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? (Zechariah 7:7)
LET'S REVIEW AGAIN. 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.
SOME OF THE JEWISH CAPTIVES IN BABYLON had been fasting and feasting four times a year in Babylon, grieving over the destruction of Solomon’s temple and the city of Jerusalem. They were back home now. They had a question for the priests and prophets in Jerusalem. Since another temple was being built, should they discontinue their annual fasting for Solomon’s temple?
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)
GOD HEARD THEIR QUESTION AND GAVE ZECHARIAH THE PROPHET an answer to their question through a rhetorical question. That was an established practice of the Jews in those days. Answer a question with a question that contains the answer. In summary, shouldn’t these returning Jews remember the preaching of the former prophets? Never mind your four annual fasting days you have invented. That’s not important at all.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU COMPLETELY IGNORED WHAT I TOLD YOU while you were well off and the nation was prosperous and peaceful. God said to them, I told you back then through my prophets that you need to change some things and you completely ignored Me. That’s what we need to talk about. Repentance. This is a much bigger issue than the fact that they sort of enjoyed their fasting and feasting four times a year over the loss of their temple and city.
WELL, EXACTLY WHAT WERE GOD'S PROPHETS TELLING THEM that they ignored? When something is between us and God it’s always something between us and God or something between us and another human being. When I read through the Old Testament and see what a big mess people got themselves into with God, I like to look at it good and see what they did to sign their own death warrant or some lighter chastisement.
SOMETIMES GOD WITHHELD RAIN FOR THEIR CROPS. Sometimes He sent insects to eat up their crops. Sometimes He closed the wombs of the women, so they did not bear children or their animals were disrupted in giving birth. Sometimes He sent their warring neighbors to haul them off as in the case of the northern ten tribes to Assyria and they vanished from sight. Judah was sent to Babylon for 70 years and reappeared to rebuild what had been destroyed.
HERE'S WHAT HEY WERE DOING. It’s spelled out by Zechariah who gave the solution. And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 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. (Zechariah 7:8-10)
WHEN GOD REACHED OUT TO THEM TO CORRECT THEM, they wouldn’t have it; But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. 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. (Zechariah 7:11-12)
WELL, HOW DID THAT WORK FOR THEM? What did they gain by rebelling against God?
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: 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 land desolate. (Zechariah 7:13-14) When the Jews were removed from their land, the land grew up with thorns and bushes and wild animals.
I'VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD HOW A LOST MAN THINKS HE HAS THE UPPER HAND ON GOD since God holds a man’s breath and his heartbeat in His hand. Lost man, do you really think you are in charge? Please listen to me; you are not in charge. You are fragile and pitiful and short-lived. You are no match for God. But He loves you and sent His Son to die for you and that’s the only shot you’ve got for anything good on a permanent basis.
IT'S ALWAYS THE HEART THING. God looks on our hearts (1Samuel 16:7). If we are going to be saved its: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
ISAIAH COMPLAINED THAT THE PEOPLE were drawing near to God with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far from Him. (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus quoted Isaiah: (Matthew 15:8-9) A perfumed pig with polished toenails is still a pig. He’ll look for a mud hole because he has the heart of a pig. A suit of clothes and a haircut does not change the heart of a man. The prodigal son did not go home until he came to himself.
JESUS GAVE AWAY A BIG SECRET WHEN HE TALKED TO THE SAMARITAN WOMAN at the well: Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:21-23)
THE FATHER IS LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. If you’re not interested in what God thinks about it, you’re not there yet. That’s why I post on FaceBook: “Do you care what God thinks about it?” When I was studying counseling and psychology I learned some time-wasting things that I had to discard when I began talking to real people and real problems. Waiting around until lightening strikes the understanding of a stubborn, troubled soul is a waste of my time and their time. That was called “non-directive counseling.”
THEN I CAME ACROSS JAY ADAMS' BOOK and it was “directive counseling.” The first thing to do is to find out if the troubled person will submit to the authority of God. If not, wait until they are in the hospital or prison or bankruptcy or at least until they have been reduced and humbled enough to accept God’s authority. Then you can talk. I look for indications that God is big in their sight. If God is little in a man’s sight, you can’t help him/her. You can’t teach a man anything who already knows everything. You can’t fill a glass with water that’s already full of something else.
WHEN SATAN APPROACHED EVE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, his fatal blow to her was the question: “Yea, hath God said?” If Satan can get a man to elevate his opinion on the level with what God thinks about it, he has effectively destroyed him. Everything rises and falls on that one question.
THAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH THE JEWS who were trashing their fellow Jews and God was watching it all the time. They had cast aside God’s authority. At last, God said: “That’s enough. The Babylonians are coming with chains for you in the morning at nine o’clock.” And it took them 70 years to learn anything. Correction: Some of them hadn’t learned anything in 70 years. They were substituting religious fasting and feasting for God’s instructions to repent.
DO YOU THINK IT'S DIFFERENT TODAY? It is the same today. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31) It’s not merely, Jesus Christ. It’s the LORD JESUS CHRIST. If you are LORD then Christ is nothing and you are lost and facing eternity cursed of God. I can’t save you. You can’t save yourself. But, if you will believe God and repent of your independence from God, if you will stop trying to take God’s place, then you can do business with Him.
THE PROMISED CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS ON THE CROSS as God planned it for you. That’s your only hope. If you will humble your heart and accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, then you have everything you need to get into Heaven. Anything short of that and you’re not going to that city. Heaven is for saved people, only.
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)
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JANUARY 24, 2019 - THURSDAY
A.M. Exodus 4-6 P.M. Matthew 16
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
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:
Keep on the Firing Line (2:39) (Men’s Ensemble – Cal. M.Church
Move the time line to the left to zero.
(You may have to adjust the volume and delete an ad.)