By Martin Cisneros
Let's open our Bibles to Zechariah 8 and we'll look at the first 17 verses of this chapter. This is a message of hope today. I personally believe these first 17 verses of Zechariah 8 correspond to the message of all 17 verses of Isaiah 54 for you advanced students that may find this message overly simplistic in it's presentation and would like to develop yourself a chart of thematic parallels between these two passages for your own edification. I may have opportunity to cover a few, but if I don't or lack thoroughness, [to your own satisfaction,] you can continue digging from here. Beginning with verse one of Zechariah 8 we read:
1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.’ Zechariah 8:1-2
Holding your place in Zechariah 8, let's look at Hebrews 12:22 for how the Bible describes the New Testament:
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels...
So as we read through Zechariah 8, it's talking to the Church. Let's look at 1Corinthians 10:11, then we'll look at 2Timothy 3:16-17 and we'll briefly look at Jeremiah 31:27-28 for something foundational to our understanding of Zechariah 8 and what I believe God is saying to us:
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1Corinthians 10:11
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17
27 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD. Jeremiah 31:27-28
So these Scriptures belong to the Church and are profitable for it's instruction, doctrine, correction, and equipping according to 1Corinthians 10:11 and 2Timothy 3:16-17. And Jeremiah 31:27-28 says He'd sow the house of Israel and He'd sow the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast. St. Paul indicated in Ephesians 2:15-16 that God sowed the house of Israel and He sowed the house of Judah with the seed of Gentiles in order to produce in Himself one new man.
So we may presume that if that's true of one part of this equation, then it's true of the other part of the equation, particularly in the light of other Scriptures that say as much. Therefore, He's sown the house of Israel and He's sown the house of Judah with the seed of beast because Romans 8:21 says the Creation must enter into the liberties of the children of God.
Going back to Zechariah 8 and reading from the third verse, it says:
3 “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’
I am fully persuaded that this return of the Lord to Zion is talking about an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, such as we have in the book of Acts. Lord Jesus said in John 16:13:
13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
As Hebrews 12:22 says we are at Mt. Zion, His New Jerusalem, through our submission and obedience to Christ, I believe John 16:13 calls Him the Spirit of Truth because He creates the atmosphere of the City of Truth that Zechariah 8:3 says we're abiding in, in Christ. Continuing on with Zechariah 8:4 it says:
4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of many days, literally. 5 The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets.’ Zechariah 8:4-5
It says in Isaiah 65:20 about these days we are walking into, right now: 20 “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
So, Biblically, a child is anyone under a hundred years old. It says in Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them (a little child being anyone under a hundred years of age). 7 The cow and the bear shall graze (implying bears won't eat fish); Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.
This is the description of the world that belongs to us in Christ that Zechariah 8 is talking about. Reading from verse 6 of Zechariah 8: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, Will it also be marvelous in My eyes?’ Says the LORD of hosts.
Yes, it is! This was the joy set before Him, the substance of the hope He authored through the power of His Holy Spirit, and the evidence of things not seen when it comes to God's love and His heart for us. Continuing with verse 7 of Zechariah 8:
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the rising sun and from the land of the setting sun (literally in the Hebrew); 8 I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.’ 9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, You who have been hearing in these days These words by the mouth of the prophets, Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid For the house of the LORD of hosts, That the temple might be built. Zechariah 8:7-9
Ephesians 2:20 calls the foundation His Apostles and Prophets. If it's the house of the Lord of hosts, then it's also the house of His hosts, which includes the angels. Lord Jesus said, in Luke 17:21: “the Kingdom of God is within you.” He said here in Zechariah 8:9 that He intends for our hands to be strong for what He has for us. It says in Zechariah 8:10-12:
10 For before these days There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast; There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in; For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ says the LORD of hosts. 12 ‘For the seed shall be prosperous, The vine shall give its fruit, The ground shall give her increase, And the heavens shall give their dew— I will cause the remnant of this people To possess all these.
(I later make a comment about who our neighbors are, and Zechariah 8:10 seems to offer an argument against what I say later, but there are several passages of Scripture where God set animals against the people, and various types are mentioned from types of birds to insects. So my suggestion later of expanding our concept of who our “neighbors” are isn't touched in the least, because He'd previously set animals against their neighbors as well!)
