God promises he will return to live in Jerusalem and bless and prosper Israel. He exhorts them to live righteous lives and to avoid corruption. Millennial Israel will be a blessing to the nations and they will seek God's favour and join in her feast days.
In chapters 7 and 8, Zechariah receives fresh revelation from God after a gap of nearly two years since his previous eight visions. Chapter 8 begins with a reaffirmation of God's zeal for Jerusalem and his anger against the nations who hurt her (v2), as earlier expressed in 1:14-15.

In verses 3 to 6, God promises to return to Zion and to live within her. He promises that the people of Zion will live to a ripe old age, and young children will play in the streets. This is a picture of peace and security. Although this would see partial fulfilment in Zechariah's day, it will ultimately be fulfilled during the Millennium (Isaiah 65:20). It is significant that when Solomon completed the first temple and brought the ark of the covenant into the most holy place, a cloud of God's glory filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10). This was a visible sign that God had taken up residence. But when the second temple was completed in 516 BC, the ark of the covenant had been lost, and there is no record of a visible sign that God had returned to live in his temple. When the Millennial temple is completed, God will again take up residence visibly as Jesus who will sit on his throne clothed in glory (Zechariah 6:13). In Ezekiel's vision of the millennial temple, the glory of God is seen to visibly return (Ezekiel 43:1-5).

In verses 9 to 10, God refers to the period of about 16 years from 536 to 520 BC during which the temple rebuilding project was abandoned, and the people focussed instead on rebuilding their own houses. During this time, God sent a drought and they had poor harvests (Ezra 4:4-5 and Haggai 1:7-11) Verse 10 says there was no compensation for man or animal, and God pitted everybody against everyone else. It was a time of frustration and disunity. But now the people had repented (Haggai 1:12-15 and Zechariah 1:6) and were once again focussed on God's temple, God promised a time of agricultural prosperity (v11-12). In verse 13 he promises that both Judah and Israel will be a blessing to the nations, not a curse. To be a blessing to all nations is Israel's calling, for which God promised the land to the descendants of Abraham in the first place (Genesis 12:2-3). The fact that the promise relates to the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as to Judah, indicates that the ultimate fulfilment of this promise will come in the end times. The northern kingdom never returned from exile, but many scriptures indicate that God will restore them in the end times and reunite them with Judah (e.g. Isaiah 11:10-16).

In verses 14 to 15, God promises to do good to Jerusalem and Judah, and not to harm them as he had done in the past when their ancestors made him angry.

Verses 16 onwards continue the theme of true fasting that began in chapter 7. Because chapter 7 is about historical events in Zechariah's day, and not about end-time events, I have not included a full commentary. But to summarise briefly, a delegation of Jews from Bethel had asked Zechariah about fasting. During their 70 year exile in Babylon, the Jewish leaders had instituted fasts in the 4th, 5th, 7th and 10th months of the year. These commemorated key events related to the siege and fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. They were acts of national repentance, intended to attract God's forgiveness, so that he might restore the nation in accordance with his promises in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Now that they had been restored to the land, the leaders wanted to know whether the fasts were still necessary. In response, Zechariah first questioned whether their fasting was really to seek God, or whether it was actually for their own benefit and improvement. Secondly he stressed the importance of obedience to God's law and of showing brotherly kindness to each other. In effect, he reminded them what Isaiah 58 says about true fasting. Continuing here in chapter 8, God stresses the importance of speaking the truth, and of practicing righteous judgments in court.

In verses 18 to 23, Zechariah prophesies that the four fasts will one day become pleasant feasts, and people will come from many cities to Jerusalem to participate. Powerful nations will seek God's favour in Jerusalem. And ten people of different languages will grab the hand of one Jew and say, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you". This will happen in the Millennium.
Places: Zion, Jerusalem
Tags: God returns to Zion, Millennial prosperity, True fasting, Nations stream to millennial Jerusalem, Israel a blessing to the nations
The Blessing of True Fasting
1 Then the message of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies came to me as follows:
2 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘I am very much concerned for Zion; indeed, I am so concerned for her that my rage will fall on those who hurt her.’
3 The Lord says, ‘I have returned to Zion and will live within Jerusalem. Now Jerusalem will be called “truthful city,” “mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,” “holy mountain.”’
4 Moreover, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘Old men and women will once more live in the plazas of Jerusalem, each one leaning on a cane because of advanced age.
5 And the streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing.
6 And,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘though such a thing may seem to be difficult in the opinion of the small community of those days, will it also appear difficult to me?’ asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
7 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies asserts, ‘I am about to save my people from the lands of the east and the west.
8 And I will bring them to settle within Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness.’
9 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies also says, ‘Gather strength, you who are listening to these words today from the mouths of the prophets who were there at the founding of the house of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, so that the temple might be built.
10 Before that time there was no compensation for man or animal, nor was there any relief from adversity for those who came and went, because I had pitted everybody – each one – against everyone else.
11 But I will be different now to this remnant of my people from the way I was in those days,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
12 ‘for there will be a peaceful time of sowing, the vine will produce its fruit, and the ground its yield, and the skies will rain down dew. Then I will allow the remnant of my people to possess all these things.
13 And it will come about that just as you (both Judah and Israel) were a curse to the nations, so I will save you and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid! Instead, be strong!’
14 “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘As I had planned to hurt you when your fathers made me angry,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘and I was not sorry,
15 so, to the contrary, I have planned in these days to do good to Jerusalem and Judah – do not fear!
16 These are the things you must do: Speak the truth, each of you, to one another. Practice true and righteous judgment in your courts.
17 Do not plan evil in your hearts against one another. Do not favor a false oath – these are all things that I hate,’ says the Lord.
18 The message of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies came to me as follows:
19 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘The fast of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become joyful and happy, pleasant feasts for the house of Judah, so love truth and peace.’
20 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘It will someday come to pass that people – residents of many cities – will come.
21 The inhabitants of one will go to another and say, “Let’s go up at once to ask the favor of the Lord, to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Indeed, I’ll go with you.”’
22 Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask his favor.
23 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘In those days ten people from all languages and nations will grasp hold of – indeed, grab – the robe of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”