59. Did Zechariah fail to predict the fate of the second temple? (Zechariah 9:8)

If the Bible is the product of divine inspiration, then there should be no failed prophecies, and many Christians claim there are none.

Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose and a guiding hand behind the Bible. If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future.
—Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, CARM.org

But if the Bible is not divinely inspired, then we should find evidence of prophetic failures, which may be getting downplayed or reinterpreted by believers whose confirmation bias causes them to remember the hits and forget (or reinterpret) the misses.

Thus far, I’ve only looked at prophecies that believers claim have come to pass, but I would also like to look at several prophecies that appear to have failed.

One such apparent failure is found in Zechariah chapter nine, which is most famous for it’s prediction about the messiah arriving on a colt (which we’ll visit next). Immediately before the famous donkey prophecy is a prediction about the second temple and the Jewish people, one that is every bit as intriguing, but doesn’t get as much play from the pulpit.

Introducing Zechariah

The book of Zachariah contains a message of hope written to a Jewish remnant that had recently returned from exile. Zechariah encourages them with his visions from the Lord, whereby God urges them to regroup and rebuild his temple in Jerusalem, which was ordered by King Cyrus (in 538 BCE). 

This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.
—Ezra 1:2-3

The Jews were certainly motivated to return and rebuild, but they surely must’ve felt uneasy over what might become of this new temple. If God allowed the first temple to be destroyed, would the same fate befall the second temple as well?

With the first temple, God did warn that he would reject it if his people turned away from him (1 Kings 9:6-7). But this time, God promised, things would be different. 

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’… I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me, says the Lord Almighty, so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah.”
—Zechariah 8:9-15

God reassured the remnant that he would show mercy and take pity on them, and not bring about the disasters he had brought upon their ancestors. God also promised that this new temple would be even greater than the first, and that it would mark the beginning of a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity.

The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,‘ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
—Haggai 2:9

 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuiltMy towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”
—Zechariah 1:16-17

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.
—Zechariah 8:4-5

And now, the prophecy in question

As if that wasn’t enough good news, starting in Zechariah 9, God also lists all the enemies of Israel that he’s going to pass judgement upon. After delivering that list, he drops this epic prophetic bombshell:

But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my peoplefor now I am keeping watch.
—Zechariah 9:8 (NIV)

Never again?

The King James translates it a bit differently:

And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.
—Zechariah 9:8 (KJV)

So after having encouraged them to rebuild and promising to “grant peace” and “prosperity,” God also promises that “never again” will any “marauding forces” overrun them “any more.” Things were finally looking up for the Jews.

But in reality, Jerusalem was soon overrun by the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, who utterly destroyed the second temple in 70 CE (roughly 586 years after it was completed).

The Jews believed God’s promise, and spent 23 years rebuilding the temple, but it was eventually destroyed… again. Why didn’t God keep his promise? And how should the faithful interpret this apparent failure of prophecy?

A dual meaning?

When a passage has an implicit literal meaning, but Christians would like it to be about something else, they often claim it has a dual meaning (e.g. a literal and a spiritual meaning), and we’ve seen this card played before.

But here, the literal interpretation results in a failed prophecy, because the temple (and Jerusalem) were overrun.

As tempting as it may be, there’s no escaping that God has requested a literal temple to be built, and not a spiritual one (see Zech. 1:16, 4:9, 6:14-15, 8:9; Ezra 1:2, 5:2, 6:142 Chron. 36:22-23, and Haggai 2:1-9). God has requested a literal temple, and promised to protect that same literal temple.

So if we must take this verse literally, but the prophecy failed, how does the believer remedy this failure? That depends on who you ask.

Was God only speaking of Alexander the Great?

640px-AlexanderTheGreat_BustI found several believers contending that “him that passes by” is a literal prediction about Alexander the Great, who would later pass by without attacking Jerusalem.

