Zechariah 8

Zechariah 8:2 I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy

In the bridal metaphor, the daughter of Zion is the bride of Jehovah.  In this context, the Lord admits that he has been like a jealous lover in the relationship.  He was furious that his bride cheated on him, committing adultery with the false gods of the Canaanites.  They burned incense to Baal; they performed evil rituals in the groves under cover of darkness; they defiled the temple bringing idol practices into the temple itself (2 Kgs. 23:4-7).  The Lord’s emotional response was that of the angry lover, full of “great fury.” 

There is also the connotation that the Lord was protective of his bride with great fury.  He had killed the Egyptian armies in the Red Sea; He had strengthened Gideon to destroy the Midianites (Judges 7); he had strengthened David to extend the borders of Judah; and to protect the city, Jehovah killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2 Kgs. 19:35).  Consider then, the emotions of Jehovah turned Jesus as he looked upon Jerusalem.


O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, and ye would not! (Matt. 23:37)

Zechariah 8:3 Thus saith the Lord; I… will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem… the mountain of the Lord of hosts

God will dwell on the earth.  That is an amazing concept.  That is what Zechariah is teaching—that the Lord God Omnipotent will leave the throne of God and make his throne in Jerusalem.  Remember that from the perspective of the Jewish audience.  There is no distinction between Elohim and Jehovah.  They worship the Lord and the Lord Himself is going to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.  Such a wonderful promise is too good to be true.  Certainly, the prophet is speaking figuratively and not literally!  Right?

Well, the more faith you have, the more you come to realize that Jehovah, the Only Begotten of Elohim, will very literally dwell in Jerusalem during the Millennium.  He will reign from his throne in the Temple.

Through Latter-day revelation, we know that Jerusalem will not be the only resting place for the Son of Man.  There will be a temple in Jerusalem; and there will be a temple in Jackson County Missouri—the Old Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. From the Old Testament scriptures alone, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to ascertain which situations reference the New Jerusalem and which scriptures refer to the Old.  Joseph Smith explained that these passages about Zion refer to the New World and the New Jerusalem.

Joseph Smith

You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion— where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land. When Elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies in the Bible, they will see it. (Teachings, 364)

Zechariah 8:4-6 the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets

When Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and Zechariah returned from Babylon with a remnant of Jews, they numbered around 42,000 (Ezra 2:64).  Certainly, there were children and the elderly in the group (Ezra 3:12), but not many.  By contrast, Zechariah is shown the millennial Jerusalem with old men and women safely socializing in the streets.  Peace prevails to such a degree that the children fill the streets.  What a contrast to the city in Zechariah’s day!  That is why the Lord says that such a sight would be “marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people.”  The Jews were worried about safety inside and outside of the city.  Even now, Jerusalem is a city on edge, a powder keg where violence can erupt any moment—not exactly a place where you tell your kids to go out in the streets and play.  In the Millennium, that will change.

Bruce R. McConkie

And what of the inhabitants of the Holy City? "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age." It is the day when men shall live to the age of a tree and then be changed from mortality to immortality in the twinkling of an eye. "And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof." It is the day when the children of the prophets shall grow up without sin unto salvation. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 300)

Zechariah 8:9-15  the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid

Again, we have prophetic foreshadowing—the Zerubbabel Temple is a type for the Millennial Temple.  We remind the reader that temple construction had begun but had been halted by political interference from the Samaritans.  One of Zechariah’s messages is to resume the construction.  The Lord is saying to Zechariah’s saints, “Those of you who have been witnesses to the foundation of this temple, let your hands be strong and fear not.  Though I have been angry with you fathers for rejecting my word, yet shall I bless you in the land.  I will not be unto this people as in the past, but rather, your seed shall be prosperous, your crops productive, your animals shall multiply; I will save you from your enemies, and I will make Jerusalem great again.”  In a small degree, all these things took place when the Zerubbabel temple was rebuilt.  Unfortunately, the blessed state of Jerusalem didn’t last. 

Yet, all the promises remain for those who witness the foundation of the house of the Lord prior to the Second Coming.  Jerusalem will be blessed, protected, and honored.  The curse upon Judah will be lifted and replaced with blessings from above. 

