Zechariah 7 (Ritualism leads to wrath)
Summary: Two years pass. The people ask God if they should fast and mourn, keeping the rituals they had in the past (vv.1-3). God says that these religious observances were actually selfish (vv.5-6). The “earlier prophets” (v.7; cf. Isa. 58) had already covered this. The people were dead set on the rituals, refusing to listen (v.11) and hardening their hearts (v.12). This is similar to James 1:27. “Religion” always usurps God’s desires and plans.
(7:1) Historically, this is two years later. The date is December 518 BC.
(7:2-3) The people of Bethel wanted to know if they should continue a ritual fast that they had learned in the Exile. These names (Sharezer and Regemmelech) are Babylonian, so they were probably Jews who had been born during the Exile. These fast were created in the Exile, but should they continue to do these? This delegation brought this question to the priests and the prophets.
(7:4-5) God rebuked this extrabiblical, ritualistic fast. He accuses the people of doing this for themselves. This might imply that the people were really fasting to expedite their judgment and get back into the land.
(7:6) Fasting can be just as self-serving as feasting!
(7:7) The “former prophets” probably includes at least Isaiah (Isa. 58).
(7:8-10) The people were focusing on fasting, rather than loving others and upholding justice for the marginalized (cf. Jas. 1:27). Barker writes, “They were guilty of legalism: an external adherence to the letter of the law while disregarding the internal spirit—the true divine intent of the law.”
(7:11) Zechariah addresses their ancestors. He is reminding his current generation what their forefathers did to warrant judgment.
(7:12) God inspired the prophets to speak.
(7:13) The problem wasn’t with God’s call, but with their hardened hearts.
(7:14) This is why the original generation was exiled.
For additional studies this week, listen to Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s Zechariah sermons/studies: https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=7088&rel=mcgee_j_vernon/Zec
Overview of the Visions:
Download the whole PDF to print here: https://534ce549-29fe-497d-9d12-17fa4e21c288.usrfiles.com/ugd/534ce5_6211462369ca44dbbf69b4f908e55a90.pdf