Reading through the Bible together
The word of God has power. It has power to reveal God Himself to us. It has power to elevate our thoughts, encourage and comfort us when we are down. The word of God has power to show how we truly are, and inspire us to be different.
However, if we harden our hearts like a stone, eventually the word of the Torah (the writings of Moses) cannot penetrate us. This was the problem of the ancient Israel. It will be our problem if we refuse to value the law of God and to listen to the Prophets, which were given to us by the Spirit of the Lord (Zech 7:11-12).
This chapter starts when the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. It was the fourth year of King Darius, which was 518 BC, two years before the rebuilding of the Temple was completed. This structure was not as beautiful as the old one, so the people were inquiring whether they should continue weeping as they had been doing for 70 years while in exile in Babylon. Zechariah brings them back in thought to 70 years before, showing them what their condition was which brought on the destruction of the Temple and caused them to be taken captive.
They were not following the instruction of God. As we read of their situation in the past, we become indignant about their behavior. However, the true reason we get so upset is because the description is so similar to what is happening around us today. We deeply sense God’s anger and His grief.
They were unjust in their judgments, they did not show loving-kindness and compassion to their people, and they oppressed the needy. God had admonished them through prophets, not to devise evil against their brothers, which they refused to do.
God asks in vv. 5-6: If you fast and mourn, do you do it for Me? If you eat and drink, is it not for yourself? (Compare with 1 Cor 1:31, where Paul says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”) What are the propelling motives which make us act the way we do? Is it really from our gratitude to the Lord who sacrificed Himself for our redemption? Or is it our self-seeking deep down in our hearts, even when we participate in worship and many religious activities?
Zechariah, starting from describing the conditions in the time of former prophets in chapter 7, also reaches beyond his own time to the first coming of Christ with His life and suffering (Zech 9:9; 11:12-13; 13:6,7), and to the final coming of Him to the earth after the millennium (Zech 14:4).
We are at the verge of His second coming. As we hear the prophet’s voice today, it is time for us to return to God. Let us turn to the Lord with a contrite spirit. Let’s seek the Lord earnestly and He will turn to hear us, as we are willing to listen to Him (v. 13).
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea