"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (7:1-8:23) INTRODUCTION 1. Thus far in our survey of the book of Zechariah... a. We noticed "A Call To Repentance" - Zech 1:1-6 b. We surveyed the "Visions In The Night", of which there were eight 1) The rider and the horses - Zech 1:7-17 2) The four horns and four craftsmen - Zech 1:18-21 3) The man with the measuring line - Zech 2:1-13 4) Joshua the high priest - Zech 3:1-10 5) The gold lampstand and two olive trees - Zech 4:1-14 6) The flying scroll - Zech 5:1-4 7) The woman in a basket - Zech 5:5-11 8) The four chariots - Zech 6:1-8 c. We considered "The Command To Crown Joshua" - Zech 6:9-15 2. In these different ways God used Zechariah... a. To motivate Joshua, Zerubbabel, and the captives who returned with them to rebuild the temple - cf. Ezra 6:14-15 b. To increase their anticipation of the future as well, as they would wonder about the fulfillment of these visions 3. Zechariah's work was not yet finished... a. About two years later, as the temple was still in construction, he was asked concerning the observance of certain fasts b. This provided the Lord the opportunity to do two things: 1) To remind the people of what prompted their exile 2) To once again proclaim His great zeal for Zion (Jerusalem) [An important lesson or two can be gleaned from this section (Zech 7:1-8:23)
that Christians would do well to remember. Also, God's zeal for Zion as expressed in this section appears to have Messianic ramifications...] I. THE QUESTION ABOUT THE FIFTH MONTH FAST A. THE PRIESTS ARE ASKED... 1. In the fourth year of King Darius (ca. 518 B.C., nearly two years later) - Zech 7:1 2. When the people send messengers - Zech 7:2 B. THE PEOPLE WISH TO KNOW... 1. Should they continue to weep and fast in the fifth month? - Zech 7:3 2. The fifth month was the time of the year the temple was destroyed nearly seventy years before - cf. 2Ki 25:8,9; Jer 52:12,13 [Perhaps because the temple was being rebuilt, they wanted to know if they should continue with a fast designed to commemorate the temple's destruction. In response, the Lord challenges them to evaluate their devotion...] II. THE FAILURE OF THE PEOPLE REVIEWED A. THEIR FASTS: FOR THE LORD, OR FOR THEMSELVES? 1. In addition to the fast on the fifth month, there was one on the seventh (mourning the murder of Gedaliah - cf. 2Ki 25:25; Jer 41:1-3) 2. These fasts were developed during their seventy year exile 3. But the people are challenged to consider whether they had been serving themselves or the Lord in keeping these fasts - Zech 7:4-6 4. The Lord would have preferred them to obey Him from the beginning - Zech 7:7 5. Note: Which is better... a. To worship God as He first instructed? b. Or to develop traditions to bemoan your state after you have disobeyed Him? -- Clearly God desired the former B. THEIR EXILE WAS BECAUSE OF THEIR SINS... 1. The Lord had asked them to display justice, mercy and compassion - Zech 7:9-10 2. But the people refused to hear, so God scattered them among the nations - Zech 7:11-14 [Their fasting, while appearing to express devotion for the loss of the temple, should never have been necessary. If they had served God to begin with, there would be no need to fast! As the Lord continues, He explains why their fasts should now be occasions for feasting...] III. A TIME FOR FEASTING, NOT FASTING A. THE LORD'S ZEAL FOR JERUSALEM... 1. The Lord is zealous for Zion with great zeal - Zech 8:1-2 2. He will return to Zion, and dwell in Jerusalem - Zech 8:3a 3. Jerusalem will be called "the City of Truth", "The Mountain of the LORD of hosts", and "The Holy Mountain" - Zech 8:3b B. THE LORD'S FUTURE FOR JERUSALEM... 1. It will be place of peace for the elderly and young - Zech 8:4-6 2. The Lord will bring His remnant back, and He shall be their God - Zech 8:7-8 3. Those building the temple should take heart, for the Lord shall make them a blessing - Zech 8:9-13 4. Just as God once sought their punishment, now He is determined to do good for them - Zech 8:14-15 C. THE LORD'S DESIRE FOR JERUSALEM... 1. For the people to speak truth, show justice and peace, not evil (to do what should have been done before the exile!)- Zech 8:16-17 2. To let the fasts be a time for joy, gladness and cheerful feasts - Zech 8:18-19 a. The fast of the fourth month had commemorated the breaching of the walls when Jerusalem was destroyed - 2Ki 25:3,4;Jer 52:6,7 b. The fast of the fifth month commemorated the destruction of the temple c. The fast of the seventh month commemorated the murder of Gedaliah d. The fast of the tenth month commemorated the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem - 2Ki 25:1,2; Jer 39:1; 52:4,5 -- But now these were to be replaced with feasting! D. THE LORD'S PROMISE FOR JERUSALEM... 1. Many nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem - Zech 8:20-22 2. People of every language will seek to know the God of the Jews - Zech 8:23 CONCLUSION 1. How comforting and exciting this must have been to those in Zechariah's day! a. It certainly should have encouraged them to continue with rebuilding the temple b. It should have encouraged them to look forward to the future 2. While there may have been a partial fulfillment to these prophecies with the rebuilding of the temple and walls of Jerusalem, it is likely that there are Messianic elements as well... a. With fulfillment beginning with the establishment of the church in Jerusalem - cf. Isa 2:2-3; Ac 2:1-47; He 12:22 b. With fulfillment culminating with the ushering in of the "New Jerusalem" in the "new heavens and new earth" following the Lord's second coming - cf. He 11:16; 13:14; 2Pe 3:10-13; Re 21:1-22:5 3. Finally, is there a not a lesson to be learned about "self-imposed religion"? a. The exiles had begun fasting by their own design b. What the Lord preferred was for them to have heeded His Word in the beginning! c. Jesus taught that man-made traditions lead to vain worship - Mt 15:8-9 d. Paul described the inability of self-imposed religion to deal with the flesh - Col 2:20-23 If we desire to truly be citizens in the "New Jerusalem", then let's concentrate on doing the will of the Father, not on making up new ways to worship Him. As Jesus warned: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Mt 7:21) In our acts of devotion, are we doing the Father's will, or things devised by men?