Zechariah 8-14 The Message Bible

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The Restoration of Jerusalem Promised

8 1  And then these Messages from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 2  "I am zealous for Zion - I care! I'm angry about Zion - I'm involved!" 3  "I've come back to Zion, I've moved back to Jerusalem. Jerusalem's new names will be Truth City, and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and Mount Holiness." 4  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 5  And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing - a good city to grow up in." 6  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say." 7  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 8  I'll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They'll be my people and I'll be their God. I'll stick with them and do right by them."

9  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:"Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. 10  We've come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp. 11  "But things have changed. I'm taking the side of my core of surviving people: 12  Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green. 13  You've gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I'm coming to save you. From now on, you're the good-news people. Don't be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I'm doing." Keep Your Lives Simple and Honest 14  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 15  at this time I've decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don't be afraid. 16  And now here's what I want you to do: Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. 17  Don't cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don't do or say what isn't so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest." Decree of God.

18  Again I received a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 19  "The days of mourning set for the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be turned into days of feasting for Judah - celebration and holiday. Embrace truth! Love peace!" 20  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 21  The leaders will confer with one another: 'Shouldn't we try to get in on this? Get in on God's blessings? Pray to God-of-the-Angel-Armies? What's keeping us? Let's go!' 22  "Lots of people, powerful nations - they'll come to Jerusalem looking for what they can get from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, looking to get a blessing from God." 23  A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "At that time, ten men speaking a variety of languages will grab the sleeve of one Jew, hold tight, and say, 'Let us go with you. We've heard that God is with you.'"

The Judgment on Neighboring Nations

9 1  War Bulletin: God's Message challenges the country of Hadrach. It will settle on Damascus. The whole world has its eyes on God. Israel isn't the only one. 2  That includes Hamath at the border, and Tyre and Sidon, clever as they think they are. 3  Tyre has put together quite a kingdom for herself; she has stacked up silver like cordwood, piled gold high as haystacks. 4  But God will certainly bankrupt her; he will dump all that wealth into the ocean and burn up what's left in a big fire. 5  Ashkelon will see it and panic, Gaza will wring its hands, Ekron will face a dead end. Gaza's king will die. Ashkelon will be emptied out, 6  And a villain will take over in Ashdod. "I'll take proud Philistia down a peg: 7  I'll make him spit out his bloody booty and abandon his vile ways." What's left will be all God's - a core of survivors, a family brought together in Judah - But enemies like Ekron will go the way of the Jebusites, into the dustbin of history. 8  "I will set up camp in my home country and defend it against invaders. Nobody is going to hurt my people ever again. I'm keeping my eye on them. A Humble King Riding a Donkey

Zion's Future King

9  "Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion! Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming! a good king who makes all things right, a humble king riding a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey. 10  I've had it with war - no more chariots in Ephraim, no more war horses in Jerusalem, no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations, a peaceful rule worldwide, from the four winds to the seven seas. 11  "And you, because of my blood covenant with you, I'll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells.

12  Come home, hope-filled prisoners! This very day I'm declaring a double bonus - everything you lost returned twice-over! 13  Judah is now my weapon, the bow I'll pull, setting Ephraim as an arrow to the string. I'll wake up your sons, O Zion, to counter your sons, O Greece. From now on people are my swords." 14  Then God will come into view, his arrows flashing like lightning! Master God will blast his trumpet and set out in a whirlwind. 15  God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them - all-out war, The war to end all wars, no holds barred. 16  Their God will save the day. He'll rescue them. They'll become like sheep, gentle and soft, Or like gemstones in a crown, catching all the colors of the sun. 17  Then how they'll shine! shimmer! glow! the young men robust, the young women lovely!

The LORD's Redemption of His People

10 1  Pray to God for rain - it's time for the spring rain - to God, the rainmaker, Spring thunderstorm maker, maker of grain and barley. 2  "Store-bought gods babble gibberish. Religious experts spout rubbish. They pontificate hot air. Their prescriptions are nothing but smoke. And so the people wander like lost sheep, poor lost sheep without a shepherd. 3  I'm furious with the so-called shepherds. They're worse than billy goats, and I'll treat them like goats." God-of-the-Angel-Armies will step in and take care of his flock, the people of Judah. He'll revive their spirits, make them proud to be on God's side. 4  God will use them in his work of rebuilding, use them as foundations and pillars, Use them as tools and instruments, use them to oversee his work.

