What Matters to God
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 Chisleu;
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 7:1-3)
THE BIBLE TELLS US HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN AND HOW TO LIVE ON THE WAY to Heaven. Living on the way to Heaven involves two things: Love God. Love each other. That’s it. What do those two things look like? In the New Testament we have many summary statements. If we want things spelled out through narrative and everyday living, we go to the four Gospels of the New Testament.
THE BOOK OF LUKE IS ONE OF THE RICHEST BOOKS of narrative and illustration. But the greatest trove of godly living and ungodly living is in the Old Testament. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Corinthians 10:11)
I KEEP HARPING ON THE IDEA THAT WE CANNOT IGNORE THE OLD TESTAMENT and get a firm grip on the meaning of the New Testament. In our slow study of the Old Testament, Barbara and I are in the book of Zechariah. A remnant of Jews from Jerusalem and Judah that had returned from the 70-year Babylonian captivity, were rebuilding Solomon’s Temple that God destroyed by the hands of the army of Babylon. They finished the foundation of the new Temple, which came to be called Jerubbaal’s Temple.
BUT THEY HAD BECOME WEARY AND THEY HAD EXPERIENCED OPPOSITION from 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.
MEANTIME, THERE HAD DEVELOPED A TRADITION OF THE JEWS of having an annual time 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)
A DELEGATION WAS SENT FROM, POSSIBLY BETHEL (meaning: House of God) delegation was sent from, possibly Bethel (House of God) to find out from the priests and prophets in Jerusalem if they should continue to mourn and fast annually for the destruction of Solomon’s Temple since the construction of a new Temple was well on its way to being completed in another three years or so. (Zechariah 7) (Morris Study Bible)
THE NAMES OF THESE TWO PEOPLE SENT TO JERUSALEM to enquire for the others back home, indicate that they were part of the remnant that had returned from Babylon. Their names were: Sherezer and Regemmelech. These are Babylonian names, not Jewish names. We can assume that they had been born in Babylon or else their names had been changed from Jewish names. The Jews in Babylon had been fasting and praying also, in commemoration of the loss of their Temple built by Solomon.
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)
IT'S EASY TO SLIDE OVER THIS so we can hurry up and finish our daily Bible reading and get on with our day. Watch it! Let’s not do what these shallow Jews were doing.
WE MUST LOOK CAREFULLY AT WHAT GOD IS TELLING THESE PEOPLE AND PRIESTS. For 70 years they went through the rituals of fasting and eating special food and drink of a religious nature. They were willing to fast and eat 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 and special food and drink over the loss of their Temple built by Solomon, and they still had not repented. Fasting, yes. Repentance, no.
GOD HAD LEFT HEM ALONE ALL THESE YEARS while they went through with this phony fasting. God is saying: “OK, now that you have at last brought this up, I will tell you what really needs to be done. You have asked the priests and the prophets the wrong question.”
Please read the rest of Zechariah 7 and we will come back to the rest of the picture tomorrow.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JANUARY 21, 2019 - MONDAY
A.M. Genesis 49-50 P.M. Matthew 15-1:20
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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:
A How Great Thou Art (7:43) (Piano Solo - Kim Collingsworth)
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