the plazas of Jerusalem, each one leaning on a cane because of advanced age. And the streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing.[b] And,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘though such a thing may seem to be difficult in the opinion of the small community of those days, will it also appear difficult to me?’ asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies asserts, ‘I am about to save my people from the lands of the east and the west. And I will bring them to settle within Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God,[c] in truth and righteousness.’

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies also says, ‘Gather strength, you who are listening to these words today from the mouths of the prophets who were there at the founding of the house of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,[d] so that the temple might be built. 10 Before that time there was no compensation for man or animal, nor was there any relief from adversity for those who came and went, because I had pitted everybody—each one—against everyone else. 11 But I will be different now to this remnant of my people from the way I was in those days,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, 12 ‘for there will be a peaceful time of sowing, the vine will produce its fruit, and the ground its yield, and the skies[e] will rain down dew. Then I will allow the remnant of my people to possess all these things. 13 And it will come about that just as you, both Judah and Israel, were a curse to the nations, so I will save you and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid! Instead, be strong.’

14 “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘As I had planned to hurt[f] you when your fathers made me angry,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘and I was not sorry, 15 so, to the contrary, I have planned in these days to do good to Jerusalem and Judah—do not fear! 16 These are the things you must do: Speak the truth, each of you, to one another. Practice true and righteous judgment in your courts.[g] 17 Do not plan evil in your hearts against one another. Do not favor a false oath—these are all things that I hate,’ says the Lord.”

18 The message of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies came to me as follows: 19 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘The fast of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth[h] months will become joyful and happy, pleasant feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’ 20 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘It will someday come to pass that people—residents of many cities—will come. 21 The inhabitants of one will go to another and say, “Let’s go up at once to ask the favor of the Lord, to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Indeed, I’ll go with you.”’ 22 Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask his favor. 23 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘In those days ten people from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”[i]


  1. Zechariah 8:1 sn There is a remarkable concentration of this name of God in this section of Zechariah, 18 times in this chapter out of 53 in the book. It emphasizes the Lord’s sovereignty in contrast to the human impossibility of accomplishing what lies ahead.
  2. Zechariah 8:5 sn The references to longevity and to children living and playing in peace are eschatological in tone. Elsewhere the millennial kingdom is characterized in a similar manner (cf. Isa 65:20; Jer 31:12-13).
  3. Zechariah 8:8 sn The affirmation They will be my people, and I will be their God speaks of covenant renewal, a restoration of the unbroken fellowship the Lord desired to have with his people but which their disloyalty had shattered. In the eschaton God and Israel will be in covenant union once again (cf. Jer 31:33).
  4. Zechariah 8:9 sn These prophets who were there at the founding of the house of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies included at least Haggai and Zechariah, and perhaps others. The founding referred to here is not the initial laying of the temple’s foundations in 536 b.c. (Ezra 3:8) but the resumption of work two years before the time of the present narrative (i.e., in 520 b.c.), as vv. 10-12 make clear.
  5. Zechariah 8:12 tn Or “the heavens” (so KJV, NAB, NIV). The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “skies” depending on the context.
  6. Zechariah 8:14 tn The verb זָמַם (zamam) usually means “to plot to do evil,” but with a divine subject (as here), and in light of v. 15 where it means to plan good, the meaning here has to be the implementation of discipline (cf. NCV, CEV “punish”). God may bring hurt but its purpose is redemptive and/or pedagogical.
  7. Zechariah 8:16 sn For a similar reference to true and righteous judgment see Mic 6:8.
  8. Zechariah 8:19 sn The fasts of the fifth and seventh months, mentioned previously (7:5), are listed here along with the observances of the fourth and tenth months. The latter commemorated the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians on January 15, 588 b.c. (2 Kgs 25:1), and the former the breach of the city walls on or about July 18, 586 b.c. (Jer 39:2-5).
  9. Zechariah 8:23 sn This scene of universal and overwhelming attraction of the nations to Israel’s God finds initial fulfillment in the establishment of the church (Acts 2:5-11) but ultimate completion in the messianic age (Isa 45:14, 24; 60:14; Zech 14:16-21).