While the Syrians, Phoenicians, and Philistines would be overrun by the invader from the north (Alexander the Great), Yahweh promised to “encamp around my house,” i.e., the temple, the family, the kingdom of Israel. This protection would be necessary “because of the one passing and the one returning.” Alexander bypassed Jerusalem on his way to Egypt in 332 BC. He later returned through Palestine without doing harm to the holy city. The clause “an oppressor shall not again cross over and against them” is very difficult. Probably the best solution is to regard the reference to be Alexander’s invasion. The Macedonian would never again come into the land of Judah.
The Minor Prophets, James E. Smith, p. 578

I appreciate that Smith sticks to a literal interpretation that promises literal protection of the Jews and the temple. The problem is that God also promises that “no oppressor shall pass through them any more,” which Mr. Smith admits is a “very difficult” problem.

Rather than count this prophecy a failure, he suggests God’s promise of protection was limited to just Alexander the Great. In other words, what God was really saying was, “I will encamp at my temple to guard it against Alexander the Great. Never again will Alexander the Great overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.”

Offering protection against one oppressor isn’t any protection at all, since it’s only a matter of time before the next oppressor comes a knockin’.

Even if Smith is right, then God has deceived the remnant by leading them to believe he will be encamped there and protecting them from all oppressors, not just one. God had been reassuring them that they had nothing to worry about, and that they should rebuild, because soon there would be peace, and their temple would continue to be secure. This is the picture God paints, not a future where the temple is destroyed and Jerusalem is overrun.

Did the Jews not read the end user license agreement?

One other literal interpretation suggests that God was no longer obligated to keep up his end of the deal, because the Jews failed to live up to some conditions that God may have set forth, and this ended God’s guarantee of protection.

This too is unsatisfying, because God promised that this time things would be different, and from the Jewish standpoint, nothing was different. God did not take pity on them as he had promised, but their temple was destroyed, their nation overrun, and they once again became a scattered people.

Even if we assume that God had legitimate reasons for voiding his contract with the Jews, this interpretation still makes a liar out of God, since he said they would never again be overrun. When God said this, he knew damn well it wasn’t true. Because God knows the future, he knew the Jews would end up disappointing him, and that he would eventually let them be overrun. Even if God didn’t know the future, he should not have made a promise if he was unable to keep it.

From literal to figurative?

Other believers are a bit more sneaky, and try to get around the literal implications by claiming only the first half of the verse is literal.

In other words, when God says, “I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces,” he is being literal. But when he says, Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,” he is speaking figuratively. 

My first objection to this is that these two sentences are inseparable (some translations don’t even divide them into two sentences). God is encamping in the temple so that he can forever guard it and Jerusalem against marauding forces that may try to overrun them. The second sentence extends the promise made in the first, and there’s no indication that God has gone from a literal promise to a figurative one.

My second objection is that the Jewish remnant, to whom this message was directed, has no reason to read the second half figuratively. The reader would simply assume that God is offering his reassurance that the new temple will stand forever, because God is now encamping within it. If God doesn’t mean this, then God has intentionally misled these men, because his change from literal to figurative was imperceptible, and he didn’t bother to clarify.

But if we still want to assume a figurative meaning, what was God really trying to say? Since it’s figurative, the explanations are only limited to one’s imagination, but here are two examples.

The people being protected were Christians, not Jews

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible goes along with the idea that the first part of verse 8 speaks to Alexander the Great, but then says the second half can’t be taken literally. How do we know it wasn’t supposed to be taken literally? Well… because it failed.

“This shows that this prophecy is not to be literally understood, since it is certain, that, after the delivery, of it, there were oppressors or exactors among the Jews in a literal sense…”
John Gills Exposition of the Bible

So… if a prophecy comes to pass, you know God meant it literally, but if it doesn’t, you know God must’ve been speaking figuratively. Either way, the prophecy is never wrong.

According to Gills, God was not speaking about ongoing protection for the Jews or the temple, God was secretly referring to the future followers of Christ. And the oppressors? Well… those are the accusers who claim Christians are still guilty of sin, when they are not, because Jesus has saved them. They “oppress” them with their false accusations. (Yes, seriously.)

Let’s read that verse again.

But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.
—Zechariah 9:8

Paineful QuoteNo Jew living at that time would’ve read this and said, “This is obviously about the future messiah having to die as a sin offering, so that no one can ‘overrun’ us with verbal accusations of guilt when we are guilt-free!” No, they would’ve said, “This is God’s promise to protect us and the temple from ever being overrun again!” Gills interpretation is textbook eisegesis; entirely unsupported by the original text and a byproduct of Christian bias.

