- Zech. 7:1-8:23
- Ezra 6:14-22
In today's reading, the people of Bethel went to the priests to ask the LORD whether they should continue mourning and fasting at a specific time each year, as their custom had been. The LORD spoke to Zechariah and His reply is the basis for today's devotional.
4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’”
8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
(Zech. 7:4-10 NIV)
So what is GOD saying here? First, it matters to Him why we are doing something and not just that we are doing it. Apparently these people from Bethel had been fasting and mourning, but they weren't doing it towards GOD. Second, GOD isn't primarily concerned with our religious acts—scheduled fasting and mourning, in this case—as much as He is that we live righteously on a daily basis. It isn't that fasting and mourning are unimportant to GOD; rather, it's that if we do those things and fail to do the basics, then we've missed the point.
Temple Construction Completed
In the year 516 B.C., the Israelites completed the temple construction, setup the priestly roles and observed the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread at the prescribed time.