Introduction to Chapter 7
7 and 8 are a complete unit in Zechariah, dealing with the
hearts of the people toward their God. Following the eight
visions of chapters 1 through 6, these two chapters aim to point
the nation in a practical application of their restored
relationship, culminating with Lord Himself dwelling in the city
In chapter seven, the book of Zechariah addresses “True worship”
as opposed to ceremonial worship and obedience. With the Temple
nearly complete, the people want to know should they continue
their fasting and mourning, which began with the fall of the
Temple in the fifth month.
The Lord through Zechariah rebukes their ceremonial fasting,
which is done for an outward show. He then instructs them to
seek true worship, with a sincere heart, not like their
forefathers seventy years earlier.
better then fasting
1 Now in the
fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the
Lord came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month,
Chislev, 2 when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-Melech and
his men, to the house of God, to pray before the Lord, 3 and to
ask the priests who were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and
the prophets, saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month and fast
as I have done for so many years?" 4 Then the word of the Lord
of hosts came to me, saying, 5 "Say to all the people of the
land, and to the priests: 'When you fasted and mourned in the
fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you
really fast for Me-for Me? 6 'When you eat and when you drink,
do you not eat and drink for yourselves?
This begins a new phase in the book of Zechariah, the first six
chapters took place in the second year of Darius, chapters 7 and
8 take place in the fourth year. In Zechariah there are three
specific dates given, which allow us to date the book. After
Zechariah was commissioned, he saw eight visions in one night,
detailed in chapters 1 through 6. Chapter 7 begins a new part
of the book of Zechariah.
eighth month, in the second year of Darius
October/November 520 B.C.
Zechariah commissioned as a prophet
four and twentieth day of the eleventh month….second
year of Darius
Zechariah has eight visions on this date. Chapters 1
fourth year of King Darius….forth day of the ninth
December 7th ,
Chapters 7 and 8
calls the restored nations to sincere worship and prayer, not
year: The fourth
year of the reign of King Darius was 518 B.C.
Darius: The third in
the line from Cyrus the Great, he reigned from 521-486
B.C., he allowed construction of the Temple to resume. His son
was Xerxes, who married Ester, and his grandson was
Artaxerxes Longimanus who allowed the walls of Jerusalem to
be rebuilt in the days of Nehemiah 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 2:1-8).
the name adopted from the Babylonians by the Jews after the
Captivity for the third civil, or ninth ecclesiastical, month
(Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 7:1). It corresponds nearly with the
moon in November.
people: With the
Temple nearly complete, the people sent representatives, to seek
advise whether they were to continue mourning and fasting after
the Temple is complete. The two sent were Sherezer, and Regem-Melech along with their men, these names are both
foreign, demonstrating the pervasive foreign culture among the
exiles. Sherezer means in Assyrian , “Prefect
of the treasury” and the Regem Melech means, “The king's
words used here, la-tybBayith-'el, The word
has connotations of Israel’s apostasy, as Jeroboam set up a
rival place of worship to Jerusalem in the city of Bethel (House
of God) (I Kings 12:29-33, I Kings 13). The
men were sent to pray and enquire of the prophets and the
priests, if they should continue their fasting.
was used by the Israelites to refer to their place of worship as
opposed to Jerusalem or the house of the LORD as it is referred
to in verse 4. The idea they men were coming to the house of
God (Bethel) as opposed to the house of the Lord, may
suggest the need for correction here, by the God of Israel
through Zechariah the prophet.
God examines the sincerity of the people, in the 7th
and 8th chapter, they came to enquire before the
Lord, sending their representatives, the Lord responds with a
rebuke against the people, for their ceremonial worship in the
past seventy years of captivity.
priests…prophets: These men
came to enquire of the priests and the prophets in the rebuilt
Weep in the
fifth month…fast: On the fifth
month, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 586
B.C., from this point on during the seventy years of captivity
the Jews mourned and fasted to the Lord.
Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was
the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon),
Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of
Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 13 He burned the house of the Lord
and the king's house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all
the houses of the great, he burned with fire. Jeremiah
many years: Should they
continue to fast and mourn now that the Temple is nearly
complete. This was the question posed in the House of the Lord,
Zechariah being both of the priestly line and a prophet, would
have been there when the men arrived.
(4) Word of
the Lord: The Lord
heard the petition of these men, and replied through Zechariah.
people…the priests: The Lord’s
reply was not only to the people who brought the question, but
also to the priests.
mourned …fifth and seventh month: The people
of the land fasted in the 5th month, the month the
Temple was burned, and in the 7th month. In the
seventh month, Ishmael descendent of David’s line killed the
governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, whose name was Gedaliah.
