Zec_8:9-10. Thus saith the LORD of hosts: Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the month 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. 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.
See into what a state sin brought Israel. There was no bread, no work, no wage, no peace. Every man was the enemy of his neighbour.
Zec_8:11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
He would change everything, and give them happiness and prosperity.
Zec_8:12. 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.
God can turn our estate as easily as a man turneth his hand. “The Lord can clear the darkest skies, can give us day for night.” As the wheel revolves, so can the whole fortune of a man change speedily under the kind hand of God.
Zec_8:13. 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.
The Jew had become the very model of a curse. “You are as cursed as a Jew,” said the enemies of Israel; but God would make them to be the very model of a blessing, so that men should say, “You are as blessed as the house of Israel.”
Zec_8:14-15. 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: So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
It is a very instructive and encouraging passage. When God threatened to punish his people, he did it. He did not play with words. He punished them, and repented not. And so when God promises to bless his people, he will not run back from his word, but he will carry out every jot and tittle of it in the blessing of his people.
Zec_8:16-17. 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: 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.
He will have his people true, even if they swear to their own hurt. They must not change. They are to speak the truth, though a thousand calamities should be let loose thereby. May God make us a truth-loving, truth-speaking, truth-doing people.
Zec_8:18. And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,
This is the point that I call your attention to. You had the question when I began to read, and here is the answer.
Zec_8:19. 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.
Here is an answer to more than they asked for. The messengers only enquired about one fast — what they should do with it — namely, the fast of the fifth month; but they get instruction upon three other fasts. If you come to God’s Word upon any point, you will not only be resolved upon that point, but you will be guided in many other ways, for God’s Word is full of instruction, and they that are willing to be taught of it shall become wise in all ways. So now they are told that these fasts were to be turned into feasts.
Zec_8:20-21. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 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.
It is a fine thing when we invite other people and can always say, “I will go also.” There are many people who say, “Do as I do, not as I say”; but if our example keeps pace with our precept, there will be power in our precept. “Let us go,” said they; and he that said it added, “I will go also.”
Zec_8:22. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
And it is so, even now. We have received our religion from a Jew. We believe in One who was of the seed of Abraham. We rejoice in him as also the Son of God, and many nations come crowding about the Christ of God.
This exposition consisted of readings from Zechariah 7; Zec_8:9-22.