The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 5: Scattering and Gathering

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 5: Scattering and Gathering

In the last segment of this presentation of the prophecy of Zechariah, we left off part way through chapter 8. The theme of that segment, which began with Zechariah chapter 7, we identified as Sin and Punishment. We are calling this segment Scattering and Gathering. In the Biblical context, the two concepts cannot be separated from one another. A major underlying theme of all the Biblical prophets, which is often expressed in very explicit terms, is the scattering of Israel in punishment for their sin, and the gathering of Israel in mercy and reconciliation. Yahweh did not scatter Israel without a purpose, and He promised to gather Israel explicitly and exclusively. By the time of the prophet Zechariah, the scattering of Israel was an accomplished fact. But even before the scattering was accomplished, through the more ancient prophets Yahweh had set forth these exclusive plans by which He would both reconcile Himself to Israel, and gather them together once again (at least allegorically), while at the same time the promises to the patriarchs in relation to the destiny of their seed would be fulfilled. This plan is illustrated in prophecy as early as the books of Moses, so it was a part of Yahweh’s Law and it is His Divine Will for Israel from the very beginning. This is the entire purpose of God set forth in Scripture, and there is no other purpose for the coming of Christ outside of this purpose.

For this precise reason, Paul of Tarsus had written in Romans chapter 8, where he was speaking to some of the descendants of those same scattered Israelites: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Those brethren are the children of Israel, as Paul had explained in chapter 2 of his epistle to the Hebrews, “16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”

Just as it was important for Christ to be of the seed of Abraham, to fulfill the promises to Abraham, it is also important for Christians to be of the seed of Abraham, to fulfill the promises to Abraham, as Paul himself had explained in Romans chapter 4 where he professed that the promise was certain to all the seed of Abraham. Anything but seed from Abraham’s loins was rejected by God, and is a denial of the promises to Abraham. Abraham was blessed because He believed God, that his seed would come from his loins, and Christians must also believe that same thing: that Abraham’s seed became many nations, according to the promise “so shall thy seed be” (Romans 4:18), that those nations originated from the scattering of Israel, and it is they for whom Christ had come. Any other belief is not Christianity.

So in Zechariah chapter 7 we saw the record of a relatively minor event, and a description of it was employed as an example in order to describe a greater purpose, where Yahweh illustrated the sins, recollected the scattering, and again promised the gathering and reconciliation of the same ancient children of Israel. The ultimate meaning of this prophecy of Zechariah being a Messianic prophecy of Christ, we also see the very purpose of the Christ described in these chapters.

The people of the town of Bethel had sent men to inquire of the priests and leaders in Jerusalem as to whether they should continue to keep the fasts which they had been keeping since the original temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. But upon their inquiry Yahweh admonished them through the prophet, informing them that they had never kept any of the appointed fasts or feasts for His benefit, but rather they kept them only for themselves and for their own benefit. The prophet then explained that the former prophets, those of the Old Kingdom, had warned them of this same thing, and had instructed them of their sins, but neither had the people listened to them.

With this, some of the sins of the people were recounted, and those which are mentioned help to illustrate the original purpose of the feasts, fasts and sabbaths. The ancients should have used the appointed days as opportunities to serve their communities. But they had not shown mercy and compassion to their brethren, and instead the poor and weak of the people were exploited. It is for this that Yahweh said in the closing verse of Zechariah chapter 7 that “I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.”

But even though the children of Israel had sinned so grievously that Yahweh put them away and sent them into captivity, in the opening of Zechariah chapter 8 He nevertheless expresses His jealousy for them. That same jealousy expressed for Israel here in Zechariah was also expressed by Yahweh in the context of their disobedience in Deuteronomy chapter 4, which we shall cite shortly. This is God using the expression of a human emotion. We snap at our spouses in anger, and immediately we feel bad that we expressed our anger. We spank our children and send them off to sulk, and while they do so we also feel bad that we are separated from them. So Yahweh expresses His love for His people Israel in those same terms, as the children of Israel are both collectively His wife, and individually His children. But while the anger of men may sometimes be unrighteous, the anger of God is justified.

Yahweh used this same analogy of wife and children speaking of Israel in Jeremiah chapter 3 where He spoke to Judah, as the northern tribes were already in captivity, and He said in part: “1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD…. 4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? 5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end?… Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. 7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

In this analogy, the twelve tribes of Israel collectively are the wife, but the children, portrayed as two sisters, are treated separately, one already having been put away as the other was about to be put away. So it is written later in Jeremiah chapter 33, after it was determined that Judah would also go into captivity, that Yahweh said: “24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them.” And even this also bears a message of hope, where continuing it says: “25 Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; 26 Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.” If we still have day and night, if we still have a heaven and an earth, then the Messiah has come to reconcile Israel, the seed of Jacob.

