8 1-2 The word of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, came, this time bringing a series of five short messages about hope.
Eternal One: First, I have a jealous desire to be among My people in Zion. I want it more than anything. I am burning with angry jealousy for her and her welfare.
3 Second, I will return to Zion and live in the heart of Jerusalem. So it will then be known far and wide as the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will be called Holy Mountain.
4 Third, elderly men and women will sit in Jerusalem’s streets with staffs in hand because of their old age. 5 The city streets will bustle with boys and girls playing outside on the roads and in the squares.
Ultimately, God’s purpose is redeeming His fallen creation. He initiated His plan of redemption by calling and equipping the children of Abraham to be a light to the nations. Zechariah foresees a day when Jerusalem is the center of the world; when people of every race, creed, and color journey to it; and when the Jews show the rest of the world the way to the one True God.
After chapter 8, the Book of Zechariah changes—its tone, its character, its focus. Chapters 1–8 have been about the people and times immediately after the exile ended, a period when Persia ruled the world. Chapters 9–14 seem removed from that world, its people, and its interests—but just how far removed is uncertain. It is possible that these last chapters were not written by Zechariah, and the debate about who wrote them and when they were written has raged since Jesus died. In 27:9-10 of his Gospel, Matthew identifies the author as Jeremiah, a forerunner of Zechariah. More recent scholarship has further confused the matter because the setting in chapter 9 could describe any time in Jerusalem between Hezekiah’s rule before the exile and the Maccabean revolts 400 years later. This inability to positively identify the author and the audience, along with the lack of historical, contextual markers in the text itself, make these words universally applicable. They may even describe the end time when God judges the nations.
6 Fourth, this may come as a surprise to the remnant of these people, eking out an existence during these harsh days, but what is surprising to you is not for Me.
7 Fifth, I will rescue My people from far and wide, from east to west across the land, 8 and I will bring them home to live in peace in Jerusalem where they will be My people once more. I will be truthful and just to them as their God.
9 Here is an encouragement from the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
Eternal One: To those of you who have been listening recently to My words through the prophets, who were working for Me when the foundation of the house of the Eternal One was being laid just decades ago, keep yourselves strong so that the temple walls may now be built. 10 Before then no one could earn a living in Jerusalem or in exile. Neither men nor their animals could find work. No one could move about safely for fear of his enemies because I had turned every man against each other. 11 However, that was the past. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise I will not treat the remnant of My people as I once did. 12 What you witness now will be very different—a new day when seeds of peace will be sown in fertile soil. The seeds will grow into sheaves of wheat, and the vines will produce luscious grapes. The ground will yield its crops, and pleasant dew will again fall from the heavens. And I will give these things to My remnant as their inheritance. 13 Because you, people of Judah and Israel, were once the objects of scorn among the nations, I will rescue you and you will become a blessing. Don’t be afraid, and keep yourselves strong.
14 When your ancestors angered Me, I was determined to bring disaster to your generation as well as theirs, and I refused to change My plan. 15 All the same, I have now determined to do good for Jerusalem and the people of Judah. Don’t be afraid. 16 Here are the things you must do: Speak truth to each other. Pursue justice in your courts. Render decisions that reflect truth and bring peace to the community. 17 Do not conspire to bring harm against one another. Do not make promises you don’t intend to keep. I hate all these things.
So said the Eternal.
18 The word of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, came to me with three brief messages about a happy future for His people and the entire world.
Eternal One: 19 From now on, the fasting times of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be happy occasions and times of celebration for the people of Judah. So you should love truth and pursue peace.
20 Many people from many cities will come streaming to My holy city. 21 The citizens from one of these cities will approach the citizens of another and say, “You must come with me. Let’s journey to Jerusalem to seek the blessings of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, and ask for His favor directly. I am certainly going.”
22 That is why many people and powerful nations will come together as one to Jerusalem to seek the blessings of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, and ask for His favor directly.
Eternal One: 23 A day is coming when 10 men, people from every nation speaking every language will grab the cloak of a Jew and beg him, “Let us come with you because we have heard the True God is among you and we want Him to save us, too.”
Just as God used the plagues to judge the Egyptians and deliver His people from bondage (Exodus 7–12), these plagues will help rescue God’s faithful servants.
16 Then I heard a great voice coming from the temple ordering the seven heavenly messengers.
A Voice: Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth.
2 So the first messenger poured out his bowl onto the earth. When he did, a foul-smelling, painful sore broke out on each person who bore the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image.
3 The second messenger poured out his bowl into the sea. When he did, the waters became like the blood that spills from a dead body, and every living creature in the sea died.
4 The third messenger poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of fresh water. When he did, they, too, became blood. 5 And I heard the messenger over the waters speak.