Again, even if we were to entertain Gills’ self-delusion, he has made a deceiver out of God, who knows full well how the Jews will receive this verse, and God never bothers to clarify.

Was God speaking of the future?

Next, there are believers like Steven J. Cole who attempt to salvage the second “difficult” half of this prophecy by making it about the distant future.

By the way, as with many biblical prophecies, verse 8 spans the centuries. The first part was fulfilled when Alexander spared Jerusalem. The last part, that no oppressor will pass over Jerusalem any more, remains to be fulfilled when Israel’s Messiah returns in power and glory.
Steven J. Cole, Bible.org

So… what God was really trying to say was, “I’m going to encamp here now, offer protection against Alexander the Great, but then stop protecting you for several thousand years (at least), and then I’ll protect you again!” Well… that’s reassuring.

BillOnce again, if we assume Cole is right, God has misled the Jews, who would’ve assumed God was going to encamp at the new temple and continuously protect it from that day forward. This is what the passage implies, and there was no reason for them to think that God would stop his protection and then restart it. What’s the point of God even encamping there if he’s not going to offer continuous protection?

God’s encampment and his ongoing protection go hand-in-hand, and the verse says nothing indicating God is going to hit the pause button for several thousand years.


There is no consensus among Christians as to how to resolve this difficult problem, and no matter how believers try to spin this one, God ends up intentionally deceiving the Jews. He either deceives them by 1) leading them to believe that he will protect them from all enemies, when he only meant one (Alexander the Great); 2) saying they will “never again” be overrun, when he knows they will be; 3) letting them think he will protect them and the temple, when he was actually referring to the Christian church; or 4) letting them think he would offer continuous protection, when he really meant on-again-off-again protection.

This prophecy is not difficult to understand, not if you allow for the possibility that the Bible was written by ordinary men who were unable to predict the future. Accepting this possibility, we are free to read and understand this verse for what it plainly says.

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17 Responses to 59. Did Zechariah fail to predict the fate of the second temple? (Zechariah 9:8)

  1. BIGFOOT says:

    My contention, is that there was a problem regarding the Jews, and their understanding of their role as the “Chosen Race” Their choice was not exclusively because they were.Jews, but because of their obedience to Yahweh. And Yahweh required that the Jews obey Him, so that the rest of the nations, and the world, would come to know Yahweh, as the Only True God, and thus worship Him.
    “Thus says Israel King, and his redeemer, Yahweh Saboath; I am the First, and the Last. There is no other god besides me. Who is like me? Let him stand and speak. Let him show himself and argue it before me. Who, from the beginning foretold the future? Let them (other gods) tell us what is yet to come. Have no fear, do not be afraid, have I not told and revealed it a long ago?” Isaiah 44:7-8
    This is what they were supposed to teach the Nations of the World, because its the promised that Yahweh gave their Father Abraham.
    ” Yahweh said to Abraham, Leave your country, your family and your fathers’ house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name so famous, that it will be used as a blessing. ‘I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by you” Genesis 12: 1-4

    Nations shall bless themselves when they come to know Yahweh through Abraham’s descendants, Israel. They were to be “Kingdom of Priests” for Yahweh, a Chosen Nation who worshiped Yahweh correctly, thus showing the rest of the world, why they were wrong with their false idols. Its as Moses warned them.
    “You have seen for yourselves what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you away on eagle’s wings and brought you to me. So now, if you really are prepared to obey me, and keep my covenant, you , out of all people, shall be my personal possession, for the whole world is mine. For me, you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” Those are the words you are to say to the Israelites. Exodus 19: 2-6.

    This the role that was confirmed by prophet after prophet, and even Kings. Dedicating the first Temple, Solomon prayed;
    “May Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our ancestor; may he never desert us or cast us off. May he turn our hearts towards him so that we ma follow all his ways and keep the commandments and laws and ordinances which he gave to our ancestor. May these words of mine, of my entreaty before Yahweh, be present with Yahweh our God, day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of Israel his people, as each day requires, so that all the people of the earth may come to know that Yahweh is God, indeed and that there is no other” 1st Kings 8:57-60

    Yahweh repeats this role, through the prophets
    “If you return O Israel, says the Lord, to me, you should return. If you remove your abominations from my presence, and do not waver, and swears ‘As Lord live’ in truth justice and uprightness, the nations bless themselves in Him and in Him shall be the glory” Jeremiah 4:1-4

    Here, Yahweh shows that He is not interested in return of Israel to Judah, but to Himself

    However again and again, Israel went against God’s commandment. and Yahweh surrendered them to the fruits of their wickedness.