But it happened in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of
Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with
ten men and struck and killed Gedaliah, the Jews, as well as the
Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 2 Kings 25:25
by all accounts was of a righteous family, he was the grandson
of Shaphan, the scribe who first read the scriptures toKing Josiah (2 Kings 22:5, 8-11). His father, Ahikamrescued Jeremiah from a plan to kill him. (Jer.
26:24, 2 Kings 22;12). The anti-Babylonian party killed him,
and escaped into Egypt taking Jeremiah the prophet with them.
me? At this
point the Lord questions their sincerity in their fasting, then
in a Hebrew nuances, rebukes their fasting. Their fasting was
not for the Lord, but for show and ceremony.
Yourselves?: The people
and even the priests of the captivity, had fallen into the mode
of ceremony, doing the actions, without the sincere heart. Here
in Isaiah two people are contrasted, the poor and contrite who
trembles at the Lord’s word, and the outwardly religious.
2 For all
those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says
the Lord."But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of
a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. 3 "He who kills
a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if
he breaks a dog's neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he
offers swine's blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an
idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul
delights in their abominations, Isaiah 66:3-4
outwardly religious seem to do all the right things, sacrificing
bulls and lambs, offering grain offerings, but their hearts is
somewhere else, outwardly religious, inwardly he is wicked. The
Lord is looking for sincere worship. He considers the poor and
contrite, who values His Word rather then the outwardly
was the case here, the people and the priests actions were
becoming ceremonial, rather then sincere toward the Lord.
resulted in fasting
7 'Should you
not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the
former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were
inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were
8 Then the
word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 9 "Thus says the
Lord of hosts: 'Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the
fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in
his heart Against his brother.' 11 "But they refused to heed,
shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they
could not hear. 12 "Yes, they made their hearts like flint,
refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts
had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great
wrath came from the Lord of hosts. 13 "Therefore it happened,
that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they
called out and I would not listen," says the Lord of hosts. 14
"But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations
which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after
them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made
the pleasant land desolate." Zechariah 7:7-14
…Have obeyed:. Seventy-years
earlier, the people of Judah and Jerusalem had a similar
problem; they rejected the Lord inwardly, while keeping an
outward appearance. The prophets had warned them of the Lord’s
coming judgment, urging them to return from religious ceremony,
to sincere worship. The events causing the fasting in the 5th
and 7th months would not have happened had the people
obeyed the prophets. Over 150 years before Zechariah, the Lord
warned the people through Isaiah, of religious ceremony without
a sincere heart.
the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law
of our God, You people of Gomorrah: 11 "To what purpose is the
multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. "I have had
enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I
do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. 12
"When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from
your hand, To trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile
sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the
Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity
and the sacred meeting. …..17 Learn to do good; Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the
widow. 18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord,
"Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as
snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of
the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured
by the sword"; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah
people in Zechariah’s day were facing a similar problem, ritual
ceremony without sincerity. The ceremony and actions were only
complete if the rest of the covenant was kept. Outward actions
toward humanity demonstrated the sincere heart, their lack of
humanity demonstrated their ritual.
prophets: The prophets
before the exile included Jeremiah and Isaiah. The prophets
after the exile were Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Amos warned both Israel and Judah
before their destruction what the Lord required, but the nation
rejected their words.
Jerusalem and the surrounding areas were prosperous and
populated as compared to Zechariah’s day, when the people lived
in the midst of Jerusalem’s destruction, under constant threat
from the surrounding nations.
Wealth and prosperity is from the Lord, he gives the ability to
make money, and fulfilled his covenant promises against the
land, because they turned away from the Lord.
18 "And you
shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you
power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He
swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 "Then it shall be,
if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other
gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you
this day that you shall surely perish. 20 "As the nations which
the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you
would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.
true justice: Before the
children of Israel entered the Promised Land under the
leadership of Joshua, the Lord established conditional promises,
based on obedience and disobedience. If Israel as a nation was
obedient they would be blessed above all the nations.
shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord
your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I
command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high
above all nations of the earth. 2 "And all these blessings shall
come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of
the Lord your God: Deuteronomy 28:1-2
Lord did not just require obedience of ceremony, but obedience
of the heart, which was demonstrated by the treatment of those
most vulnerable, the widows, orphans and strangers. They were
too show love to their fellow man, reflecting God’s nature to
the world. Justice and love were also part of the Covenant
established with the nation. When the nation was obedient to
heart, they would be obedient to the whole.
mercy...compassion: The way we
treat those close to use, our brothers, not only in blood but
also in faith, all Hebrews were considered brothers, not just
blood brothers. (Deut. 15:12). The Hebrew word for mercy is ,doxCheced, meaning
to show goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and the word for
compassion is ~xrRacham, which
also means womb or tender love or pity. The Lord wanted the
people to be tender hearted toward one another, reflecting his
love to a hostile world.