Messenger over the Waters: You are just, O holy One who is and who was,
for You have judged these things rightly.
6 Because people shed the blood of the saints and prophets,
You have given them blood to quench their thirst.
They are deserving of these punishments.
God’s judgment is true and just. Violent people are thirsty for blood, so God gives it to them. Sometimes judgment means receiving what you desire.
7 And I heard a voice from the altar agree.
A Voice: Yes, Lord God, the All Powerful,
true and right are Your judgments!
8 The fourth messenger poured out his bowl on the sun. When he did, the sun was permitted to blister people with its fire. 9 The incredible heat of the sun burned their skin; but instead of rethinking their actions[a] and glorifying God, they cursed God’s name because He had the power to carry out these plagues.
10 The fifth messenger poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. When he did, its kingdom was blanketed in darkness. People chewed on their tongues out of the depth of their agony. 11 Still they refused to change their wicked ways,[b] so they cursed the God of heaven because of their painful afflictions and ulcerous sores.
12 The sixth messenger poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates. When he did, the river dried up and became a road so that the kings from the east and their armies could make their way. 13 What I saw next troubled me deeply: three foul spirits like frogs appeared, belched from the mouth of the dragon, the mouth of the beast, and the mouth of the earth-beast. 14 These frogs are demonic spirits. As they go into the world, they perform miracles persuading the kings of the world to gather for the last battle on the great day of God, the All Powerful.
The dragon, beast, and earth-beast are an unholy trinity who send out demonic spirits. These spirits resemble frogs and remind the reader of the plague of frogs that invaded Egypt before the exodus. These foul spirits roam the world, persuading the kings of the earth to assemble together to do battle against God and His chosen.
A Voice: 15 See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the person who watches and waits, dressed and ready to go, so as not to wander about naked, exposed to disgrace.
16 And the kings gathered at the place called Har-Magedon in Hebrew.
Har-Magedon means Mount Megiddo and is sometimes transliterated “Armageddon.” This refers to the battleground where the armies of the earth, led by the forces of evil, will assemble to mount their final attack against God. This place is often associated with the plain of Megiddo in northern Israel because the fertile land there has often been turned into fields of blood during gruesome battles. In a place like this, for one last time, evil will raise its ugly head against good.
17 Finally, the seventh messenger poured out his bowl into the air. When he did, a great voice came out of the temple, from the throne.
A Voice: It is accomplished!
18 At the sound of the voice, there were flashes of lightning, sounds of voices, rumblings of thunder, and tremors of an earthquake. In all of human history, there had never been an earthquake of this magnitude. 19 The great city was torn into three parts, and the cities of all the nations fell. God remembered the great city, Babylon, and made her drink the cup of His fury and wrath. 20 Every island sank into the ocean, and no mountains were left to be discovered. 21 And great hailstones, each weighing nearly 100 pounds, fell from the sky onto the people until they cursed God because the plague of hail was so severe.
A song of David.
1 Blessed be the Eternal, my rock.
He trains my hands for war, gives me the skills I need for battle.
2 He is my unfailing love and my citadel.
He is my tower of strength and my deliverer.
He is my shield of protection and my shelter;
He holds my people in check under me.
3 O Eternal One, what is man, that You even care to know him?
or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
4 Humans are like a passing breath;
their time on earth is like a shadow that passes over us during the day and soon is gone.
5 Eternal One, stretch out an opening in the heavens, and descend.
Touch the mountains, and make them smoke.
6 Send forth bolts of lightning, and scatter my enemies.
Shoot Your fiery arrows, and rout the enemy.
7 Reach down from Your high place;
save me out of the great waters;
rescue me from the grasp of these foreigners
8 Who speak only lies
and don’t have truth in their deeds.
9 To You, my God, I will sing a new song;
I will sing Your sweet praises to the sound of a ten-stringed harp,
10 For You deliver kings from their enemies
and You rescue Your servant, David, from the sword of evil.
11 Rescue me,
and save me from the grasp of these foreigners
Who speak only lies
and don’t have truth in their deeds.
12 May our sons be like healthy plants
as they grow and mature,
And may our daughters be like the corner pillars
that decorate a palace.
13 May our storehouses be full
with abundant supplies of every crop,
And may the flocks of our fields
multiply into thousands and tens of thousands!
14 May our cattle be strong and productive,
without miscarriage, without loss,
and may there be no riots or protests in our streets!
15 Happy are the people for whom all this is true;
happy are the people whose God is the Eternal!
29 There are three creatures with majesty in their stride,
no, make it four that move with grace:
30 The lion, which is the strongest of the animals,
does not back down from any other creature;
31 The strutting rooster, the male goat,
and a king as he goes out with his army.[a]
- 30:31 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.