    “Have you not brought this on yourself by abandoning Yahweh your God? What is the good of going to Egypt now, to drink water of the Nile? What is good of going to Assyria to drink water of a river? Your own wickedness is punishing you, your own apostasies are rebuking you: consider carefully how evil and bitter it is, to abandon Yahweh your God, and not stand in awe of me- Its Yahweh Saboath who speaks” Jeremiah 2:14-19

    Yahweh eventually decided to abandon them, because they had abandoned Him.

    “The Lord then said; Because this people approach me only with words, honor me only with lip service, while their hearts are far fro me, the reverence for me, as far as they are concerned is nothing but human commandments, a lesson memorized, very well, I shall have to go one astounding this people with prodigies and wonders: for the wisdom of its wise men is doomed, the understanding of any who understands will vanish.” Isaiah 29: 13-14.

    Yahweh had to fulfill his promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and David.

    What could he do? He told them that He would send a Warrior for Justice
    ;‘I have given strength to a warrior, I have raised up a man chosen for my people. I have found David my servant, and anointed him with my oil. My hand will always be with him, my arm will make him strong. No enemy will be able to outwit him, no wicked man overcome him; I shall crush his enemies before him, strike his opponents dead. My constancy and faithful love will be with him, in my name his strength will be triumphant. I shall establish his power over the sea, his dominion over the rivers. He will cry to me, “You are my Father, my God, the rock of my salvation. So, I shall make him my firstborn, the highest of earthily kings. I shall maintain my faithful love for him always, my covenant with him will stay firm. I have established his dynasty for ever, his throne to be lasting as heavens. Should his descendants desert my law, and not keep my commandments, then I shall punish their offenses with rod, their guilt with the whip, but I shall never withdraw from him, my faithful love, I shall not belie my constancy. I shall not violate my covenant, I shall not withdraw the word once spoken. I have sworn by my holiness, once and for all, never will I break faith with David. His dynasty shall endure forever, his throne like the Sun before me, as the moon is established for ever, a faithful witness in the sky’ Psalms 89: 19-37 .

    This Warrior for Justice, was to come with The Spirit of Yahweh, so he would also be Yahweh as a Man. This is Yahweh prophesying about his coming.

    “Sing, rejoice, daughter of Zion, for now, I am coming to live amongst you-Yahweh declares! And on that day, many nations will be converted to Yahweh. Yes, they will become his people, and they will live amongst you. Then, you will know that Yahweh Saboath has sent me to you!’ Zechariah 2:14-15

    This is Yahweh prophesying he would send a messenger warning of His coming

    “ When you say; ‘Any evildoer is good as far as Yahweh is concerned; indeed he likes them best; or when you say. “Where is the God of justice now?” Look, am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are looking for will suddenly enter the Temple, and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for , yes, he is coming, says Yahweh Saboath” Malachi 2:1-4

    Here, a definite time line is given.

    ‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city, for putting away transgressions, for placing the seal on sin, for expiating crime, for introducing everlasting integrity, for setting the seal on vision and prophecy, for anointing the Holy of Holies. Know then, and understand: from the time this message went out, “Return and rebuild Jerusalem” to the coming of the anointed prince, seven weeks and sixty two weeks, with squares and ramparts restore and rebuild, but in a time of trouble. And after sixty two weeks, an anointed one will be cut of- and …will not be for him- the city and the sanctuary will be destroyed, by a prince who will come. His end will come in catastrophe, and until the end, there will be war and all the devastation decreed. He will make firm covenant with many, for the space of one week, and for the space of one and a half week, he will put a stop to sacrifice and oblation, and on the wing of the temple, will be disastrous abomination until the end, until the doom assigned to the devastator.” Daniel 9:24-27

