In The Word
Read Zechariah 7
Hearts like Flint
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. Now the town of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech and their men to seek the favor of the Lord,speaking to the priests who belong to the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,“Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves? Are not these the words which the Lordproclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited andprosperous along with its cities around it, and the Negev and the foothills were inhabited?’”
Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying, “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ But theyrefused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through theformer prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts; “but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate.”
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
This time it is not a vision, but just the Word of the Lord that came to Zechariah. The town sent messengers to seek the favor of the Lord from the priests. The messengers asked them if they should continue their religious ritual of weeping and fasting as they did every year. The messengers probably didn’t expect the answer they received. The Lord asked if they performed the ritual these seventy years for Him or for themselves. Instead of performing fake religious rituals, the Lords said that they should practice true justice, kindness, and compassion toward each other; they needed to stop devising evil in their hearts. The people turned a deaf ear and a stubborn shoulder; they made their hearts hard like stone. They ignored the Lord’s call to repentance, and therefore His great wrath was upon them.
It’s easy to sit back and wonder how the people could have acted so foolishly. However, many people today still fall into the same trap. They blindly follow empty religious rituals simply for the sake of tradition. The act could have started with right intentions, but it has become something done just out of routine and obligation. Religious routine may make people seem like they are serving God, but, in reality, they are really only serving themselves. The Lord desires obedience rather than sacrifice; He desires that we listen and act on His Word. When we obey, He can remove the heart of stone and replace it with a sensitive heart. He will replace it with a heart like His own.