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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 7

Verses 1-14

  1. FATING & FEASTING! (Ch.7)
    1. TRADITION, TRADITION! (1-7)
    2. Q: As times change, should traditions? (When should they, when shouldn’t they, who gets to change them?)
      1. These questions challenge churches today even divide them!
      2. Zechariah uses this opportunity to teach the people about true spiritual worship, & then he turned their eyes away from the past to the promises of the future.
    3. (1) 2 year had passed since the last vision. Two years before the Temple was completed.
    4. (2,3) A delegation from Bethel was sent with a question.
      1. The question: Was it proper to continue a fast marking the destruction of the temple as our fathers have for the last 70 years…with this new one being built?
      2. He doesn’t answer them directly(yet/he will in ch.8:19), instead helps them to think through the answer by asking them 3 questions.
        1. It was necessary 1st to deal with the heart attitudes of the people.
        2. Our relationship w/the Lord isn’t so much a matter of traditions & rules as it is faith, love, & a desire to please Him.
        3. Immature people require religious regulations to tell them what to do, & these help them to measure their “spiritual life”.
    5. (5) Question #1 - Did you really fast for me? – Are you genuinely sorry that the temple, the symbol of God’s presence, was destroyed, or are you sad, “things just simply aren’t what they used to be?”
      1. They had 4 traditional days of fasting: 4th month(Babylonian siege); 5th month(Temple Burned); 7th month(Gedaliah’s murder); 10th month(Jerusalem siege begun).
      2. Show Papyrus Fragments:
      3. Zechariah 7:4-5 - The papyrus fragments of Dead Sea Scroll 7Q5 (i.e. Cave 7 at Qumran), dating to the 1st century A.D. and containing what some scholars believe to be Mark 6:52-53, although it is more likely to be Zech. 7:4-5.
    6. (6) Question #2 – Do you not eat & drink to yourself? – This question points to the opposite of fasting...Feasting!
    7. (7) Question #3 – Should you not have obeyed? –
    8. Each of God’s answer probes beyond the question of ceremonial protocol to the deeper issue of devotion to Him.
      1. They did what we often do…they settled for something self-imposed rather then something scripturally imposed!
      2. The only fast (& it was just implied) was on the day of Atonement (Lev.16:29).
        1. Q: But if one was good, isn’t 4 better?
      3. His point was “what was the point in lamenting a ruined temple, unless one also remembered why it was ruined!!!”
        1. And to piggy-back on that, “what was the point in restoring a temple unless one remembered what it was that led to its destruction in the 1st place!!!”
        2. Q: What is the point of remembering an event today that you don’t remember what it was for?
          1. Q: Isn’t Labor Day a day to catch upon labor around the house?
          2. Q: Isn’t Boxing Day a day to commemorate Boxing?
        3. Q: Can our younger generation define each of our holidays? Or are they just “days off school”.
      4. One argued that “if a guy dates a girl for 2 hours(& if God is more important to him), then he ought to spend more than 2 hours w/God or consider himself backslidden.” (Leonard Ravenhill; Revival Praying; pg.71 (quoted in Jim Townsends book Minor Prophets))
        1. The problem with many such ever-so-spiritual-sounding statements is that they are of human manufacturing rather then heaven’s manufacturing.
      5. Hymns only in church, psalms only in the church, no musical instruments in the church, ok 1 instrument but it has to be an organ.
      6. Let’s hold to the old Youth for Christ slogan, “Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock”.
    9. Lastly regarding tradition: Jerislav Pelikan aptly contrasted tradition & traditionalism: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living!”
      1. ​​​​​​​My favorites of all favorites is when the scribes and Pharisees asked, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”
    10. Lord, help us not to have a religion of habit but a religion of the heart! Lord, turn some of our religious fasts into righteous feasts!
    11. OBEDIENCE NOT SACRIFICE! (8-14)
    12. As far back as Samuel God told the people he wanted their obedience & not their sacrifices!
      1. David said it, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.” (Ps.51:16)
      2. Isaiah says it clearest, “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Is.1:14-17
      3. It is always easier to maintain tradition than to really meet w/God & have a heart experience of worship!
        1. ​​​​​​​Unfortunately I know this as well as the prodigal’s older brother! “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time;” [Lk.15:29] {Like the obedient dog in the circus, jumping through all he hoops…but never knowing why!}
      4. If we fast we must do it to glorify God, If we feast we must do honor Him!
      5. God does answer this in 8:19. One day all 4 fasts will be turned into feasts! (in the Kingdom Age)
    13. Here’s a positive example of true religion!
      1. F.B.Meyer said, “I have found that the Old Hebrew prophets would say for me all that I wanted to say on social economics.”
    14. (11) Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark: the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
    15. (13) I would not listen – The people had diligently refused to hear the word of God through his servants, so they had found God equally deaf!
    16. END: The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

      There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were "playing around" with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it. Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems. One by one the computers would come up and say, "Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!" And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going.

      You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world. The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/zechariah-7.html. 2017.