Zechariah 8:10  before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast

During the Babylonian Captivity, Jerusalem was a disaster.  There were no jobs.  There was no safety.  The Lord had set “all men every one against his neighbor,” meaning you had to watch your back and protect your family at all times.  The residue not taken to Babylon—those who should have remained and stabilized the region went instead to Egypt for safety.  Again, they had rejected the Lord and put their hopes in Pharaoh.  They coerced Jeremiah to go with them (Jer. 42-43), leaving Jerusalem completely unstable.

Zechariah 8:16  Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute… judgment… and peace

These are temple themes, even as those who are a temple attending people should be able to abide this requirement.  The Old Testament temple worthiness interview used to be:

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. (Ps. 15:1-3)

The emphasis of the Prophet Zechariah is not much difference than the emphasis of the latter-day prophets. 

Brigham Young

I have not asked the people to perform this great labor… You may ask what it is? It is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. Now, is this not [always] one of the first requirements that God has made of his people? And I have not yet required it of the people. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and then speak evil of thy neighbor? No! No! Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and speak that which is not true? No, oh, no! Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and take that which is not thy own? No, no, no! Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and seek after riches of the world and forsake your religion? No! Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and take his name in vain, curse and swear? No, never! If the love of God was really in the hearts of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints, there would be no more swearing, no more lying, no more deceiving, no more speaking evil of one another, no more running after the ungodly nor dealing with the enemies of Zion, no more running after the gold mines; nothing would be sought after, only to build up the Kingdom of God. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 21)

Zechariah 8:17 let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor

Joseph F. Smith

I am convinced that it is wrong for a man to harbor evil and enmity in his heart towards his neighbor. He should repent of these things and forsake them, and when he does so he will begin to feel the good effects of repentance, and he will know that it is a correct principle. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 3, Sept. 3, 1892)

Zechariah 8:19 The fast… shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts

The Law of the Fast was kept in Old Testament times, but it is hard to find much in the scriptures about it until Isaiah 58 and Zechariah 7:5-13; 8:19.  During the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews started to observe a fast in the “fifth and seventh month,” but the Lord complained that their fast was misguided, “When ye fasted in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” (Zech. 7:5).  In chapter 8, the Lord gives them a new requirement regarding the fast—that they should fast the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 10th months. In our day, it is every month.

The take away from this chapter is that the Law of the Fast is about, “joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts.”  Really?!  Sometimes, it seems like it is about complaining children and famished parents. But Zechariah helps us to understand that the Fast includes the Feast!  This was a huge revelation to me!  Why?  Because we always look at the wrong side of the coin.  To us, fasting means starving for a day, not joy, gladness, and cheer.  Zechariah includes the feast which breaks the fast as part of the fast.  This means the fast doesn’t end when you eat; the meal is the climax and culmination of the Fast!  This is game changer!  What is the best meal of the month?  Isn’t it the meal you eat to break your fast?  Doesn’t the food taste especially good?  Isn’t there just a little more gratitude during the blessing on the food? It is the best part of the fast—a time of joy and cheer—a cheerful feast indeed.

Zechariah 8:22-23 many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem

During the Millennium, tourism in Israel will increase a hundredfold.  If there are a lot of religious pilgrimages now, there will be many more then.  What a contrast to Zechariah’s day, when the small band—a tiny remnant of what used to be a great nation—is a despised and broken people!  Nobody wanted to associate with the Jews.  They were on their own, “a hiss and a byword” (3 Ne. 16:9) To Zechariah’s audience, the concept of 10 men taking the skirt of a Jew to follow him to the Temple was incredible if not incredulous.

Now, the Latter-day Saints are leading the way in temple worship.  Eventually, the rest of the world will recognize that the temples of the Latter-day saints and the temples in Zion and Jerusalem are indeed places to commune with God. The Latter-day Saints started like this small band of Jews, a temple building people with inauspicious beginnings that will grow until the world recognizes that the power of God is among the Saints.  The New Jerusalem will be “a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it…  and there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven… the righteous… shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy” (D&C 45:66-71)

Joseph Smith

I met the quorums in the evening… and gave them instructions in relation to the spirit of prophecy, and called upon the congregation to speak, and not to fear to prophesy good concerning the Saints, for if you prophesy the falling of these hills and the rising of the valleys, the downfall of the enemies of Zion and the rising of the kingdom of God, it shall come to pass. Do not quench the Spirit, for the first one that opens his mouth shall receive the spirit of prophecy. (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 152 - 153)