The Nations Cling to the Jews
“Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem… . In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (vv. 22–23).- Zechariah 8:16-23
God certainly delights in surprising people, in doing great things through unexpected means. Should we ever forget this, we will lose our ability to stand before the Lord in wonder, to have even the barest glimpse of His awesome wisdom. He saves the world through the weak and despised, the powerless whom everyone else has passed by.
Of course, this is seen most clearly in Jesus Christ, the humble Son of God who came not on a white horse to set up a worldly kingdom but who rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, establishing His Father’s kingdom by dying for His enemies (Phil. 2:5–11). In so doing, our Savior acted in keeping with much divine precedent. For who would have thought that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), a people who never commanded a world empire, were often overrun by their enemies, but whose Scriptures insist that their God is not just the deity for their tribe but for the whole world?
When Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that salvation is from the Jews (John 4:1–45), He was not revealing some new doctrine. In fact, He assumed that she would have known the identity of the people who would bless the world. After all, the prophets are filled with promises that the nations will at the last day join with the Jews in worship of Yahweh their Lord (Isa. 2:2–4). Zechariah 8:16–23 is one of these key passages, informing us that the Gentiles will be so convinced of the marvelous things God has done in and through Israel that they will cling to the robes of faithful Jews. They will beg, as it were, to go with the Jews to the temple to hear about Yahweh and what He has done for His children (vv. 20–23).
As indicated in today’s passage, the fulfillment of this prophecy is tied to the Jewish nation living according to God’s covenant. Verses 16–17 list several things the returned exiles could do to show forth their true faith and commitment to the covenant stipulations. Rendering true judgments in the gates is a demand for justice, as justice was determined and judgments were made by the elders at the city gates (Ruth 4:1–2; Ps. 127:5). Additionally, keeping one’s word is emphasized in Zechariah 8:16–17, a demand in keeping with the Bible’s frequently repeated warnings against breaking oaths and vows (Num. 30:2).
Faithfulness was the prerequisite to blessing, to the Gentiles joining God’s people. Now that Messiah has come, faithfulness to His covenant will bring about the same ends. As our light shines before others, the nations will glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14–16).
Only Christ can keep God’s covenant perfectly, which is why His righteousness is the only thing that avails for our justification, for being declared righteous in God’s sight. Having justified us, the Lord expects obedience out of gratitude for His grace, and as our lives reflect a pattern of holiness and obedience, more and more people see our witness and are attracted to the Christian faith. Are you being a good witness to your unbelieving neighbors by what you say and do?
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 10:31–33
The bible in a year
1 John 5