For the sins of Israel, at the end of Zechariah chapter 7 Yahweh said that He “scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not”, and the prophet opens this chapter where the Word of God had come to him and said “I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury…. I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” The prophecy which follows, which describes children playing and people inhabiting the streets of Jerusalem, had a near-term fulfillment. But as we have already discussed, it also has a far-reaching fulfillment in Christ, which was the very purpose of the building of the second temple. So in verses 7 and 8 of this chapter we read: “7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.” This cannot describe the 70-weeks Kingdom, and it never happened during that period. As Daniel chapter 9 explains, the existence of the 70-weeks Kingdom and the ministry of Christ conducted there made possible the gathering and reconciliation of the children of Israel and the remission of their sins. Jerusalem in this prophetic aspect refers not to the city in Palestine, which was slated for destruction, but to the seats of government of the people of God wherever they may be.

And that passage is where we left off in our last presentation of this prophecy, where we thought to digress here, seeing an opportunity to revisit this plan of God as it is expressed throughout Scripture: that the children of Israel would be scattered, and that it is those same children of Israel, their descendants, whom Christ had come to regather. We cannot illustrate all of the passages that explain this plan in one or two hours, but we shall endeavor to elucidate how very old this plan was in the mind of God, and how consistently it was exhibited throughout the prophets. When Paul confidently wrote of the purpose of Yahweh in Romans chapter 8, this was the purpose he had in mind. It is incredible to us, that most Christians do not even have any cognizance of these simple Scriptural truths.

In Deuteronomy chapter 4 we see a warning to the children of Israel as they are about to inhabit the land of Canaan: “23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. 24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God [the same emotion expressed for Israel in Zechariah chapter 8, long after Israel was scattered]. 25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger: 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. 27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you [the scattering of Israel was already inevitable]. 28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” If we examine this text closely, it becomes evident that it was not conditional that the children of Israel were going to be scattered. Rather, it was inevitable. So they were warned to remember the covenants not to prevent themselves from being scattered, but rather so that they could look back in the place of their captivity and know that their God would be true to His promises which He had made to their fathers. But it was just as inevitable that although they had these promises, they would nevertheless practice idolatry after they were scattered. Once the children of Israel are properly identified in ancient history, we may see that history has indeed followed this prophecy.

Likewise, in Deuteronomy chapter 28 there are promises of blessings and curses for obedience or disobedience to the Law. There it says, in part: “58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; 59 Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. 60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. 61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. 62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God. 63 And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. 64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. 65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: 66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life….” And while this warning of scattering sounds conditional, that does not mean that it was not inevitable. The provenance of God certainly expressed that inevitability once again just a few verses later in that same book.

In Deuteronomy chapter 30 the scattering of Israel is foretold as an inevitable reality, where the Word of God says: “1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee….”

Yahweh Himself had indicated in Amos chapter 5 that this promised scattering of Israel was inevitable from the very time of the Exodus. The same passage was later cited by Stephen in Acts chapter 7. There it is evident that Stephen also interpreted these passages in this same manner, where it is recorded that he said “42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” So the children of Israel had turned to paganism from the beginning, and in their scattering they continued in their paganism. As we had already explained discussing Zechariah chapter 7, to some degree that scattering already began with the Exodus, and although the records are not found in our Bibles they are found in history. But in spite of this scattering, the children of Israel were nevertheless the recipients of the promises made to their fathers, on which account they would eventually be reconciled to their God through Christ.

Speaking of those same events of the Exodus, we read in Psalm 106 that “6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. 7 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. 8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.” Then, further on in that same Psalm, “47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the [nations], to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. 48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” Likewise we read in Psalm 107: “1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy [as we also read in Luke chapter 1]; 3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south [as we read in Matthew chapter 8 and in Luke chapter 13].”

This same scattering and gathering is a major theme of the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 11 we read: “12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Then, for just another example, we may see the Word of Yahweh in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine…. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.” It is these same outcasts of Israel of whom Zechariah speaks here when he wrote “7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”

With these prophecies it should also be apparent that if Christ came to gather His people, yet the Jews had been scattered after His ministry, as Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, then the Jews simply cannot be His people. Rather, His enemies were scattered according to His Word, and His people became Christians.