Humanity is made in the image of God; we are to reflect
“godlikeness” to the world. Here the Lord lists four groups,
each vulnerable in a hostile world; 1. the widow, 2. the
fatherless (Orphans) 3. the alien (the foreigner) 4. the poor.
The way these groups are treated reflects the heart of the
culture to the world. The Covenant required the people to
demonstrate God’s character to these people.
17 "For the
Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God,
mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
18 "He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and
loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 "Therefore
love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Refused: Both the
lands of Judah and Israel to listen to the prophets, even after
they were judged, they rejected the words. In the book of
Jeremiah, the people of Jerusalem, who escaped from the
destruction of the city in 586 B.C. flee to Egypt taking
Jeremiah captive. In Egypt, they burned incense to the Queen
even after the words of Jeremiah came to fruition, even after
they asked Jeremiah what they should do.
these Jews who escaped to Egypt from Jerusalem fled, they asked
Jeremiah to pray to the Lord God, so they would know what to do
(Jeremiah 42). After swearing they will listen to whatever the
Lord says, they accuse Jeremiah of lying to them to them, when
he says to them, stay where you are, do not flee to Egypt
(Jeremiah 43). In Egypt, they openly reject Jeremiah message
from the Lord, both the men and the women, standing as a witness
to their own destruction.
15 Then all
the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other
gods, with all the women who stood by, a great multitude, and
all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros,
answered Jeremiah, saying: 16 "As for the word that you have
spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you!
17 "But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own
mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink
offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings
and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of
Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and
saw no trouble. 18 "But since we stopped burning incense to the
queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have
lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by
famine." 19 The women also said, "And when we burned incense to
the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did
we make cakes for her, to worship her, and pour out drink
offerings to her without our husbands' permission?" 20 Then
Jeremiah spoke to all the people-the men, the women, and all the
people who had given him that answer-saying: 21 "The incense
that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of
Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes,
and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them, and
did it not come into His mind? 22 "So the Lord could no longer
bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the
abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a
desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant,
as it is this day. 23 "Because you have burned incense and
because you have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed
the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, in His statutes or
in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you,
as at this day." 24 Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people and
to all the women, "Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are
in the land of Egypt! 25 "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God
of Israel, saying: 'You and your wives have spoken with your
mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, "We will surely
keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of
heaven and pour out drink offerings to her." You will surely
keep your vows and perform your vows!'
The Holy Spirit: Jeremiah,
like the other prophets before him, spoke under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit. The former prophets, means those prior to
the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The
people did not reject Jeremiah’s word, they rejected the Lord’s
word, spoken through Jeremiah. They reaped their own
destruction, because the refused to listen.
(13) Just as
proclaimed: The words
spoken through the prophets were fulfilled, just as the prophets
I would not
listen: Their comes
a point, when the Lord turns people over to themselves, if
people continue in rejecting the Lord’s word, then when they
call God does not respond. This was the case with Jerusalem in
Jeremiah’s day, the Lord even instructed Jeremiah to no longer
pray for the people.
11 Then the
Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good.
12 "When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they
offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them.
But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the
pestilence." 13 Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets
say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have
famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.' " 14
And the Lord said to me, "The prophets prophesy lies in My name.
I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they
prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing,
and the deceit of their heart.
scattered them: Before the
Israel entered the Promised Land, the Lord promised to bless the
nation above all nations on the earth, if they were obedient to
Him. This promise of obedience and blessings will be fulfilled
in the Millennium. Zechariah chapter 8, looks forward to
this blessing, as Jerusalem receives the blessings of obedience,
when God Himself will dwell in the city.
also received promises for disobedience, among those promises,
the Lord promised to scatter a disobedient people to the
nations. However, one day, they will be gathered again into the
land to receive the promises of the Lord’s blessings. (Deut.
B.C., because of their disobedience the Jews were scattered,
fulfilling the words of the Covenant.
63 "And it
shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good
and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy
you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off
the land which you go to possess. 64 "Then the Lord will scatter
you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other,
and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your
fathers have known-wood and stone. 65 "And among those nations
you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a
resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling
heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.
were gathered again in the days of Zechariah, back to the land
of Israel from Babylon, and Assyria, after a 70-year period of
desolation. This is what Zechariah is now addressing, the
scattering of the people to the nations as fulfillment of words
of the prophets, including Moses the author of Deuteronomy.
greater scattering occurred after Zechariah, when the nation of
Israel rejected their king, King Messiah who came riding
into the city on a donkey in A.D. 33 (Zechariah 9:9. The
Messiah, rejected and crucified, by the Jewish nation, resulted
in the nation being scattered again to the nations a second time
following Zechariah’s day, in A.D. 70.
future, as the nation is gathered again, prior to end-times and
the 2nd Coming of the Messiah, (Zechariah 12:10), and
the Temple is rebuilt a third time, clearly the events of
Zechariah’s day become a foreshadowing of future events, with a