5  They'll be a workforce to be proud of, working as one, their heads held high, striding through swamps and mud, Courageous and vigorous because God is with them, undeterred by the world's thugs. 6  "I'll put muscle in the people of Judah; I'll save the people of Joseph. I know their pain and will make them good as new. They'll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened. And why? Because I am their very own God, I'll do what needs to be done for them. 7  The people of Ephraim will be famous, their lives brimming with joy. Their children will get in on it, too - oh, let them feel blessed by God! 8  I'll whistle and they'll all come running. I've set them free - oh, how they'll flourish! 9  Even though I scattered them to the far corners of earth, they'll remember me in the faraway places. They'll keep the story alive in their children, and they will come back. 10  I'll bring them back from the Egyptian west and round them up from the Assyrian east. I'll bring them back to sweet Gilead, back to leafy Lebanon. Every square foot of land will be marked by homecoming. 11  They'll sail through troubled seas, brush aside brash ocean waves. Roaring rivers will turn to a trickle. Gaudy Assyria will be stripped bare, bully Egypt exposed as a fraud. 12  But my people - oh, I'll make them strong, God-strong! and they'll live my way." God says so!

11 1  Open your borders to the immigrants, proud Lebanon! Your sentinel trees will burn. 2  Weep, great pine trees! Mourn, you sister cedars! Your towering trees are cordwood. Weep Bashan oak trees! Your thick forest is now a field of stumps. 3  Do you hear the wailing of shepherds? They've lost everything they once owned. Do you hear the outrage of the lions? The mighty jungle of the Jordan is wasted.

The Foolish Shepherds

4  Make room for the returning exiles! Breaking the Beautiful Covenant 5  The people who buy them will butcher them for quick and easy money. What's worse, they'll get away with it. The people who sell them will say, 'Lucky me! God's on my side; I've got it made!' They have shepherds who couldn't care less about them." 6  God's Decree: "I'm washing my hands of the people of this land. From now on they're all on their own. It's dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, and the devil take the hindmost. Don't look for help from me." 7  So I took over from the crass, money-grubbing owners, and shepherded the sheep marked for slaughter. I got myself two shepherd staffs. I named one Lovely and the other Harmony. Then I went to work shepherding the sheep. 8  Within a month I got rid of the corrupt shepherds. I got tired of putting up with them - and they couldn't stand me. 9  And then I got tired of the sheep and said, "I've had it with you - no more shepherding from me. If you die, you die; if you're attacked, you're attacked. Whoever survives can eat what's left." 10  Then I took the staff named Lovely and broke it across my knee, breaking the beautiful covenant I had made with all the peoples. 11  In one stroke, both staff and covenant were broken. The money-hungry owners saw me do it and knew God was behind it. 12  Then I addressed them: "Pay me what you think I'm worth." They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins. 13  God told me, "Throw it in the poor box." This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work! So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God's Temple.

15  God then said, "Dress up like a stupid shepherd. 16  I'm going to install just such a shepherd in this land - a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He'll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all. 17  "Doom to you, useless shepherd, walking off and leaving the sheep! A curse on your arm! A curse on your right eye! Your arm will hang limp and useless. Your right eye will go stone blind." 114  Then I broke the other staff, Harmony, across my knee, breaking the concord between Judah and Israel.

The Future Deliverance of Jerusalem

12 1  War Bulletin: 2  "Watch for this: I'm about to turn Jerusalem into a cup of strong drink that will have the people who have set siege to Judah and Jerusalem staggering in a drunken stupor. 3  "On the Big Day, I'll turn Jerusalem into a huge stone blocking the way for everyone. All who try to lift it will rupture themselves. All the pagan nations will come together and try to get rid of it. 4  "On the Big Day" - this is God speaking - "I'll throw all the war horses into a crazed panic, and their riders along with them. But I'll keep my eye on Judah, watching out for her at the same time that I make the enemy horses go blind. 5  The families of Judah will then realize, 'Why, our leaders are strong and able through God-of-the-Angel-Armies, their personal God.' 6  "On the Big Day, I'll turn the families of Judah into something like a burning match in a tinder-dry forest, like a fiercely flaming torch in a barn full of hay. They'll burn up everything and everyone in sight - people to the right, people to the left - while Jerusalem fills up with people moving in and making themselves at home - home again in Jerusalem. 7  "I, God, will begin by restoring the common households of Judah so that the glory of David's family and the leaders in Jerusalem won't overshadow the ordinary people in Judah. 8  On the Big Day, I'll look after everyone who lives in Jerusalem so that the lowliest, weakest person will be as glorious as David and the family of David itself will be godlike, like the Angel of God leading the people.

9  "On the Big Day, I'll make a clean sweep of all the godless nations that fought against Jerusalem. 10  "Next I'll deal with the family of David and those who live in Jerusalem. I'll pour a spirit of grace and prayer over them. They'll then be able to recognize me as the One they so grievously wounded - that piercing spear-thrust! And they'll weep - oh, how they'll weep! Deep mourning as of a parent grieving the loss of the firstborn child. 11  The lamentation in Jerusalem that day will be massive, as famous as the lamentation over Hadad-Rimmon on the fields of Megiddo: 12  Everyone will weep and grieve, the land and everyone in it: The family of David off by itself and their women off by themselves; The family of Nathan off by itself and their women off by themselves; 13  The family of Levi off by itself and their women off by themselves; The family of Shimei off by itself and their women off by themselves; 14  And all the rest of the families off by themselves and their women off by themselves.

13 1  "On the Big Day, a fountain will be opened for the family of David and all the leaders of Jerusalem for washing away their sins, for scrubbing their stained and soiled lives clean. 2  "On the Big Day" - this is God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking - "I will wipe out the store-bought gods, erase their names from memory. People will forget they ever heard of them. And I'll get rid of the prophets who polluted the air with their diseased words. 3  If anyone dares persist in spreading diseased, polluting words, his very own parents will step in and say, 'That's it! You're finished! Your lies about God put everyone in danger,' and then they'll stab him to death in the very act of prophesying lies about God - his own parents, mind you! 4  "On the Big Day, the lying prophets will be publicly exposed and humiliated. Then they'll wish they'd never swindled people with their 'visions.' No more masquerading in prophet clothes. 5  But they'll deny they've even heard of such things: 'Me, a prophet? Not me. I'm a farmer - grew up on the farm.' 6  And if someone says, 'And so where did you get that black eye?' they'll say, 'I ran into a door at a friend's house.'

The Smiting of the LORD's Shepherd

7  "Sword, get moving against my shepherd, against my close associate!" Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. "Kill the shepherd! Scatter the sheep! The back of my hand against even the lambs! 8  All across the country" - God's Decree - "two-thirds will be devastated and one-third survive. 9  I'll deliver the surviving third to the refinery fires. I'll refine them as silver is refined, test them for purity as gold is tested. Then they'll pray to me by name and I'll answer them personally. I'll say, 'That's my people.' They'll say, 'God - my God!'"

Jerusalem and the Nations

14 1  Note well: God's Judgment Day is on the way: "Plunder will be piled high and handed out. 2  I'm bringing all the godless nations to war against Jerusalem - Houses plundered, women raped, Half the city taken into exile, the other half left behind." 3  But then God will march out against the godless nations and fight - a great war! 4  That's the Day he'll take his stand on the Mount of Olives, facing Jerusalem from the east. The Mount of Olives will be split right down the middle, from east to west, leaving a wide valley. Half the mountain will shift north, the other half south. 5  Then you will run for your lives down the valley, your escape route that will take you all the way to Azal. You'll run for your lives, just as you ran on the day of the great earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah. Then my God will arrive and all the holy angels with him. 6  What a Day that will be! No more cold nights - in fact, no more nights! 7  The Day is coming - the timing is God's - when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning.

8  What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter! 9  God will be king over all the earth, one God and only one. What a Day that will be! 10  The land will stretch out spaciously around Jerusalem - to Geba in the north and Rimmon in the south, with Jerusalem towering at the center, and the commanding city gates - Gate of Benjamin to First Gate to Corner Gate to Hananel Tower to the Royal Winery - ringing the city 11  full of people. Never again will Jerusalem be totally destroyed. From now on it will be a safe city. 12  But this is what will happen to all who fought against Jerusalem: God will visit them with a terrible plague. People's flesh will rot off their bones while they are walking around; their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues in their mouths; people will be dying on their feet! 13  Mass hysteria when that happens - total panic! Fellow soldiers fighting and killing each other - holy terror! 14  And then Judah will jump into the fray! 15  The plague will also hit the animals - horses, mules, camels, donkeys. Everything alive in the military camps will be hit by the plague.

16  All the survivors from the godless nations that fought against Jerusalem will travel to Jerusalem every year to worship the King, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17  If any of these survivors fail to make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship the King, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, there will be no rain. 18  If the Egyptians don't make the pilgrimage and worship, there will be no rain for them. Every nation that does not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths will be hit with the plague. 19  Egypt and any other nation that does not make pilgrimage to celebrate the Feast of Booths gets punished. 20  On that Day, the Big Day, all the horses' harness bells will be inscribed "Holy to God." The cooking pots in the Temple of God will be as sacred as chalices and plates on the altar. 21  In fact, all the pots and pans in all the kitchens of Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. People who come to worship, preparing meals and sacrifices, will use them. On that Big Day there will be no buying or selling in the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

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