We have already cited Jeremiah chapter 33:24-26 in regard to this scattering and gathering. But there are three other passages of Jeremiah which stand out as witnesses to this same scattering and gathering, and which are also related to the promise of the New Covenant found in Jeremiah chapter 31. First, Yahweh is recorded as having told the children of Israel through the prophet in Jeremiah chapter 29: “14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Then Yahweh addresses the nations in general, where He affirms the promise of the gathering of Israel just before the promise of the New Covenant with Israel, and He says in Jeremiah chapter 31: “10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.” The last passage we will cite from Jeremiah in this regard is from Jeremiah chapter 32, where Yahweh says: “37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.”

None of these promises of scattering and gathering were directed at the people now known as Jews. Rather, the scattering was spoken of in the past tense by all the later prophets, and even in the time of Isaiah who lived to see it. Isaiah wrote up to the time of Hezekiah, when Israel and most of Judah had already been taken captive by the Assyrians. Jeremiah likewise wrote over 600 years before the so-called diaspora of the Jews when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The real scattering of true Israel began with the Exodus and ended with the captivity of the remnant in Babylon, which only consisted of a small portion of Judah who were not taken by the Assyrians.

So in Jeremiah chapter 23 we read that Israel is already scattered: “1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” And then, on the other hand, we have Jeremiah chapter 31 where Yahweh says “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.” We see this same theme repeated in Ezekiel chapter 34: “1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.”

The scattered children of Israel are exclusively the sheep of Yahweh’s pasture, as we have seen them described in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The identity of the sheep was never changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and therefore Christ Himself professed in Matthew chapter 15 that “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He was sent to make reconciliation to Israel, as it says in Psalm 74: “O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?”

Israel was already scattered by the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and none of them were ever called Jews. When they were scattered, they were practicing what we now look back on and call paganism. The Bible refers to paganism as idolatry, and allegorically as fornication or harlotry because the nation as a whole is the wife of Yahweh its God. So in that manner the apostle James address his epistle to the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, and Paul in Acts chapter 26 distinguished them from Jews where he said “6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Therefore the Jews are not the twelve tribes, and the twelve tribes are distinct from the Jews.

For this reason, that the actual tribes of Israel are to be gathered to Christ, when Christ speaks of the resurrection He does not speak of gentiles, and He does not speak of some replacement for Israel, or so-called “spiritual” Israel. Rather, in Matthew chapter 19 He speaks of the twelve tribes of Israel, that it is they whom the apostles would preside over, where He said “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Likewise He is recorded as having said in Luke chapter 22: “28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

For this same reason, the City of God described in the Revelation has the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on its gates. It is only those twelve tribes who will be gathered into the Kingdom of God, as we read in Matthew chapter 25: “31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...” This plan of God from the foundation of the world was for a kingdom of the children of Israel at the exclusion of all other peoples, fulfilling the promises Yahweh made to Abraham. So it says in Isaiah chapter 27, “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Ultimately, the sheep all go to the Kingdom of God, and the goats all go to Hell: to the proverbial Lake of Fire never to be seen again.

The other races and those who would defend them can scoff at all of this, however there is an answer for that in Psalm 79: “10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. 11 Let the sighing of the prisoner [Israel in captivity] come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die [Israel in sin]; 12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. 13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.” It speaks again of the children of Israel in Psalm 100: “3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture”, and again in Psalm 95, which hearkens once more to the Exodus: “7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness….” Paul cited this verse in his epistle to the Hebrews, and Christ thought of no other sheep when He professed that “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Those who attempt to gather anything but the sheep to the sheepfold, are themselves scatterers, and not gatherers, as Christ also attested.

So with this promise of the scattering and gathering of ancient Israel, we shall commence with Zechariah chapter 8:

9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

Here is a warning, that the men who came to inquire of Zechariah and the priests as it is described at the beginning of Zechariah chapter 7 heed the prophets, as their fathers had been heedless of the prophets of old. However here it says prophets, in the plural. We had discussed earlier in these segments of this presentation of Zechariah that the prophet Haggai had conducted his own ministry at this very time. Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, followed some time thereafter.

10 For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.

Yahweh had warned the people of Judah of this same thing, in Isaiah chapter 3, as a punishment for their sins: “1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, 2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, 3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. 4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. 5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. 6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand….” So now we see the fulfillment of the punishment which Yahweh had prophesied in Isaiah, and a promise that it would pass in the 70-weeks Kingdom. So long as they obeyed the prophets of their own time, they would be relived of this punishment.

11 But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.

This is an offering to the remnant of the people who returned to build the second temple, that the period of punishment would be lifted if they heeded the prophets, Zechariah and Haggai. The “residue of this people” would be just that, those who remained in Jerusalem to effect the will of God in the second temple period. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the very purpose of this second temple and the 70-weeks kingdom is to effect the greater promises of God and the reconciliation of all Israel. So we shall see the direction of the prophecy widen in scope as it proceeds.

