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6. Zechariah 7: “How to Ruin Your Religion and Your Life”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 6/17/2010

(edited June 2019)

 

Verse 1: 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;”

 

Zechariah lived at a time of restoration for the nation of Israel. The Medes (modern day Iran) had taken over Babylon (modern day Iraq) at that time and permitted God’s People to return to their homeland in Palestine.

 

Verses 2-3: 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?”

 

A “religious” delegation is sent to Jerusalem to ask a question about their rituals and religious practice.

 

Verse 4: Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto me, saying,”

 

Zechariah is moved by the Spirit of God to answer these questions. But unlike his ten wonderful visions, this message will be different and much more PRACTICAL:

 

Verses 5-6: 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?”

 

Exactly how had Israel ruined their worship services? How had they wound up defeated and captive in Babylon for 70 years?

 

Verse 7: 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?”

They had ignored God’s clear message to them even before their captivity when it had come through men like Jeremiah and Isaiah. Will they hear it now? (Hey, will we hear it today?) This is God’s plan for his people, then and now:

 

Verses 8-10: “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.”

 

People sometimes say that the gentleness and love of Christ just can’t be found in the God of the Old Testament – they must have skipped over this little book of Zechariah!

 

Verse 11: But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.”

 

70 years prior, the people of God had rejected this message.

 

Verse 12: 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.”

 

This is recorded for our benefit, I think, not to bring shame to them anymore. It should put to shame all of us who still, even under the New Covenant, will not listen and obey it.

 

Verse 13: 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:”

 

So there it is, there’s the result: a ruined religion AND a ruined life:

 

Verse 14: 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.”

 

You can’t say you are turning to God without also turning to those around you who are in need. The Lord will not permit it—no matter how many steeples we build or golden altars. Over 500 years later, Jesus put it this way in Matthew chapter 22, verses 35-40 as He was answering a question:

“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

 

To doubt, reject, or ignore Christ’s clear message today, whether you consider yourself to be in or out of the Church, is the road to ruin.

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