    These weeks ended, with the stoning of Stephen, after the Resurrection of the Christ. So, why did Yahweh not protect the second Temple? Because he was Rejected by the Jews; Yahweh (Christ) came to rule His people, Mankind, but the Jews rejected Him, in spite of the miracles. Just as He said; “ If I had not come, if I had not spoken to them, they would have been blameless; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me hates my Father. If I had not performed such works amongst them as no one else ever done, they would be blameless; but as it is, in spite of what they have seen, they hate both me and my Father. But all this was only to fulfill the words in their Law: They hated me without reason” John 15: 22-25.
    He also warned that the temple would be destroyed, just as Daniel had been told;
    “And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But he answered and said unto them, ‘You see all of these things, do you not? Truly I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2)

    And just as in the wilderness the Israelite wandered for forty years, because of their disobedience, and given a chance to repent, Yahweh gave the Jews, Fourty Years, to recognize His Savant Jesus, by rejecting their sacrifices every year during Annual ceremony of The Day of Atonement
    “Our Rabbis taught: During the last fourty years before destruction of the Temple the lot (For the Lord) did not come up in the right hand; nor did the Crimson strap become white; nor did the west most light shine; and the doors of the Hekal (Temple) would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b Zakkai rebuked them saying; Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer theyself? I know about thee that thou will be destroyed, for Zachariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee; Open thy doors O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars” (Babylonian Talmud Tracate Yoma 39b, Soncino Press)

    “This too is unsatisfying, because God promised that this time things would be different, and from the Jewish standpoint, nothing was different. God did not take pity on them as he had promised, but their temple was destroyed, their nation overrun, and they once again became a scattered people.”

    This should take you to the promised of the New Heaven and New Earth
    “Whoever blesses himself on earth will bless Himself by the God of truth, and whoever swears an oath on earth, will swear by the God of Truth, for past troubles will be forgotten, and hidden from my eyes. For look, I am going to create a new heaven, and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered and will come no more to mind. Rather be joyful, be glad for ever at what I am creating, for look, I am creating Jerusalem to be ‘Joy’ and my people to be ‘Gladness’ I shall be full of joy in Jerusalem, and I shall rejoice in my people. Isaiah 65:16-20

    So, this promise happened for the Jewish prophets, kings, priests and common people who had obeyed God, lived holy lives, and thus were resurrected by the Christ, when He appeared in the wold of the dead, and called them to life. They appeared amongst the people.

    “ At that, the veil of the Temple was torn into two, from the top, to bottom, the earth quaked, the rocks were split, and the tombs opened, and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City, and appeared to a number of people” Mathew 27:51-54

    “The last part, that no oppressor will pass over Jerusalem any more, remains to be fulfilled when Israel’s Messiah returns in power and glory.”

    This talks about the New Jerusalem, in the Christ.
    “God has misled the Jews, who would’ve assumed God was going to encamp at the new temple and continuously protect it from that day forward. This is what the passage implies, and there was no reason for them to think that God would stop his protection and then restart it. What’s the point of God even encamping there if he’s not going to offer continuous protection?”

    No, God does not lie. God, now is Immanuel God, amongst His people. With everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike.

    • johnrosstar says:

      Extremely thorough reply Bigfoot.
      I might add Jesus words at Matt. 23:38 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent to her+—how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you did not want it.+ 38 Look! Your house is abandoned to you.”
      That statement by the Messiah marked a turning point in Jehovah’s relationship with Israel.

      With the arrival of Messiah, Jehovah’s purpose for Israel made a hard banking turn but the majority of Israel couldn’t hang on and “smoked the bend” as some in Europe might say.
      As Bigfoot referred, Israel was to become a “Kingdom of priests” to the entire world as they would rule in the heavenly kingdom over man for the millennial reign of Christ. They were still given first crack at it after Christ died as the Covenant was kept in force for another half week (3.5 years) until the first gentile was anointed with Holy Spirit (born again) as a prospective King and Priest.
      (Rev. 5:10) “you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God+ out of every tribe and tongue* and people and nation,+ 10 and you made them to be a kingdom+ and priests to our God,+ and they are to rule as kings+ over the earth.”

      Excellent references form the Talmud Bigfoot…quite interesting.
      The Jewish leaders really let their nation down in the biggest way.

      500 Questions, your question seems to posed sort of in the same light as Baptists believe in “once saved, always saved” as though once they get baptized absolutely nothing they do can ever jeopardize their eternal salvation. The scripture says, “nothing can separate us from God’s love” but there are limits, just as there were with Israel.

