Zechariah
Chapter 7

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1 And it came to passe in the fourth yeere of King Darius, that the word of the Lord came vnto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth moneth, euen in Chisleu.

2 When they had sent vnto the house of God, Sherezer and Regem-melech, and their men to pray before the Lord,

3 And to speake vnto the priestes, which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weepe in the fift moneth, separating my selfe, as I haue done these so many yeeres?

4 Then came the word of the Lord of hosts vnto me, saying,

5 Speake vnto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fift and seuenth moneth, euen those seuenty yeeres; did ye at all fast vnto me, euen to me?

6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drinke, did not ye eat for your selues, and drinke for your selues?

7 Should yee not heare the wordes, which the Lord hath cried by the former Prophets, when Ierusalem was inhabited, and in prosperitie, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the South of the plaine?

8 And the word of the Lord came vnto Zechariah, saying;

9 Thus speaketh the Lord of hostes, saying, Execute true iudgement, and shew mercie and compassions euery man to his brother.

10 And oppresse not the widow, nor the fatherlesse, the stranger, nor the poore, and let none of you imagine euill against his brother in your heart.

11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their eares, that they should not heare.

12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should heare the Law, and the wordes which the Lord of hostes hath sent in his spirit by the former Prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hostes.

13 Therefore it is come to passe, that as he cried, and they would not heare, so they cried, and I would not heare, saith the Lord of hostes.

14 But I scattered them with a whirlewinde among all the nations, whom they knew not: thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through, nor returned: for they layed the pleasant land desolate.

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Commentary for Zechariah 7

The captives' inquiry respecting fasting. (1-7) Sin the cause of their captivity. (8-14)1-7 If we truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and ministers, but seek his direction by fervent prayer. Those who would know God's mind should consult God's ministers; and, in doubtful cases, ask advice of those whose special business it is to search the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purpose. There was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in it. Holy exercises are to be done to God, looking to his word as our rule, and his glory as our end, seeking to please him and obtain his favour; but self was the centre of all their actions. And it was not enough to weep on fast days; they should have searched the Scriptures of the prophets, that they might have seen what was the ground of God's controversy with their fathers. Whether people are in prosperity or adversity, they must be called upon to leave their sins, and to do their duty.

8-14 God's judgements upon Israel of old for their sins, were written to warn Christians. The duties required are, not keeping fasts and offering sacrifices, but doing justly and loving mercy, which tend to the public welfare and peace. The law of God lays restraint upon the heart. But they filled their minds with prejudices against the word of God. Nothing is harder than the heart of a presumptuous sinner. See the fatal consequences of this to their fathers. Great sins against the Lord of hosts, bring great wrath from his power, which cannot be resisted. Sin, if regarded in the heart, will certainly spoil the success of prayer. The Lord always hears the cry of the broken-hearted penitent; yet all who die impenitent and unbelieving, will find no remedy or refuge from miseries which while here they despised and defied, but which they then will not be able to bear.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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