THUS SAID YAHWEH

alternate textThe phrase “Thus said Yahweh …” (Heb: “Ko amar Yahweh”) appears 20 times in the book of Zechariah (ZecharYah), more or less the same number of times that it appears in all of the other (12) smaller prophetic books, combined. This is a clear indication that ZecharYah was a prophet in the true and classical sense of the word. He didn’t come up with his own ideas. He didn’t have the option of allowing himself to ignore what Yahweh had told him clearly. He didn’t fall in the trap of trying to win over the favour and the applause of the people. His only mandate was to bring to the people of Yisrael the very words of Yahweh – nothing less and nothing more.

Similar to all the other prophets, ZecharYah sometimes had to speak to the people about things that he himself did not fully understand. The best example of this is Zec 6:12-13: “Thus said Yahweh of hosts, See, the Man whose name is the Branch! And from His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of Yahweh. It is He who is going to build the temple of Yahweh. It is He who is going to bear the splendour. And He shall sit and rule on His throne, and shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Although he may have heard some of the other prophets speaking about a Branch, chances are that ZecharYah himself did not entirely know what this Branch was all about, and what resemblance it had with the building of the temple, and how it was possible that the one sitting on a throne (a king) could also be a priest. Did he even know what he said when he pointed to Yahushua, the high priest at that time, and proclaimed, “See, the man whose name is the Branch”? Little knowing that someone else who would arrive on the scene, 500 years later, would be seen as a Branch from the stem of Yishai and Dawid, and that his name would literally be Yahushua, just like the name of the high priest that he, ZecharYah, knew so well!

To me, the “Thus said Yahweh” statement in ZecharYah 6, referring to the Branch, who was going to be filled with splendour, who was going to rebuild the temple and who was going to be both a King and a Priest, is the pinnacle of all the other “Thus said Yahweh” statements in ZecharYah. Let us take a look at some of these statements and how they are all affirmed with special meaning when reading them in the context of the coming of the Branch, 500 years later, the One we came to recognize as Y’shua of Nazareth, the promised Messiah and the Son of Elohim! We cannot elaborate on each of these statements. Some of those that we shall leave out for now, are the following: Thus said Yahweh: I am jealous for my people and my city (1:14); If you decide to walk in My ways, you shall rule My house (3:7); Let every man pursue righteousness towards his brother (7:9); When you hear my words, let your hands be strong (8:9); Even your days of fast are to be days of joy and gladness (8:19) and Take care of the flock that is in danger of being destroyed (11:4).

REPENTANCE. Zec 1:3 Thus said Yahweh … Turn back to Me, declares Yahweh of hosts, and I shall turn back to you. These words imply that the people have turned away from Yahweh. Not only a handful, but all of them. No exceptions are mentioned by the prophet. They have chosen the way of their fathers. They have listened to so-called prophets who proved to be worthless soothsayers. ZecharYah reminds them of the fact that the fathers and the false prophets are no more – they have all perished – but the words that were spoken to the fathers did not perish. They were still in existence. They were still valid. They were still true. That is why Y’shua emphasized that He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to show that it was still valid and should still be kept. Those teachings were still true. That is why he told the parable of the Lost Son, who came back to his father and repented because he lost his way. The one who has turned his back UPON Yahweh, needs to turn back TO Yahweh. Most of the times we don’t even know that we have turned away from Him. That is why, in the very first sermon after the departure of Y’shua, when Kepha (Peter) spoke to those who came to attend the Feast of Shavuot in Acts 2, and in answer to the question of the people, “What should we do?”, the answer was given: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the Name of Y’shua Messiah for the forgiveness of sins.” And these were people who knew the feasts and kept them. Many of them made a huge sacrifice, coming from far-off countries to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. They too, were called upon to repent and to trust in Y’shua as the Messiah, for the forgiveness of sins. No exceptions were made. Even Kepha and his fellow apostles knew that repentance was a “Thus said Yahweh” statement and therefore something that should be honoured by every serious follower of Yahweh!

COMPASSION. Zec 1:16-17 Thus said Yahweh … I shall return to Yerushalayim with compassion … again My cities shall overflow with goodness and Yahweh shall again comfort Tsiyon. These words are an expression of Yahweh’s compassion towards the people and the city that He had chosen from the very beginning, but it is also a very good indication of his compassion towards us. Notice the words compassion, goodness and comfort. No-one can show compassion like Yahweh does. He will always return with compassion. He will do it again and again. He will comfort his people again. Just when they thought there was no hope and no solution and no future, Yahweh appeared in their midst. He reminded them of his compassion and his love and his kindness. He promised them that their cities would once again overflow with goodness. More goodness and more provision than what they could handle! The kind of comfort that was filled with meaning and really made a difference. This is who He is. This is what He does. Over and over again. Simply because there is no end and no limit to his loving-kindness. And it comes with a promise: Thus said Yahweh! So strong is his inclination to take care of his people, that in ANOTHER “Thus said Yahweh” statement (Zec 2:8), He added these words: “He who touches you, touches the apple of My eye”! And when He sent his Son, the Branch, this message was demonstrated in the most clear fashion imaginable. “Blessed are the compassionate, because they shall obtain compassion”, Y’shua taught. He Himself was moved with compassion for the crowds who followed Him. And more than once Y’shua quoted the well-known words of the prophet Hoshea, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice”. We have NO reason, WHATSOEVER, to doubt the fact that Yahweh is truly an Elohiem of compassion!

IMPOSSIBLE. Zec 8:6 Thus said Yahweh … If it shall be impossible in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, shall it also be impossible in my sight? Some of the translations use “marvelous” and “wondrous” here, instead of “impossible” but this is the translation of the LXX, the same translation that Y’shua and his followers most probably had access to, during the early years of the modern era. Notice the words “remnant” and “those days”. Our understanding is that the remnant of Yisrael will consist of a portion of native Israelites who would remain faithful to Yahweh’s principles of righteousness and promises, together with a portion of people from other nations who would become co-followers of Yahweh, equally faithful to Yahweh’s principles of righteousness and promises. The reality of the remnant will become more clearly defined in the latter days, or what is often called “those days” in Scriptures. If the world has not yet fully reached the stage of “those days”, it wil get there pretty soon. For all practical purposes, we have come to “those days” already, because in our time we can see how the remnant is taking shape, slowly but surely. Before our very eyes we are seeing the fulfilment of one of the most far-reaching “Thus said Yahweh” statements in the book of ZecharYah: “Thus said Yahweh … In those days ten men from all languages of the nations take hold of the edge of the garment of a man, a Yehudi, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that Elohim is with you” (8:23). Elohim is with his people. He has not abandoned them. Not for one moment. But there is a significant process of sifting and adding … and sifting and adding, going on. Those of the Yehudim who are unfaithful and disloyal, will fall through the sieve. Those of the nations who join Yahweh and remain faithful to Him, will be added to the remnant. And they will come to know Yahweh in whose eyes nothing is impossible. They will even marvel at the fact that they themselves had become part of the remnant of the people of Yisrael. How could this be? How could Yahweh perform such an unthinkable miracle? And they will be reminded of the words of the Messiah who said that it was more likely that one would be able to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle, than to squeeze certain kinds of people into the kingdom of heaven. His disciples marveled at these words and asked Him, “If this is the case, who then can be saved?” Upon which Y’shua answered, in line with what ZecharYah said 500 years before: What seems to be impossible in man’s eyes, is quite possible with Yahweh. Only because of his never-ending compassion and his unlimited strength!