      • Howdy johnrosstar, thanks for posting.

        Please keep in mind that this was not just a promise to love the Jews so long as they loved him in return, this was A PROPHECY. God was saying, “This is what I predict WILL happen in the future, I predict that you will NEVER AGAIN be overrun.”

        Even if we assume you are correct, and that God’s protection WAS contingent upon some level of Jewish cooperation, then GOD FAILED TO PREDICT THIS LACK OF COOPERATION; for as far as God seemed to know, the Jews WOULD cooperate, allowing him to forever protect them and the temple, exactly as he predicted.

        So either way, God fails. He either fails to predict that the Jews would be overrun and the temple destroyed, or he fails to predict that the Jews would foil his plan, thus forcing his prophecy into failure. If you are correct, then God should’ve known they would fail, and God should’ve never made this prediction.

        Take care,
        500Q 🙂

        • BIGFOOT says:

          The Vineyard of Yahweh.
          “Let me sing to my friend the song of his love for His vineyard.
          My friend had a vine yard on a fertile hillside.
          he dug the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted choice vines in it.
          In the middle he built a tower, he dug a press here too.
          he expected to yield grapes, but only sore grapes were all it gave.
          And now inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah,
          I ask you to judge between my vineyard and me.”

          “What could I have done for my vineyard that I had not done?
          I expected it to yield grapes. why did it yield sour grapes instead?
          Very well , I will take away its hedges for it to be grazed on,
          and knock down its walls for it to be tramped on.
          I will lay it waste, unpruned undug;
          overgrown by the briar and thorn.
          I will command the clouds to rain no rain on it.
          Yes, the vineyard of Yahweh, Saboath
          is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah
          that chosen plant, He expected justice, but found bloodshed,
          integrity but only a cry of distress.” Isaiah 5: 1-7

  2. toktaylor says:

    I would have preferred you did a post on all the prophesies and not just concentrate on one.

    • Hi toktaylor,

      Did you mean all the prophecies in the Bible, or all the prophecies in Zechariah 9? Or the entire book of Zechariah?

      I do plan to cover other prophecies, including the other prophecies in this chapter, and in Zechariah, but felt this particular prophecy deserved its own analysis. But my next post will likely focus on the second half of Zechariah 9.

      Thanks for reading,

      • cromagnostic says:

        “I would have preferred you did a post on all the prophesies and not just concentrate on one.”

        One measures the strength of a chain by its weakest link.

        Thanks for showing us those links 500.


      • liche says:

        Brilliant! Thank you, 500. Your analysis is always breathtaking.

  3. ezra says:

    This is very easy to solve. The temple was destroyed because it is no longer needed. When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn. Signifying our free access to God through His Son. They are overrun by the enemies because God is no longer in the camp like he promised, why? because the plan of salvation is already completed. you think the Jews were deceived? The Jews would think they are deceived knowing this truth because until now they are still hard headed and proud people thinking that they can be evil as they want just because they have the temple, I would not wonder why you have the same mindset with those hard headed Jews. Over time, God always repeats himself that justice and morality should be the center of their lives and not just those religious objects and sacrifices, God has planned more than something that meets the eyes, which the Jews and atheist until now fails to realize. The reason why you think God failed is because you only looked at a one side of the whole picture which shows how little you have understood the whole concept and purpose of the Bible.

    The promise of protection is a blessing to Israel being the chosen nation because of Abraham’s faithfulness. Even though Abraham’s descendants are evil, God did no forsake the promise of blessing. But it doesn’t mean that God will not implement justice on his people whenever they cross the line. Before destruction, God always sends prophets to warn them that they are already crossing the line. Abusing God’s goodness. When Christ dies, the temple is no longer needed, therefore God ‘s presence is no longer in the holy of Holies. It’s a whole new set, hence the “New Testament”. When Jesus came, the people rejected Him, but the people praised the temple’s beauty, so they missed the whole picture, like atheist do.

    • Hi Ezra,

      I don’t think it’s quite that easy. Reading Zechariah and considering the surrounding circumstances, it is very clear that God is ordering them to build a physical temple to replace the first temple.

