…And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.
The beginning of chapter 8 has Zechariah giving more of “the word of the Lord of hosts” to the Jews (8:1). God “was jealous for Zion with great jealousy…(and) great wrath” (8:2). The Bible repeatedly speaks of the jealousy of God (Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 6:15; et al). His jealousy is not petty, but instead is justifiable in the same way any spouse would be jealous of their mate sharing their bed with someone else or any employer would demand that his employee give all his service to him and no one else while on the clock. Our Lord wants the totality of our allegiance and loyalty, brethren, just as He wanted all of the Jews’ devotion. Lukewarmness – divided loyalty – is sickening to God and brings on His wrath (cf. Rev. 3:15-16; Rom. 1:18ff). It would therefore do us good, Christians, to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5), find the areas in our lives which perhaps are not completely given over to the will of God, and make the necessary changes with penitent hearts.
Zechariah then announced that the Lord had “returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain” (8:3). He promised that “old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (8:4-5), before rhetorically stating that all of this would be both “marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days” and “marvelous in my sight” (8:6). He then promised to “save my people from the east country and from the west country,” and “bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” where “they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and righteousness” (8:7-8).
The first and more immediate fulfillment of this prophecy was seen in God’s allowance of the Jews to return to Jerusalem from their captivity. No longer would the Jews practice pagan idolatry, and they would follow the Lord “in faithfulness and righteousness.” Therefore, He returned to them and would be their God, also “in faithfulness and righteousness” as is in keeping with His nature. He would save His people “from the east country and from the west country.” The biblical usage of “east and west” tends to refer figuratively to the whole world (cf. Matt. 8:11). Thus, God is saying that He would save the Jews all over the world (cf. Is. 11:11ff). We see an example of his providence saving the Jews from genocidal extinction in Persia in the book of Esther. The peaceful setting of Jerusalem in which “old men and old women” would sit in her streets while “boys and girls” would play nearby would certainly be “marvelous” both to God and to the “remnant” of the Jews who came out of captivity in a foreign land to experience it (“remnant” being used to describe those who had returned to Judea since a good number of the Jews had remained in Persia, as also seen in Esther).
The second and more complete fulfillment would come with Christ’s church, of which Jerusalem is a copy (Heb. 12:22-23; cf. Rev. 21:2ff) and among whom God dwells (2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3). Only a “remnant” of the Jews would be part of His church and thus experience the “marvelous” blessings found within it, the majority having rejected Jesus as the Messiah (Rom. 11:5ff). Yet under the new covenant God’s people would not be limited to the nation of Israel. The gospel would be “proclaimed…to all nations” (Lk. 24:47; cf. Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8), resulting in the Gentiles “from the east country and from the west country” (i.e., all over the world – Matt. 8:11) being considered God’s people too and receiving salvation as He brings them “to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” (His church), where “they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and righteousness.”