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The Lord is speaking to the Prophet in this Chapter, not by vision, but by revelation. The people of the Land come to ask questions of the Prophet, in the name of the Lord, and the Prophet is commanded to make answer for the Lord.
(Zechariah 7:1 ). And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chissleu;
If the Reader will calculate the different dates of the Prophet's account concerning his ministry, he will find that nearly two years had elapsed from his former preaching. See Zechariah 1:7 . The month Chisleu corresponds to our October and November in part.
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer, and Regem-melech, and their men, to pray before the Lord, 3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself; as I have done these so many years? 4 Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto me, saying, 5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? 6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? 7 Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
It appears from this enquiry, that the people were of the same complexion in those days as all days, willing to substitute anything for real godliness. The leaven of self-righteousness mingles up in all men's minds, more or less. The great enemy of souls, infused this deadly poison unto our nature at the fall, and it runs like blood through the veins of the whole race. Fasting, and the squalid thee, sackcloth, and the like, are in the preference of all men by nature, because these are offerings to our own shrine. But faith in Christ is such a self-emptying, self-loathing principle, that none but those taught of God the Holy Ghost ever can, or ever will be able to practise. Reader! do observe in what terms the Lord speaks of those humiliations which are of man's creating, and came not from the Lord. What communion had I with you in all these things, saith the Lord? It is plain from the manner of the Lord's speaking, there had been none. And unless this great object had been the main object; intended from such observances, surely they are so far from being acceptable, that they become offensive in the sight of God. Reader! the doctrine is the same in the Christian Church, as in the Jewish. If Christ, who is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins, doth not give them; evidently there can be no real repentance in the soul. Acts 5:31 . And if our days of fasting and humiliation, be not with an eye to the blood and righteousness of Christ; they are but so much mockery before the Lord. Isaiah 65:5 . It is plain from what the Lord saith in the close of this paragraph, concerning the inattention of the people to the Prophets, that in the midst of all their pretended sanctity of fasting, there was a total disregard to the word of the Lord. What an awful delusion are men under that set up the form, while denying the power of godliness.
And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying 9 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. 11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears that they should not hear. 12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. 13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not: thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant and desolate.
Here is a confirmation of the subject, that the people had totally neglected God's word, by the Prophet, for if the Reader will consult the scriptures of the Prophets on those points, he will find that the Lord here commands Zechariah to repeat to the same purport, as those servants of the Lord had done. See Isaiah 58:0 throughout, Jeremiah 5:0 throughout, Hosea 4:0 throughout, Micah 6:0 throughout.
Reader! it is among the most important of all subjects to have a right apprehension of the method, whereby poor fallen man in every age of the Church, can rightly approach to God. Mankind have been always fond of commuting with God for sin, and when the Lord in grace saith return to me, and I will return to you, with the same boldness as those of old, we are apt to cry out, wherein shall we return? And then fastings, and almsgivings, and a few forms of prayer are set up, by way of atonement for the sin of the soul. Alas, alas! here is more spiritual pride in all this, than any real repentance, or true fasting, or sorrow. Amidst a thousand plans of false reform, and a thousand substitutions, instead of the real return of the heart to God, there is but one the Holy Ghost teacheth, and that is indeed infallible, namely, with an eye to Christ. Without faith (saith the Lord the Spirit by his servant the Apostle) it is impossible to please God. There will be no real sense of sin, no true compunction of the heart towards God, but where the Holy Ghost hath given a spirit of grace and supplication, to look unto Him whom we have pierced, and mourn. In every heart, where God the Holy Ghost hath arraigned that heart with an indictment for sin, there sin is felt, and known, and acknowledged to be exceeding sinful. And in every case of this kind, repentance and fasting will be the effect, and not sought to as a cause, to come before God with. Hence the Apostle strongly and satisfactorily reasons; if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin. Reader! do you feel prompted to ask, with the Sherezers and Regemmelechs of the present hour, should I weep, should I first in the fifth month as I have done these many years? hear the Lord's answer, and mark it well. Oh! for grace to eye Jesus in all, to go to Jesus for all, and to make him what God the Father hath made him, the all in all of the covenant. He, and He alone, in his glorious person, blood, and righteousness, is the only propitiatory, the only mercy seat, sacrifice, and sacrificer, for poor sinners to look to in all their approaches to God!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent