Summary: Exposition of Zech. 8

God’s Passion for His People

Zech. 8

Author and pastor Max Lucado writes in his book A Gentle Thunder:

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart… Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you.

Does that sound a little farfetched to you? I mean, we all sing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”- but does He really like me that much? Is He really “crazy about you”? I wonder how many of us think of God’s love in such terms. Does He really like being around us? Does He really enjoy seeing us laugh and smile and enjoy ourselves? Is He really emotionally involved when it comes to our lives?

The answer is yes. God is passionate about His people. God is emotionally involved with His people. Or to put it in more Biblical terms, God is passionate for His people- even when they have failed Him.

When the prophet Zechariah proclaimed God’s message to Jewish exiles reconstructing the Temple in Jerusalem, he describes God’s passion for His people in beautiful words that are meant to encourage and lift up their spirits. In vs. 2, God says He is zealous/jealous for His people.

Zechariah 8:2…My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!

How is God passionate for His people? Zech. describes 4 aspects of God’s passionate love for His people:


For almost 70 years, the city of Jerusalem has been a ghost town, the Temple where once God’s Presence dwelt was nothing but rubble. Nobody would live here, the Jews thought, not even God. The dream God had once promised would never come true:

Leviticus 26:12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.

Now the exiles try to rebuild, but will it ever be the same again? Will God ever live among them again? Does He really want to? Through Zechariah God answers Yes!

God says He has returned to live with His people, to identify with them so much Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and God’s Holy Mountain (v. 3). Once again God wants the cities to be full of elderly people who walk the streets and children who aren’t afraid to play. God asks in vs. 6 is this promise too good to be true? No!

He will bring His people back to their homeland, and according to vs. 8 …they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God…

Can you hear the eager anticipation in God’s Words? This is what He longs for, what He can’t wait for. He is passionate about living in and among His people. Imagine how encouraging these words were to the Jews working on the Temple. God hasn’t abandoned us! God really does love us! He really does want to live in us and among us!

God is passionate about living in us, also.

He is passionate about living in your life. God does not want a long-distance relationship with you—He wants to walk and talk with you moment by moment, living in the awareness of His constant love and fellowship.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

He is passionate about living among us in His church. The Lord is always with us, but you and I experience Him in a special way when we gather together in His Name.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

It excites Him, it delights Him, it’s what He has always wanted—to live in and among His people. The question is: are you and I as passionate about God living in us and among us as He is? We should be.

Frank Laubach, born in the United States in 1884, was a missionary to the illiterate, teaching them to read so they could know the beauty of the Scriptures. He once wrote: Can we have that contact with God all the time? All the time awake, fall asleep in His arms, and awaken in His presence? Can we attain that? Can we do His will all the time? Can we think His thoughts all the time? … Can I bring the Lord back in my mind-flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind? I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering this question.

God is passionate about being in your life. But our Lord shows His love for us in another important truth:


God’s passionate love for us does not mean our behavior or lifestyle don’t matter to Him. Any good parent knows that one of the most important ways you show love to your children is to teach them obedience. Why are we so passionate about demanding this obedience from our kids? Not for our own good, but for their good- because we love them.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Zechariah says God is passionate about the obedience of His people.

In vs. 9-13 the Lord says to those who have been listening to the words of the Lord’s prophets keep up the good work! Let your hands be strong= keep doing what I have commanded you to do and it will eventually pay off! Obedience will produce prosperity and fruitfulness, and blessing. (v. 10-13a) God is saying when you obey Me, you will be blessed! I am passionate about your obedience not just for My sake, but for your own sake as well.

He goes on in vs. 14-15 how He punished them when they were disobedient, but now He will bless their obedience in such areas as telling the truth, promoting justice, and forgiveness of your neighbor, and not doing things the Lord hates. Why is God so passionate about their obedience? Because obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings disaster.

Let me illustrate by asking you a question: why is it important to you that your children learn to obey you? Isn’t it for their own good. Teaching your child to obey you is meant to help them learn to obey their boss, the police and law of the land, and God. That’s why parents are passionate about their kids’ obedience.

God is passionate about our obedience, not just for Himself, but for our own sake, because obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings disaster.

Ancil Jenkins shares this illustration: " ’Fasten your seat belt,’ I said to my wife, Elaine, the other day. ’It is the law, you know.’ As she fastened her seat belt, I thought, ’Dummy, that is not the reason you want her buckled up. You want her protected from the harm of any accident you might drive her into.’

God is passionate about our obedience because He loves us. Are we passionate about our obedience to Him? Do we obey Him from love, with energy and effort? This is the sure pathway to His blessing. But this passage also reminds us that


Joy is not optional in the life of a Christian: it is essential. God has no passion to see you and I miserable; He gets no glory nor satisfaction from our gloom and despair. His plan and passion are all about maximizing our joy in Him.

