Tag: City of Truth
Scripture reading for October 1st: Zechariah 7-8
In Zechariah’s day, the people were fasting in four different months. They had started this practice during the exile as a sign to God of their mourning over sin. Now that they were back in Jerusalem, they sought to know whether they should continue this practice. (Zechariah 7:2-3) God spoke to them by asking them some questions: “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past 70 years, was it really for Me that you fasted? And when eating and drinking, were you not feasting for yourselves?” (Zechariah 7:5-6) God knew that their religious rituals were not done from the heart but in form only. He tried to get them to admit this and repent.
God is after real heart change. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In you hearts do not think evil of each other.'” (Zechariah 7:9-10) True fasting produces results in our daily lives. (Isaiah 58:6-14) It is demonstrated by mercy and compassion on those who are broken and wounded. The widows and fatherless are of particular concern to God as well as the alien and poor. His people must not judge or speak evil, but work to build up and encourage those who are hurting.
God’s people did not respond earlier and because of their hardened hearts, He judged them by sending a whirlwind and scattering them among the nations. God put the blame on His people for their failure to respond to His word through the prophets. (Zechariah 7:13-14)
But God was now restoring Jerusalem and would again come and dwell among His people. They were to pay heed to His word and live a truly fasted life of compassion and service to their fellow men. God would bless their city, land, and personal lives as they obeyed. This required courage and a life consecrated to God. “Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts, do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord. (Zechariah 8:15b-17) True fasting is worked out in our lives each day. It is the state of a heart consecrated to God.