When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD, 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? (Zechariah 7:2-3)
TO REVIEW: A remnant of Judah’s Jews returned from the 70-year Babylonian captivity, and began building a replacement for Solomon’s Temple that God destroyed by the hands of the army of Babylon. They were not “rebuilding” Solomon’s Temple. It was a much smaller temple. They finished the foundation of another, new temple and dedicated it with a ceremony.
IN CONTRAST TO SOLOMON'S TEMPLE, this temple was called Zerubbabal’s Temple because he was the Persian-appointed governor of Judah while the temple was being built. We say that the temple was rebuilt. Yes and no. It was the continuation of a system of worship that included a temple.
THE OLD MEN WHO REMEMBERED SOLOMON'S TEMPLE certainly didn’t think they were “rebuilding” Solomon’s Temple. They wailed and wept at the small size of the new temple. Zerubbaal (Jerubbaal) led the first group of 42,360 Jews from Babylon to Judah in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia. The date is approximately 538 and 520 BC. (My computer speller keeps insisting that Zerubbabal is Jerubbaal.)
UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF ZERUBBABAL, the foundation of the new temple was laid. This temple was to replace Solomon’s temple that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, 70 years earlier. Zerubbabal is always associated with the high priest, Joshua (Jeshua) son of Jozadak (Jehozadak). who returned with him to Jerusalem. Together, these two men led the first wave of Jewish reurnees from exile and began to rebuild the Temple. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia)
BUT THEY BECAME WEARY FROM WORKING and from the opposition that blew up in their faces by those who did not want the Temple rebuilt and did not want the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. So, they quit God’s project of rebuilding the Temple and began building their own houses, some of them quite fancy. For sixteen years the Temple foundation lay there awaiting the walls and roof.
MEANTIME, THERE HAD DEVELOPED A TRADITION OF THE JEWS of having four annual times of fasting to commemorate the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. This was their own doing. God had not instructed them to fast every year about the loss of Solomon’s Temple. “The law of Moses required the Jews to observe only one national fast, and that was on the annual day of Atonement. (Leviticus 23:16-32) Of course, individual Jews could fast from time to time as they felt led, but this wasn’t required of the entire nation.” (Wiersbe)
SO....TWO PEOPLE WERE SENT TO JERUSALEM to ask a serious religious question. Their names were: Sherezer and Regemmelech. They were Jews, but their names were Babylonian. The Jewish captives in Babylon had all been fasting and praying in commemoration of the loss of their Temple built by Solomon.
“TO COMMEMORATE EVENTS SURROUNDING the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, four new fasts had been added to the religious calendar by the Jewish exiles in Babylon (see Zechariah 8:19); one in the tenth month, when the Babylonians had begun he siege of the city; another in the fourth month, when the city walls had been broken through; one in the fifth month, when the temple was burned: and the fourth in the seventh month, when the Jewish governor Gedaliah had been assassinated (see Jeremiah 41) (Wiersbe p.1511 Bible Commentary).
OUT OF FOUR NEW FASTING DAYS ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR in Babylon, the two fasting Jews picked out only one: the one in the fifth month. Did they ask about the fifth month because that was when the temple was burned or because that was the fast that was coming up next?
IN RESPONSE TO THIS INQUIRY OF THE PRIESTS AND PROPHETS at the Temple construction site, the Lord sent a message to Zechariah. 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? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? 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? (Zecharaiah 7:5-7)
FOR 70 YEARS THEY FASTED and ate religious food and drink. But they would have nothing to do with the message of the older prophets who told them of God’s displeasure with their lifestyle. All these years of fasting over the loss of their Temple built by Solomon, and they still had not repented. Fasting, yes. Repentance, no.
GOD HAD LEFT THEM ALONE ALL THESE YEARS while they went through with this phony fasting. God is saying: “OK, now that you have brought this up, I will tell you what really needs to be done. You have asked the priests and the prophets the wrong question.”
IT MAKES US PAUSE AND THINK ABOUT RELIGIOUS THINGS WE DO and why we do them. Are we doing religious things to bring glory to God, or are we doing them because religious things entertain us? I don’t know if we can completely figure that out. I’ve always loved Bible stories and preaching with lots of stories in the sermons and have like gospel music.
I ESPECIALLY LIKE HYMNS ON A WELL-PLAYED GRAND PIANO. You notice that I often include How Great Thou Art played on a concert grand piano by Kim Collingsworth. Ted Smith, who played for Billy Graham, was one of the best. Rudy Atwood, Robert Harkness and others were gifted. I also like to hear a simple “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” sung by children.
I’VE OFTEN WONDERED HOW MANY CONCERT GRAND PIANOS there will be in Heaven. I’m sure thee will be great swelling choirs and orchestras in Heaven. Music is God’s idea, so there will be plenty of it in Heaven. I sure hope we enjoy the church services down here on earth. Also, I hope we praise the Lord and give Him glory and always LEAN toward giving God the glory for all the things we enjoy in Church services.
THE POINT GOD MADE IN HIS MESSAGE TO ZECHARIAH, was that their fasting and feasting was altogether for their own enjoyment and not to seek the face of God and be in submission to Him. Hearing good preaching is not as hard to figure out, although there is an element of entertainment in preaching. That’s what holds our attention.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3) Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JANUARY 23, 2019 - WEDNESDAY
A.M. Exodus 4-6 P.M. Matthew 16
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A Good Verse to Memorize:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psalm 91:1-2)
Song for Today:
Praise Him, Praise Him (3:48) (Orchestra -Wintley Phipps)
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When I was twelve and began working on hymns, this one by Fanny Crosby (1869) became my favorite song. It has zip and substance. It’s still one of my favorites and I break out singing this song more than any other. My first hymns were in the key of G and simple. This one jumps up into four flats and has a lilting rhythm. Wintley Phipps blesses me with his singing. He does a special-good job on this. When I get through here, I’ve got to go play this a while. The message is right! God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3)