Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 7

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-3

Zec 7:1-3

God is sought after for an answer regarding Fasting

(Zechariah 7:1-3)

“And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of Jehovah came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chislev” (Zechariah 7:1).

Two years and one month after Zechariah received 8 visions he records more of his work (see Zechariah 1:1). The current year would have been about 517 BC.

“Now they of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech, and their men, to entreat the favor of Jehovah, and to speak unto the priests of the house of Jehovah of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?” (Zechariah 7:2-3).

Bethel was the city that Jeroboam had begun calf worship long ago. When the captives of Babylon came back to Palestine many went to Bethel and rebuilt a small city there. There was an annual fast observed throughout the days of the people’s captivity that reminded them of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack and destruction of the temple (cf. Jeremiah 52:12). Now that the temple is being reconstructed the people want to know if they needed to continue this fast.

Verses 4-7

Zec 7:4-7

First Statement Answered (Zechariah 7:4-7)

“Then came the word of Jehovah of hosts unto me, saying, Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh month, even these seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” (Zechariah 7:4-5).

The fifth month fast commemorated the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the seventh month fast was the only authorized fast for Israel to partake of (i.e., the Day of Atonement) (cf. Leviticus 23:27). The Lord’s question regarding Israel’s fasting is one that implies that they did fast; however, their reasons for doing so were not sorrow over the temple or to be in compliance with the word of God regarding the Day of Atonement. Why didn’t the people keep these fasts “even to me” then?

“And when ye eat, and when ye drink, do not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? Should ye not hear the words which Jehovah cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?” (Zechariah 7:6-7).

It becomes clear that the people were only fasting because it was an ordinance that had to be done rather than doing it because they wanted to comply with God’s revealed words. Their hearts were not right. They were doing things for the wrong reasons. So they remained confused. They felt that God could not be satisfied. They felt that nothing they did would satisfy Him. Their confusion is now discovered. God is not to be served with mindless service but rather out of a heart that recognizes His sovereignty and thereby is willing to comply with His laws. The people should have listened to “the words which Jehovah cried by the former prophets.” Rather than God’s words they followed their own ways.

Verses 8-14

Zec 7:8-14

The Second Statement Answered (Zechariah 7:8-14)

“And the word of Jehovah came unto Zechariah, saying, Thus hath Jehovah of hosts spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother; and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the sojourner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart” (Zechariah 7:8-10).

These simple instructions and or commandments had been given to Israel and Judah before these current days. They rejected these commandments and so found themselves destroyed and taken captive. Nothing had changed as far as what God desired of His people. The inference is clear. The current people of God (returned captives) were falling into the same transgressions of those who preceded them even though they were warned by Jeremiah, Micah, Nahum, and Zephaniah.

“But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they might not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which Jehovah of hosts had sent by his Spirit by the former prophets: therefore there came great wrath from Jehovah of hosts” (Zechariah 7:11-12).

Note that the hard adamant stone heart of the people was revealed as Jehovah sent prophets with His words yet they “stopped their ears” to the “words which Jehovah of hosts had sent by his Spirit by the former prophets.” A hard heart is thereby defined as one that hears God’s word yet will not act upon it. It is interesting that the question of fasting has brought all of this about. They want to know God’s mind regarding whether or not they should fast and now they are receiving a scathing rebuke and warning. They asks of fasting and the Lord knows that their fasting is not done out of a spirit of obedience and love but rather out of mindless repetition of duty. While the years have rolled by they have not gained knowledge of God’s will and thereby have no since of shame as they violate His holy word. Combinations of ignorance and self-seeking gratification have polluted their ways. Haggai thereby calls all their doings unclean (Haggai 2:14).

“And it is come to pass that, as he cried, and they would not hear, so they shall cry, and I will not hear, said Jehovah of hosts; but I will scatter them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they have not known. Thus the land was desolate after them, so that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate” (Zechariah 7:13-14).

God will not hear their cries of despair because they do not obey His will. When one follows another’s will such as self or a false prophet how can that person possibly think that God will answer them in such a state of mind. Will He support such a one in their false ways? Is this how grace works? No! God’s grace belongs to those who submit to His will rather than another. The responsibility of all hardships and desolation that they had experienced and will experience is self-inflicted. When I violate the law it is I who am the cause of my trouble not the law itself!

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/zechariah-7.html.
 
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