Contextually, Zechariah 8:10 echoes Ecclesiastes 3:18-19 about man and animals facing the same plight, I believe the "seed" that's spoken of in Zechariah 8:12 to be the seed spoken of in Jeremiah 31:27-28:
27 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.
Animals and Gentiles united with the house of Israel and the house of Judah are the temple of the Lord. The Lord of hosts says, in Zechariah 8:11, that He will not treat the remnant as in the former days, while Jeremiah 31:28 elaborates further on His treatment of Animals, Gentiles, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah: and it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.
For the seed shall be prosperous, according to Zechariah 8:12: the seed of man and the seed of beast. The vine shall give it's fruit. According to John 15:5, Lord Jesus is the vine and the Church is the branches. Mark 4:30-32 implies something suggestive about our fruit being shared with the animals. Genesis 1:29-30 is in agreement with this being His provision for both man and animals.
In Zechariah 8:12 it says the heavens shall give their dew. Hosea 6:3 says God comes to us as rain. Isaiah 55:10-11 likens His Word functioning in our lives like the stable water cycle of the earth. In Zechariah 8:12 God says that He will cause the remnant of this people to possess all of these. He will cause His people to possess a nurturing authority and dominion over the animals and the planet that builds and plants after His example of laying aside all of the plucking up, breaking down, throwing down, destroying, and afflicting that Jeremiah 31:27-28 talks about. In verses 13-15 of Zechariah 8, he alludes back to Jeremiah 31:27-28 in saying:
13 And it shall come to pass That just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel (that includes the seed of man and the seed of beast), So I will deliver you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, Let your hands be strong.’ 14 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Just as I determined to punish you When your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘And I would not relent, 15 So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22 again) and to the house of Judah. Do not fear.
He is determined to do good to Jerusalem. Zechariah 2:4-5 says He's a wall of fire around people and animals specifically for this reason. Again, Hebrews 12:22 indicates that Zion and Jerusalem are symbolic of the New Testament and our relationship with Christ. From Zechariah 8:16-17 we should close for now with 1John 3:14-24. In Zechariah 8:16-17 it says:
These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give truth, justice, and peace for judgment in your gates; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate, says the Lord.
Our neighbors would be comprised of Animals, Jews, and Gentiles according to Genesis 1, Psalm 104, Isaiah 11:6-9, Jeremiah 31:27-28, Jeremiah 33:6-16, Ezekiel 38:19-20, Hosea 2:14-23, Zechariah 2:4-5, Mark 4:30-32, Romans 8:19-22, and other passages. Let's close with 1John 3:14-24:
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 1John 3:14
Who are the brethren that we are to love according to Jeremiah 31:27-28? Animals, Jews, and Gentiles. I realize in saying that, with including the Animals, that I've gone beyond the New Testament, but I believe I've stayed within Biblical parameters for all that the Bible says we should regard as the New Testament. Let's continue reading in 1John 3, from the 15th verse:
15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eonian life abiding in him.
If He sowed the house, or family line, of Israel and Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast, then that's a marriage in Jeremiah 31:27-28; a type of blood brotherhood. And Hosea 2:18 confirms that because the word "covenant" in Hosea 2:18 is translated from the Hebrew word that's used elsewhere in the Bible that's clearly talking about a blood covenant. This Hosea 2:18; Jeremiah 31:27-28 covenant is in the Blood of Jesus. That's where God swore it. He was the lamb of God on the Cross to fulfill a redemptive role on the Cross, just as He was made sin, according to Ecclesiastes 2:26, 2Corinthians 5:21, and Galatians 3:13 so we'd be made His righteousness. Romans 8:21 says the Creation, i.e. what's nonhuman, must enter into the liberties of the children of God. That's brotherhood!