Vs. 18-19 refer back to the question that was asked in Zech. 7:3 about keeping up the days of mourning over the exile of Judah. The Lord basically says my passion for you is to turn your mourning into …joy and gladness and cheerful feasts…! (v. 19). God is not saying it’s sinful to be sad, or wrong to grieve, but that His passion is not to keep people sad, but to lead them out of sadness into celebration.

Psalm 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

God loves to take the depressed, the downtrodden, the sad and sorrowful and lead them into a place of joy. To be sure, He often calls us to suffering, but even then our attitude should be the same as the Lord Jesus Christ about Whom the Bible says:

Hebrews 12:2 …looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our Lord saw the joy on the other side of the suffering, and so must we. This kind of joy is not plastering a plastic smiley face on your frowns and pretending to be happier than you are—it is believing that no matter what our afflictions, our feelings, our persecutions, God’s joy is on the other side of our pain. On the night when Jesus was about to be crucified, when the disciple’s faith would fail, and their whole world would collapse, Jesus told them this:

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

That is so much easier to preach than it is to put into practice. We would rather wallow in self-pity, take a detour to the “down in the dumps” side of town, or just give up. I’m sure the exiles Zechariah spoke to often felt the same way. What they needed to realize is what you and I need to realize: God is passionate about our joy. He wants to give us joy that overcomes sorrow, that dries our eyes and fills our souls with a song, no matter what’s going on around us. He is passionate about giving us His joy; are we as passionate about receiving His joy?

A man had just had his annual physical exam and was waiting for the doctor’s initial report. After a few minutes the doctor came in with his charts in his hand and said, "There’s no reason why you can’t live a completely normal life as long as you don’t try to enjoy it."

But that’s just the point- God wants us to enjoy life! He is passionate about our joy. Will you take the joy He offers you? One last passion of our God is mentioned here:


One of the blind spots for the Jews in the OT is still a blind spot for many Christians today: God saves you so you can lead other people to Him. The Jews were so proud they were God’s people, and looked down on Gentiles as little more than dogs. Today Christians think God saves them so they can enjoy life down here and go to heaven and get away from all those awful unbelievers. But the fact is God promised Abraham that His descendants were to be a blessing to those Gentile dogs. And God saved you and I so we could lead those awful sinners to come to Christ and be saved. Zechariah’s words here tell us God is passionate about our evangelism.

In vs. 20 God says Hey guys! This party isn’t just for you! Peoples= Gentiles from other nations will be there. These people will be invited by others (…the inhabitants of other cities…- vs. 21) to come to Jerusalem and worship the Lord. Notice the word many in vs. 22- not just a few, but many of these Gentiles- people from every language of the nations, v. 23-will beg the Jews to help them find God. You can’t help but think about John’s song sung in heaven to the Lord:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

God makes it clear throughout the Bible that He wants to use His people to bring outsiders to Himself. God is passionate about our evangelism.

But we are not passionate about evangelism, are we? Oh we’d like to see our family and a few of our friends saved, but what about the rest of the world? What about the people in our neighborhood? What about the people in other cities, other states, other countries? Is there any passion in our hearts to do whatever we can to win them to Christ? I’m not trying to be harsh, but for the most part the answer is “No.” Winning the lost is not high on our list of priorities- either as individuals or as a church. But God is very passionate about seeking and saving the lost—and He wants you and I to become passionate about it, too.

What would it take to make us more passionate? I’m really not sure about the answer to that question. But I do want to leave this one point for you and I to ponder: if Jesus came all the way from heaven to die for sinners, shouldn’t you and I be willing to do all we can to reach them for Him?

There is a legend that recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there. Do they know and appreciate how much you loved them and what you did for them?" Jesus replied, "Oh, no! Not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know." Gabriel was perplexed. He asked, "Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?" Jesus said, "I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell others about me. Those who are told will tell others, in turn, about me. And my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done." Gabriel, knowing what poor stuff men were made of, said, "Yes, but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the 21st century people just don’t tell others about you? Haven’t you made any other plans?" And Jesus answered, "I haven’t made any other plans. I’m counting on them."

Are we as passionate about evangelism as Jesus is?

God loves you and I passionately. He loves us so passionately He wants to live in us and among us: He loves us so passionately He demands our obedience; He love us so passionately He promises us joy; He loves us so passionately that He allows us to join Him in the most important work in the universe: bringing outsiders to Him. God loves you passionately; do you love Him passionately? Do you love Him enough to fellowship with Him, to obey Him, to be joyful always, to win the lost? May the Lord’s passion inspire us to live passionately for Him.