      It is far too easy for someone to come along and say (in hindsight), “You know, I bet the temple spiritually symbolizes something else!!” We could invent a million different things the temple could have symbolized, and build comparisons from there, but that doesn’t make them true. These are just ideas that are developed through human thought, with the benefit of hindsight.

      So in order to be convincing, this symbolism must be established prior to the fulfillment of events. But there is no mention here of the Messiah, and nowhere in the Old Testament does it day that the Messiah would someday replace the need for this temple. This explanation must be read into the text, it is only done so after the birth of Christianity.


      • ezra says:

        Yes, the 2nd temple is the replacement of the 1st. My explanation is not hindsight, I have presented it lieterally, that the second temple is a tru tangible physical temple. THe temple is where the presense of God resides. But then the temple and the whole religious rituals and sacrifices are not meant to be forever.Thaqy are just shadows, type and pictures. The temple is both physical and sybolical with regards to God’s plan of salvation. Upon reading this verse, it is true that the the temple appears to be physical only and has no clue of being symbolical, what the the faithful Jews are already aware of that, therefore it is no longer needed to be reiterated everytime that the Jewish rituals and religious objects are just the shadow and type. “BUT there is no mention here of the Messiah, and nowhere in the Old Testament does it day that the Messiah would someday replace the need for this temple”., this is statement is a clear proof that you have little understanding of the Bible. First, it was not mention “here”, since God doesn’t have to mention it everytime, The book of Isaiah has so many Messianic prophecies that gives us clear hint what would be Jesus’ purpose and God’s whole plan of Salvation. No matter where you look at it, the bible is about our Salvation. I haved told you, you are just looking at 1 side of the picture. The Book of Hebrews explains all the issues concerning the Old Testament and it’s connection to the New. God does not mention that the Levitical system will be replaced by the Messiah, but in the New, Jesus is our high Priest, our Sacrifice, and all that Old testament stuff represents Jesus. Second, the Old is the Prophecy, and the New is the fullfillment. Telling that “nowhere in the Old Testament does it day that the Messiah would someday replace the need for this temple” just shows that you haven’t understood the Bible well,please review Isiah and Ezekiel, then relate it to the book of Hebrews. Jesus is not the replacement of the temple. The temple’s purpose is just no longer needed hence, the veil was torn and everyone has access to God through Jesus. That’s why in our prayer, we do it in Jesus’s name. Amen.

  4. ezra says:

    Concerning this topic, I would like to share this link if allowed by the admin here. For better understanding regarding Jesus the reality and fulfillment of the Old Testament.


    Thanks! have a nice day.

  5. anton says:

    god and his lackeys always have an excuse for failure to deliver, that is why, he needs apologists to defend him, and they have failed miserably everytime. they sink deeper into the mire of embarrassment.

  6. Katiera Pfeister says:

    When you take Zechariah with the rest of the Bible it is a beautiful letter to a people that had been exiled for 70 years. They could see in hindsight what Jeremiah/God’s prophet had warned them (Jeremiah 2:13, 3:19-20, 9:24, 12, 18:11…) for an entire generation about being conquered by Babylon. Since the Hebrews time in the wilderness (1,000 years before) God had shown them that He was the One they needed and without Him everything would go to ruin and chaos. He communicates beautifully and in complex ways that you have oversimplified and as one who sees bits, but not the whole, you are not ready to weave these complex things together. Keep searching the scriptures to see God and His Amazing plan to which the Jewish people are main characters and you will see God’s Biblical message and plan is for the Whole World. The One who would come on a donkey was also so much more amazing and complex then they/we could have ever imagined. I pray you seek and find The One we all need.

  7. JustaNotherTruthseeker says:

    Interesting thoughts l… I found this article after a web search because Zech 9:9 seemed like an odd promise and triggered my “if God loves us, why doesnt He protect us?” One thing that dawned on me when reading your article though was another possibility.. this one makes more sense if you really think about it…. Jesus said He is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. And He lives in the believer. The temple is the body hosting the Holy Spirit in each believer seeking a relationship with God through Christ… and the enemies may now be demons or powers of spiritual darkness etc. So the Jews that knew God would know the Son too. Remember how Jesus said that? So the what if the Jews who witnessed their second temple destroyed were missing the point of the new covenant?

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