But before we proceed, we must take notice that this prophecy also has an immediate and an ultimate meaning, a near vision and a far vision. Where it admonishes the men to heed the prophets “that the temple might be built”, and recounts prophecies and admonishments relating to how the people of Israel had treated one another in the past, the temple which is referenced is not merely the brick-and-mortar temple. Rather, it is referring to the body of the people themselves, the true temple of God found in the scattered children of Israel. That temple would be built as the ultimate result of the second temple and the 70-weeks Kingdom. In this aspect we read:

12 For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

The seed here is not merely agrarian seed, but rather it speaks collectively of all of Israel, which becomes evident in the verse which follows. As the Word of Yahweh says in Isaiah chapter 45, “17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” and “25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” However here there is also an immediate fulfillment in the remnant at Jerusalem, which prospered through the several centuries down to the time of Christ. But after accepting the Gospel of Christ, the nations of scattered Israel had also prospered, and considering all of Israel, the people scattered among the nations may also be considered “the remnant of this people”.

13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

That same passage of Isaiah chapter 45 addresses the scattered children of Israel who had taken to paganism, but who were called to reconciliation: “20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

Here in this passage of Zechariah, where it mentions the house of Israel and the house of Judah, the remnant which returned to build the 70-weeks Kingdom cannot represent both of these, or even either of them. While they are sometimes referred to as the “house of Judah”, they were actually only a small remnant of that house. Therefore the far vision, the long-term fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in the ministry of Christ, is clearly manifest in Zechariah’s words.

The phrase “all the ends of the earth”, as it appears in Isaiah chapter 45, also refers to the scattered children of Israel. This is evident in places such as the blessing of Moses to the tribes recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 33. There, for example, it says speaking of Joseph that “17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” Likewise, he spoke of Zebulon, Issachar and Naphtali and he said “19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand... 23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.” Of course, the initial land assigned to Naphtali was in the north of Palestine. But these tribes, along with Asher, were the principle peoples later called Phoenician by the Greeks. Moses gave blessings to the other tribes as well, but these here show that the presence of the tribes was certainly not expected to be limited to the small land in Palestine.

Here Yahweh tells both houses of Israel that “ye were a curse among the heathen”. While many Israelites settled across Europe and the Mediterranean shores from the earliest times, the people who were a “curse among the heathen”, referring to the other Adamic nations, were those who were taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylonians. We see a reference to the curse again in Galatians chapter 3, where Paul had said that “13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” and this once again exhibits the Messianic nature of Zechariah’s prophecy. Ultimately in Christ, we read in Revelation chapter 21 concerning the City of God: “3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him…”

14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: 15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

The ultimate objective of the prophecy is realized in the fulfillment of the far vision, which is the salvation of all of Israel and Judah. But here only Judah is mentioned, because the method by which that salvation is ultimately accomplished is immediate, where Yahweh must preserve the 70-weeks Kingdom of the remnant of Judah in Jerusalem as the vehicle by which He would achieve the ultimate objective.

16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.

And, as we have seen in chapter 7 of Zechariah’s prophecy, these are some of the things in which the ancient children of Israel and Judah had failed. Loving and treating one’s brethren as one hopes to be treated by God is one of the major themes of the Gospel of Christ, and that is being expressed here. But here there is a deeper message. The manifestation of a litigious society reflects the greed of the people and their turning against one another, disaffected from brotherly love. But Yahweh exhorts His people to judge their brethren righteously in accordance with His law. He also exhorts His people to forgive their brethren, as we read in the Septuagint version of Proverbs chapter 12: “28 In the ways of righteousness is life; but the ways of those that remember injuries lead to death.” Likewise, in Proverbs chapter 17: “9 He that conceals injuries seeks love; but he that hates to hide them separates friends and kindred.” When we neglect to forgive our brethren, we alienate one another, and cannot build the body of Christ.

Judgment in the ancient world was conducted in the gates of the cities, and therefore we see the reference to gates here. The children of Judah were chastised by Yahweh for their lying and false oaths in Jeremiah chapter 5: “1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. 2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.” We see Yahweh’s retribution for the perversion of judgment described in Isaiah chapter 29 where it says “20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: 21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” Likewise we read of these sins for which Israel was scattered in Habakkuk chapter 1: “3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” These are the evils for which Yahweh calls the remnant of Judah to repent here in Zechariah. Now we have a further word:

18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying, 19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

As we have already asserted, here we see that the context of this prophecy is still within the scope of the admonishments which the prophet offered those who came to Jerusalem to inquire as to whether they should continue to keep the fasts, as it was described in the beginning of chapter 7. If the remnant of Judah keeps the appointed fasts with sincerity, and even those fasts that were added later by their rulers, then they shall have the blessings of Yahweh their God.

