Daily Devotional Friday 7th April 2023by William Moody
A Call for Justice and Mercy
7:1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. 2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the LORD, 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?”
4 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me: 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? 6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? 7 Were not these the words that the LORD proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”
8 And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.1 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. 13 “As I2 called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”
During the years of exile in Babylon it appears that people spent much of the fifth month fasting. Now the people of Bethel make the request about whether this fasting needs to continue (v1-3).
The first response of the Lord was about why they were fasting (v4-5). They are being questioned if they had done truly done it for the Lord or not?
Here is a real challenge about our religious and other good activities. Are we doing these truly out of love for the Lord or for other reasons? Other reasons can include looking good, feeling good, or to get some advantage.
The Lord challenges the people and speaks about how His desire is not primarily for fasting but for His people to act with justice, kindness and mercy to each other (8-10)?
We can be busy with religious activity, but for the Lord this counts for nothing if at the same time we fail to treat others fairly and kindly.
The Lord speaks of previous generations whose hearts were as hard as diamonds (v11-14) in regards His word and therefore suffered the judgment of being exiled among the nations. Is your heart soft and open to God’s word and rebuke, or is your heart hard and closed to God’s word?
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