About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 7
And Mercy, Not Fasting (ch. 7:1 - 14)
event of this chapter took place in 518 BC, two years after
Zechariah’s night of visions. We
know this because in verse 1 we see that word of the Lord came to
Zechariah in the fourth year of King Darius.
see in verses 2 and 3 that certain men came from Bethel
to ask the high priest if they should continue to mourn and fast in the
particular fifth month fast was to remember the time when Nebuchadnezzar
and leveled it to the ground. This
was not a fast mandated by God. It
became a Jewish tradition. The only mandated fast God instituted was the
fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16).
God at times called
verses 4 and 5 the word of the Lord came to Zechariah in the form of a
question that would begin the dialogue to answer the question posed by
the men from
seventy years spoken of here is the seventy years of
verse 6 God asks, “when you were eating and drinking, were you not
feasting for yourselves?” God
answers His own question with a question that confirms what I’ve just
said above. It didn’t seem
to matter to God, whether Israel
was eating, drinking, or feasting, or even fasting, they weren’t doing these things unto
was getting at the motives of
verse 7 God reminds Israel
of the former years, when the prophets prophesied similar words from the
Lord. They were in rest, in
peace and prosperity, but because their hearts weren’t right in the
eyes of God, even though they went through the religious ritual, God
judged them and sent them into captivity.
8 through 10 show another aspect to what God is saying.
The Jews were going through the ritual of fasting and mourning,
but there were other things that they were neglecting.
The neglect of these things made their rituals useless in the
sight of God. And how true
this is with the Christian church today.
We place more emphasis on ritual than the things we should be
doing, and there were obviously things that the Jews were not doing as
verse 9 God says to “administer justice, show mercy and
compassion to one another.”
This is similar to what James teaches in the New Testament, that
is, faith without works is not faith.
You can do all the good and right rituals, but if you lack in
justice, mercy and compassion, all your works and rituals are in vain.
Jesus said the same to the Pharisees many times.
Jesus was quite upset with the Jewish leaders because they failed
to live justly and care for others as they should, even though they did
all the religious things they could find to do. Again,
the same is true for us today. Evangelicals have complained over the
years about the liberal church’s approach to these things.
Evangelicals say the liberal churches are too involved in social
justice activity while they neglect God’s salvation.
That might well be true, but on the other hand, Evangelicals need
to consider social justice matters along wit the faith they claim to
verse 10 God continues by telling the Jews not to oppose the widows,
fatherless, alien, or the poor, something James in the New Testament
says to Christians as well. It
appears that the Jews were not only neglecting these groups of people,
they were actually opposing them.
verse 11 God says that “they did not pay attention; stubbornly they
turned their backs…” The word “they” refers to the Jews of old, prior to the
Babylonian captivity. They
failed to hear the word of the Lord and do it, the same word that God
was speaking to the Jews of Zechariah’s day.
verse 12 God said to this present generation of Jews, that their
forefathers did not hear the word of God spoken to them by the Spirit
through the prophets of old. For
this reason God was very angry at
13 is interesting. Some
today don’t think that God acts this way today, and really didn’t
back in Zechariah’s day either. God
says that when He called out to Israel
they didn’t listen. That’s
a historical fact. But when
the time came for Israel
to need help from God and they called out to Him, God responded in the
same way they responded to Him. He
did not listen. Once again,
the same can still happen today.
this resulted in God scattering the Jews throughout the known earth and
leaving their land to decay as seen in verse 14.
God did this in times past. He
did it in 70 AD. He’s done
it with the church over the last two thousand years.
When His people get stubborn and go their own way, He’ll let
them go and He will scatter them, leaving their land in total ruins.
How many churches have you seen fall into decay and ruin.
We may not have thought it, but most likely this was God’s
judgment in action.