What God had to say in response to the people’s question about fasting was unexpected. God’s answer had four points:

  1. God did not like their fasting because it was all empty ritual.
  2. God wanted the people to live lives of righteousness.
  3. God was now prepared to bless them and
  4. God would one day turn all their fasting into feasting.

Third PointGod’s Blessing

Many see these next verses as the greatest prophecy of the future in the whole Bible, the fulfillment happening when Jesus comes to establish His millennium kingdom.

The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying:

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

Thus says the Lord:

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 Lord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain.

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 their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

Thus says the Lord 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 Lord of hosts? 

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

Thus says the Lord 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 Lord of hosts. For 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. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the Lord of hosts.

For 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. 

Zechariah 8:1-12 (NRSV)

The Lord was now prepared to bless God’s people, God’s heart overflowed with a protective, passionate love for them. It is as though God wanted them to stop dwelling on the past and instead become overwhelmed with how much the Lord loved them, how much the Lord wanted to bless them and what kind of future the Lord had planned for them.

God changes us by revealing God to us, giving us a taste of what the Lord is really like and pouring God’s life into us.

God delights in us, and has a vision of who you and I can be. God, Who is All-knowing, is not dismayed at sin, or by sin. The Lord has full confidence in the good God has placed in us, because that good is God, by the power of God’s Spirit.

God shows you and me what is bad and painful in us so that we may experience God’s grace and receive God’s cleansing and transformation.

Just 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.

Zechariah 8:13 (NRSV)

God’s people would be a blessing, not a curse, to the nations – can you imagine Israel being considered a blessing by the nations that surround it today? That has definitely not yet been fulfilled.

Fourth PointFasting Into Feasting

The Lord summarized God’s first three points, then added

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,

Zechariah 8:16 (NRSV)

Then the Lord explained God’s fourth point:

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 seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah:

therefore love truth and peace.

Zechariah 8:19 (NRSV)

God was saying: You have been fasting because of your sinning. You have had to do without because of sin in your life. But I your Lord am going to turn all that mournful fasting into happy feasting.

There was a shadow of fulfillment in this prophecy in seasons of freedom and prosperity for the people now living in Judah, but those times were brief against the backdrop of their history.

Today is yet again a shadow of fulfillment for Israel, though all these fasts are actually still on the Jewish calendar. But spiritually speaking, God has fulfilled this prophecy of turning mourning into joy the day Jesus was raised from the dead.

Literal Fulfillment

Jesus had told His disciples their tears of sadness would be turned into joy, a joy that no one would ever be able to take from them

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 

When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

John 15:10-12, 16:20-22 (NRSV)

Zechariah’s and Jesus’ prophecies were literally fulfilled one Sunday morning, the Lord’s Day, 2,000 years ago.

Some have posited the final prediction in this oracle could pertain to the Day of Pentecost.

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

Peoples shall yet come, the inhabitants of many cities;  the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Come, let us go to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.” Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the Lord.

Thus says the Lord 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.”

Zechariah 8:20-23 (NRSV)

Compared with

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.  And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each

So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:1-6, 41-42 (NRSV)

[Pentecost | Weingarten (Württemberg) , Basilika St. Martin und Oswald, Fresken von Cosmas Damian Asam, 1718–1720 Chorfresko „Pfingtswunder“, Detail By Cosmas Damian Asam – Self-photographed, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72887438%5D

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