This study on Zechariah chapters 7-8 was given by pastor Barry Forder on 12th June 2022.
Chapters 7 & 8 are an historical interlude in the book of Zechariah, between the prophetic visions of the first six chapters and the prophetic climax to the book, from chapter 9-14.
In chapter 7 we see two individuals sent down from Jerusalem to Bethel (The House of God), to ask whether they should continue to keep the fasts they had been observing in the fifth month.
It was on the 5th month (from the 5th to the 10th day) that the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar has destroyed and burned the temple and city of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. During their time in Babylon, the Jews had commemorated this time by fasting and mourning for the city and temple. But now they were back in the land the question is asked, do they need to continue this practice, after all, it wasn’t like the Feast of Moses that they were instructed to keep.
God’s response through Zechariah was to question why they had kept the fasts in the fist place. Was it for God they had done it? Or was is it for themselves? What was their motive?
God them reminds them of the Nation’s history that had led up to the captivity in the first place. It had been characterised by injustice, cruelty, and the leaders of the nation, in particular, had hardened their hearts toward God, not wanting to hear His Law or Prophets.
God now asks in effect, are your hearts still hard? Are you concerned about your ways or my ways? When you ‘celebrate’ your fasts, in the 5th month (when the city and temple were destroyed), or in the 7th month (when Gedaliah, the governor of Judah was assassinated), or in the 10th month (the anniversary of when the siege of Jerusalem had begun), are you celebrating with your thoughts on God? Or are you merely following a ritualistic practice, thinking that in some way, this makes God pleased?
God is not looking for sacrifice (or fasting), but for hearts that are His. If sacrifice and fasting follow, that is fine, but it has to be out of the overflow of a heart seeking God, and not just a religious practice.
In Chapter 8 God goes on to say how much He loves Israel, and thought He had to chasten them, He will restore them. The land will once again be filled with the young anf old living in security and prosperity, and the whole world will know that the Lord is with Israel.
This will not be fully realised until the Messiah returns and sits on the Throne of David, ruling over the whole earth from Jerusalem.. but God Has promised and is able to perform it! (Rom 4:21)
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study.