We are about to enter what is called the four messages. These messages came in the fourth year of Darius. This means it is 2 years after Zechariah 1:1.
A lot of times when we read these books, we think that they were written all at once, or over a relatively short time span. But this book took years to write.
It is at this point that the temple is halfway complete. These are questions to God about fasting. Two of the messages are answered negatively and two are answered positively. But in reality, the message to the people is to live righteous lives.
The chapters, just like the rest of them, begin with a some history and end with a future-forward look at the second coming of Christ.
Zechariah 7:1 – In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev.
This message comes two years after Zechariah 1:1 and two years before the completion of the temple. The month puts it in November or December.
Zechariah 7:2 – Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord,
Bethel was about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. According to Ezra 2:28 and Nehemiah 7:32, the town was repopulated after the return from exile.
The two names given, Sharezer and Regem-melech are Babylonian names. These are most likely men who are were born in captivity and returned to their homeland.
They were called to “entreat the favor of the Lord.” This means that they are to pray to God. The fact that Bethel had sent these men, that means that they saw Jerusalem as the spiritual center of the culture.
Zechariah 7:3 – saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
It seems that the fifth month was set aside for many year to weep, pray and fast. The reason for this question is to determine if they should continue the practice since they are no longer in captivity.
The fall of Jerusalem is remembered by four separate fasts. They are in the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months. You find more on that in 2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 39, and Jeremiah 41.
The fast in the fifth month was the most important one because that was the month that the temple was burned.
They were questioning the continuation of this serious fast during a time of great joy and success.
Zechariah 7:4 – Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me:
Basically, Zechariah is saying that God is answering through him.
Zechariah 7:5 – “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?
We know the fast of the fifth month was for the burning of the temple. The fast in the seventh month was mourning the death of Gedaliah.
God is pretty straightforward here. The fasts that the Jews did were to mourn the burning of the temple and to honor one of their governors. These fasts were for them, not for God.
When they fasted and prayed, they sought God’s favor by asking Him to remove them from captivity. God, however, wanted them to repent during those fasts. But the Jews didn’t fast to repent, they fasted to get God’s power.
Zechariah 7:6 – And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?
While in captivity, the Jews ate the foods that the Babylonians ate. They ate to be refreshed and to enjoy. They didn’t eat as unto the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul tells us that we should eat and drink to the glory of the Lord.
Zechariah 7:7 – Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”
This is a beginning of the second message. This message is about obeying God’s Word. God is asking the Jews to look back and see what their fathers did and to not repeat those sins.
The areas that are being discussed here are basically the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the areas around Beersheba. The words that Zechariah is talking about here are the words of the prophets. These are words of obedience, not ceremony. All throughout the history of God’s people God has asked for obedience, not ritual.
Zechariah 7:8 – And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying,
And again, God is going to speak through Zechariah.
Zechariah 7:9 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,
God starts this off by telling us that it is important because God is saying it. God wants the judges to be truthful in their judgments and for the His people to love their neighbors. Jesus repeats this idea in Matthew 22:39.
Zechariah 7:10 – do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
God Law is true and just when followed with a pure heart. It separates the rest of the world from God’s people. Again, we are called to love our neighbors.
God wants His people to have His heart for people. This is the same message Jesus shared during his time of earth.
Zechariah 7:11 – But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.
Before the exile, the Jews refused to follow God’s Law. They “turned a stubborn shoulder.” This means they were rebellious to God. The people of God kept getting in trouble because they kept ignoring God’s Law. They didn’t want to let God lead them.
Zechariah 7:12 – They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.
God sent His Spirit through the prophets to share God’s desire and the Jews turned their shoulders and hardened their hearts.
If the Jews would have softened their hearts to the Lord they would have been saved. But they didn’t. They hardened their hearts. This made the Lord angry.
Zechariah 7:13 – “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts,
God chose to ignore His people since they chose to ignore Him. How often as parents have we chosen to ignore our children because they choose to ignore us? We need our kids to learn from their mistakes and sometimes this comes from our silence, not our attention.
Zechariah 7:14 – “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”
God sent them into exile. The land they left behind was destroyed. This was to teach them a lesson, that they needed God.
Jeremiah 9:16 – I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”