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1John 3:16-18
This right here is another command to go vegan. He's right there brought up the Spirit of Truth and the City of Truth from John 16 and Zechariah 8. Otherwise, if you can separate animals from the Covenant, you've broken faith and your fellowship with the Covenant of Peace in Jeremiah 31:27-28, and Isaiah 54:9-10. You are trying to bring walls within the fire of Zechariah 2:4-5 that Ezekiel 38:19-20 says have to fall in His Presence in the New Covenant, and you are not allowing rest in your Mark 4:30-32 branches and are dealing treacherously as a Zechariah 8:10 enemy of these animals' souls with trying to live in the Old Covenant portion of Jeremiah 31:27-28 that's been taken away in Christ. Continuing in 1John 3:
19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1John 3:19-22
Perhaps you've been keeping His commandments from your youth, but have you done as 2Peter 1 says with adding virtue to your faith by doing those things that are pleasing in His sight? Growing in understanding, shrinking in selfishness; growing in vision from the Gospel about His intent to create in the world around us, shrinking in the particular appetites of the flesh that are at odds with God's perfect will for our world: have you prioritized being a person of heavenly vision together with keeping His commandments?
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 1John 3:23
Spend some time thinking through this verse in the light of Genesis 1, Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 40:10-11, Isaiah 49:8-9, Isaiah 54:9-10, Isaiah 63:14, Jeremiah 31:27-28, Jeremiah 33:6-16, Ezekiel 34:10, Ezekiel 38:19-20, Hosea 2:18, Joel 2:21-24, Mark 4:30-32, and Romans 8:21 and sincerely try to tell yourself that you are practicing 1John 3:14-24 without living a fully conscious Isaiah 58 veganism. I sincerely don't believe you can do it if you'll bare in mind each of these Scriptures on the vastness of His provisions and the length, breadth, height, and depth of the New Testament that all of these passages point you to.
You can lift Romans 14, 1Timothy 4, and various other passages out of the context of lesser glories that were revealed by the Lord (2Corinthians 3:18), or you can decide that you are laying aside every weight and running with endurance, according to Hebrews 12:1 and are going to be His Covenant to restore the earth:
8 Thus says the LORD: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ “They shall feed along the roads, And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights. Isaiah 49:8-9
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him (or abides in what He is doing), and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1John 3:24
He's given us the Spirit of Truth and accounted us the City of Truth by His grace. We're to live on and on and on without fear and with a strong grip on restoring the earth, doing our small part to make sure all of the seed of man and the seed of animals are prosperous because He is determined to build and plant them. His building and planting of them is the diametric opposite of what Jeremiah 31:27-28 says He was formerly doing. We must abide in Him by abiding in His Word about what He is doing now.
Previous excuses for licentiousness at the expense of animals are no longer valid. Our reward is with us and our work before us, if we are in Christ Jesus and living our lives as His joint-heirs discipling the nations, restoring the earth, repairing the breach, and restoring paths to dwell in for both man and animals in the earth.
In closing, I know the minds of so many have been seriously warped by Augustinian theology, even among those who consider themselves fairly liberated from it. But let me encourage you to begin thinking of a Biblical remnant as something similar to first fruits. Because a Biblical remnant isn't what God's got left after some great judgment or controversy. Biblically, a remnant is how God begins some new age or new purpose of absolute beauty that He's unleashing or midwifing. St. Paul seemed to allude to himself and other Jewish Christians of the first century as a remnant, yet he asserted in Romans 11 that absolutely all of Israel shall be saved!
That's an important point for meditating in Zechariah 8 as you reread this article. A remnant is what He begins some new enterprise with, and not what's left after nearly everyone has rejected His will. Paul likens the remnant of his day to the remnant of Elijah's day. The remnant of Elijah's day kept hope alive until future ages when the ministry of Christ Jesus would begin.
According to Romans 11:5 a remnant is synonymous with God's elect, which are those chosen for some given purpose. They're what God begins with and not what He's left with at the end of the day. I am belaboring this point because the implication of my message is obviously that God's chosen a remnant according to Zechariah 8:11 and Isaiah 49:8-9 to walk in the fullness of His Isaiah 11:6-9 aggressive harmlessness that accompanies those who believe [all of] the Gospel, according to Mark 16:15-18. Never feel alone in walking in this Hosea 2:18 Covenant at Christ's right hand (Ephesians 2:6) because you are just the beginning of a whole new world.