20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

We have seen that from its very beginning, the prophecy of Zechariah is a Messianic prophecy for the scattered children of Israel as well as for the remnant 70-weeks Kingdom in Jerusalem. If in these chapters Yahweh stated that He had scattered Israel, but that He would regather Israel, and if in other prophecies the children of Israel were to become many great and strong nations, then we cannot assume that these nations which would come to seek the Lord are anything other than those same nations of scattered Israel.

In Zechariah chapter 2 we read a plea to Israel from God: “6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon…. 10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.” Then in Zechariah chapter 7 Yahweh said that “I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known” and here in chapter 8 He offered reconciliation where He said “Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; 8 and I will bring them back, and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem, and they will be My people and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.'”

With these promises we cannot imagine that the many people and strong nations mentioned by Zechariah here are anything other than the people of Israel who were already scattered by God. Likewise, in Micah chapter 4 we read the following: “1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. [Zion, the people of God, will become the greatest of nations. The people that flow into it are also scattered Israel, as we see in the verse which follows:] 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.… 5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. [So all of these nations and people flowing into the house of God are the gathering of scattered Israel.] 6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”

Micah chapter 4 is a prophecy which repeats in part the earlier promises to the patriarchs. In scattered Israel, the seed of Abraham which tarried would remain a remnant, but those who wandered afar would become a strong nation. It can be established that they became known as the Germanic peoples, and indeed, the further they wandered the stronger the nations which came from them. We can see in Isaiah 66:19 where Yahweh had said that He would send them, and that is where the Germanic peoples began to appear as they migrated from Mesopotamia in the centuries after the deportations of Israel by the Assyrians. Scattered Israel cast far off eventually became strong nations returned to Yahweh their God through Yahshua Christ. This is also evident in the final passage of Zechariah chapter 8:

23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a [Judahite], saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Speaking of the children of Israel in captivity, Yahweh said in Isaiah chapter 52: “3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. 4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.” Then we read in verse 7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The reference to the oppression of the Assyrian is a reference to the captivity of the children of Israel, and here we are told that they would receive the gospel of salvation in that captivity, and that is the purpose of the Gospel of Christ: to bring the good news of their salvation to the scattered children of Israel, that they may return to Yahweh their God through Christ. There is no other purpose in Scripture. Israel was scattered for their sins, and through the forgiveness of Christ they are regathered to their God.

The word which we inserted here in Zechariah 8:23, Judahite, is the proper translation of the Old Testament word describing someone of Judah. Perhaps in the context of the New Testament, Judaean would have been better. It should certainly not be Jew, since that term wrongly insinuates that today’s Jews are Judah, something which the Scripture as well as history denies. The proper translation of the Hebrew word is Judahite, and the corresponding Greek term means Judaean.

A proper translation and interpretation of Scripture can only be made once there is a proper understanding of its context. So Paul had said in Acts chapter 26 that the Christian hope was meant for the twelve tribes of Israel, and not the Jews. Likewise, his original commission as it is described in Acts 9:15 and as it is properly translated in the Christogenea New Testament was to bear the Name of Christ “before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.” Once the context of Scripture is understood, the consistency and fulfillment of the promises of God can be recognized, and there is no conflict.

The ten men here can only represent the so-called “lost ten tribes”, the children of Israel who were scattered. While they really represented large portions of all twelve tribes, historically they were called ten because there remained a remnant of Judah and Benjamin in Judaea. The reference to “him that is a Judahite”, or Judaean, represents the apostles of Christ going out to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” bearing the gospel of their salvation. The Judaean historian Flavius Josephus had said in his Antiquities of the Judaeans, where in Book 11 he had written of the remnant which returned to build the second temple: “but then the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country; therefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.” Of course, Josephus was ignorant of what had been happening to those people whom he elsewhere had called the “northern barbarians”, that many of them had been wandering northward through the Caucasus Mountains, establishing the Germanic tribes of Europe and Asia. But Paul of Tarsus was not ignorant of them, and informs us of their identity throughout his surviving epistles. Those scattered Israelites who were converted to Christ by the apostles understood that God was with them. Zechariah surely was a Christian prophet.

Here we conclude our presentation of Zechariah through chapter 8.

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