Zechariah gives great hope and encouragement about the coming Messiah Jesus Christ, who will set up His throne and rule as the mighty Branch, the High Priest, who will offer up the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices” (Zechariah 6:12-13). Bible Hub.com/
By now the studious of Bible students should realize that Zechariah is mostly about the return of Jesus as king of kings and High Priest in End Time. As Bible Hub.com puts it, Zechariah gives great hope and encouragement. Now Zechariah gets very, very personal. We begin with a modern-day question: Why do you go to church? What is the real purpose? Does one’s action support his or her claim as to why? What does fellowship really mean? Where does God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit fit into the actions and activities of church services, fellowship, dinners, church gatherings, sing-spirations, even prayer, communion…? Does the Holy Spirit need to be a line item in the church bulletin? Is church little more than a tradition or upbringing is has one made following Christ a way of his or her life?
This is precisely what Zechariah is told by God to ask his people who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, few as they may have been, for what reason do you celebrate tradition? Up to chapter 7 we hear messages to Zechariah as from the Angel or an angel of the Lord or something similar. Now we read, “THE WORD OF THE LORD or something similar depending on the translation version. This is only a slight change in wording. Does it have significance?
Verse 11 of chapter 7 is a critical turning point, even so in today’s church settings. Here is an example of what we are about to learn in Zechariah 7.
One Sunday a preacher was condemning dishonesty, drinking of liquor, carousing, lack of child control in the church sanctuary, and on and on. After each stated sin, a lady in the front row shouted “AMEN”. Then the preacher said, one of the great sins in this church is the backbiting and gossip. At this point the same woman shouted out, “You have gone too far preacher. Now you are getting personal.”
JIV NOTE: To a point, this message was to all Israelis, not just those of Judah (Jews). It even goes back to those who the Assyrians dispersed after conquering the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.
When one reads in scripture the ‘whatever month’ or the ‘on whatever day’ such and such happened, few take the time to translate this to our Gregorian Calendar of January – December. Zechariah is specific about this date and time. Yes, it is history with which we can cross reference other historical events as taught in schools and colleges minus their emphasis or even mentioning its relationship to HIS-(s)tory. Here is a chart to reference when this date thing happens in one’s studies in scripture.
Nissan 30 days…………………………………….
Iyar 29 days…………………………………….
Sivan 30 days…………………………………….
Tammuz 29 days…………………………………….
Av 30 days…………………………………….
Elul 29 days…………………………………….
Tishri 30 days…………………………………….
Heshvan sometimes 29, sometimes 30…..
Kislev same as Heshvan……………………..
Tevet 29 days…………………………………….
Shevat 30 days…………………………………….
Adar sometimes 29, sometimes 30…..
Adar2 29 days…………………………………….
March – April
Due to the variation in days within each month of both calendars, the overlap of the Hebrew with the Gregorian calendar months is unavoidable. Even the total days of the Hebrew year and Gregorian year vary but this is a good guide for those who are curious. This oddity includes differing New Year dates.
The date of Zechariah 7:1, 4th day of the 9th month of Chislev (Kislev) is December 4, 518 B.C. A fast day was soon to come so this delegation sought guidance. The occasion to weep and cry would be on the 7th day of their 5th month [our July]. The reason to send Sharezer and Regem-melech to the few priests who returned from Babylon with the other exiles was to ask about this Judaism tradition. The asked “do we cry out or weep again over the loss of the Temple 70 some years prior”? Odd as this may sound, these returning exiles were supposed to be rebuilding the very Temple over which this question is poised. In today’s cultures we call it crying over spilt milk. The container of milk is still within reach. The milk has already been spilled. Today the wise one would say, “clean up the mess and refill the cup”. In this time of Zechariah, it would mean, clean up the rubble and rebuild the Temple as you were originally instructed. The returning Judeans were not intrigued with this hard labor. They soon fell away.
Zechariah 7:3 “…saying to the priests of the house of the LORD of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” How do we know today that this was nothing more than a tradition? The final eight words in verse 3 are specific. This has been done for many years. What happened to them to give cause for this traditional “weeping”? Answer: This was the time of the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians according to II Kings 25:8-9.
The BIG modern-day question comes in Zechariah 7:4, 5.
Zec 7:4 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me:
Zec 7:5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?
This dilemma continues as Zechariah points out in verse 6 as a word or question from God… “And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?”
JIV: 2020 translation of verses 4 & 5. When we go to church is it to worship or to be fashionable; to meet those you have not seen since last week, same time, same channel? Is it simply something you have always done? Is it out of obligation, routine, or commitment to God?
This is precisely what Zechariah is asking his fellow countrymen. The ‘proof in their pudding’ is their long delay in rebuilding the Temple. This is a very serious question we all must personally consider.
Zechariah 7:7 in short is saying, [paraphrased] “aren’t you a little late”? The Temple is no longer, and you are supposed to be rebuilding it.” Zechariah takes full advantage of this opportunity to, as Dale Carnegie put it in his books, Win Friends and Influence People. But just the opposite reaction happened. Zechariah was setting the stage for his eventual death by his own people. More on this later.
Instead of giving a direct answer to their question of weeping for the loss of their Temple 70 plus years earlier, Zechariah turns their attention to practical matters.
- Give true and honest judgements
- Practice kindness and pity (a pity including tangible help)
- Do not oppress the widows (and the underprivileged)
- Do not oppress or take advantage of the fatherless, visitor, poor
- Do not devise evil in one’s heart
Now we are back to our opening statement per Zechariah 7:11. [LITV] But they refused to listen, and gave a stubborn shoulder, and they made their ears heavy from hearing. This alone points out their oppressive and untruthful worship attitudes. Everything was based upon “this is the way we have always done it”. It is so true of the churches today where the Lord’s Prayer is a ritual, a tradition, not an honest prayer or people trying to delude themselves into thinking this is some type of God-sanctioned prayer and the same people’s primary prayer life is quoting it in. We ignore the fact that in the very same Lord’s Prayer chapters of Luke 11 AND Matthew 6, it states one is to first go into their prayer closet (alone), shut the door, do not be distracted and pray alone with God. Only after this does Jesus explain a pattern for praying…alone in one’s prayer closet. So why is it done in a public setting when scripture tells us otherwise? Well, this is the way we have always done it. It is an ancient tradition, just like the Jews of Zechariah’s time. There is nothing honest about taking scripture out of its context. To those who react with a hardened heart toward the first few verses in Luke 11, it parallels the attitude of the returned Judeans. They hardened their hearts and would not listen; stopped up their ears.
The so-called parishioners of tradition end up hating the one who told the truth from the pulpit, Bible study, board meeting, in a conversation. How dare one change our traditions. These Judeans ended up hating their messenger…Zechariah. “When you pray, do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners” [Matthew 6:5].
Study the word of God within its contents so one can find the true context.
Rev. Dr. Jstark