ZECHARIAH - CHAPTER 7 The Oracles re. the 9th of AV. Print E-mail

 

 

ZECHARIAH – CHAPTER 7

Oracle of the Lord of Hosts

The 9th of Av---Fast of Tisha B’Av

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

August 13, 2019, the Year of Our Lord

 

I do not consider that it is without consequence that we are opening this chapter on the 13th day of Av on the Jewish calendar.  The ten day period known as bein hametzarim or “between the straits or narrow places” ended at sundown, August 11, 2019. 

I do not consider that it is without consequence that the movie, The Hunt, which features “Elites” hunting and killing “Deplorables” (Christians and Jews) was pulled on August 10, 2019.

The Satirical theme of the movie corresponds with the Jews being expelled from Spain in 1492.  

 “King Ferdinand decreed that by the end of July, Spain should be Judenrein. They were then given two days extra, until the second of August, the 9th of Av. The expelled Jews were now susceptible to capture, murder, looting, and wild beasts—both the four-legged and two-legged varieties.”

As Christians and through the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ, we cannot come into agreement with the curse of bein hametzarim. The Lord of Hosts speaks through His prophet, Zechariah, that the fast to grieve the destruction of the Temple on the 5th month and 7th day (Av) was not accepted by the Lord.

In chapter 8:19, the oracle of the Lord through Zechariah says that the fast of the fourth month, fifth month, seventh month, and the tenth month shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace..

 The first six chapters of Zechariah were visions and oracles.  Chapters 7 and 8 are prophetic oracles.

The Word of the Lord to Zechariah in this chapter rebukes the Jewish delegation from Babylon for fasting with wrong motives and takes us to the very essence of the heart of worship acceptable to the LORD.   Outward forms of religious activity are useless and lifeless without a spirit of obedience, confession and repentance.

The Prophet identifies the voice of God as Jehovah (Vs.1); and as The Lord of Hosts, (Vs.4 & 9-The Captain of Angel Armies).   When the Lord speaks as the Captain of Angel Armies in scripture, it is formidable, forceful, militant, and requires repentance with consequences.

Zech. 7:1-3: - And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu; When they had sent unto the house of God, Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD; and to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

The date is December 7, 518 B.C.  As a Bible scholar, I am always grateful when passages were dated.   Yet the oracles of God are timeless.  The spokesmen of the Lord speaking by the Holy Spirit uttering words which the Lord sends by His Spirit are a unifying decree through time and eternity.

Some commentaries go to great length to determine who these men were.  Obviously they were men of rank because they came with their men.  They are sent to enquire of the priests and prophets and they were to pray before the Lord.

The Jews in captivity prayed towards the temple, but now that it is was to be rebuilt, they send a delegation to pray in the temple and speak with the priests and prophets.  Prophets alongside priests belonged to the Temple staff.  In Chronicles, prophets are accorded Levitical status (1 Chr. 25:1).

They are asking about the Jewish tradition of fasting in the 5th month.   The fast in the fifth month is the day upon which the temple was destroyed (2 Kg. 25:8-9) by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  He burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house he burned with fire.

So for more than seventy years, the Jews in Babylon fasted on the 5th month on the 7th day of the month in grief over the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem.  This is the month of Av which is traditionally regarded as the most tragic in Jewish history. 

Lam 1:3 - Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwells among the heathen, she finds no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

This is a three week period which ended in 2019 at Sundown, August 11th. Listed below are tragic events which have affected the Jewish nation on the 9th of Av. 

  1. 1312 BCE, the slanderous report of the 10 spies is accepted and the decree was issued forbidding the Jews in the desert from entering the Land of Israel.
  2. 586 BCE, the First Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar.
  3. 70 BCE, the Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans.
  4. 135 CE, the Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
  5. 136 CE, the Temple Mount was plowed under, and Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city.
  6. 1096 CE, the First Crusade is officially commenced, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and Rhineland.
  7. 1290 CE, the Jews are expelled from England.
  8. 1492 CE, the Jews were expelled from Spain.
  9. 1914 CE, the outbreak of World War One.
  10. 1941 CE, Henrich Himmler received approval for “The Final Solution” which resulted in the Holocaust in which nearly one third of the world’s Jewish population perished.
  11. 1942 CE, the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.
  12. 1994 CE, the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 and injuring 300.
  13. 2005 CE, the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, expelling 8000 Jews from Gush Katif.  

The question of the delegation includes all the principle causes for fasting brought about by the calamities of former days.  Keep in mind only two of the above calamities had occurred on the 9th of Av during Zechariah’s time.

The voice of the delegation is saying, “But now with the restoration in full view, such ritual might well have lost its original and essential meaning.”

The prophet’s answer does not deal with the question, the LORD of Hosts answers through the Prophet:

Zech. 7:4-7: - Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did you at all fast unto me, even to me?  And when you did eat, and when you did drink, did not you eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? Should you not hear the words which the LORD has cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

Just as feasting was enjoyed in self-interest, so fasting was enjoyed in self-interest.  Fasting, then as now, was being under-taken for motives other than those for which self-denial was originally designed which was to set apart, to repent, seek, and worship the LORD.   

The earlier prophets had similarly observed a lack of true response in times when both cities and countryside were abundant with people and prosperity.  Zechariah reaffirms the word of the Lord given to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah---with a formidable challenge.

Zech 7:8-9: - And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

 

Administer true justice:  We as a nation in the 21st Century have watched as the scales of true justice have been denied our people due to corruption and treason in former administrations of government at the highest levels.  Sunday I gave a prophecy that even as Washington, D.C. is the world center of political and governmental power, so we will begin to see religious leaders attempt to set up a political and governmental seat of power within Washington, D.C.  We have received great favor for the advancement of Christianity; as well as favor for the Jewish people; but if the present Christian leaders are unwise and ambitious, they will lose that favor by presuming on setting up a house of power.  The Lord will require of the Church of the 21st century obedience and repentance.

 

True judgment, if it is to be Godlike, involves the recovery of equity and peace when there has been injustice and discord.

 

Mercy and steadfast love is the special quality which should mark all close personal relationships.  Hosea, especially, saw the breakdown of society epitomized in the lack of kindness.

 

Hos. 4:1 - Hear the word of the LORD, children of Israel: for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

 

The two formidable demands to execute judgment; and show mercy and compassion are followed by two warnings:

 

Zech. 7:10 - And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

 

Do not oppress those who are by their situation all too open to exploitation.  The fatherless includes the killing of babies in the womb.  In your hearts do not think (or speak) evil of each other.  Evil is here seen not only in false accusations, but in unseen and unspoken plans formulated in the secret thoughts. 

 

The lying spirit will accuse the brethren of things they haven’t even thought about.  A lying spirit will project on to others evil thoughts and cause people to believe it.  Be very wise with discernment that paranoia does not try to take over the mind with evil imagining resulting in evil maneuvers.

 

Without attention to God’s Kingdom purposes, fasting becomes a mere parade of ritualism which can lead to moral and spiritual disaster.

 

Zech. 7:11-12: But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts has sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts

 

The forefathers of Zechariah’s people had failed to pay attention to the oracles of God through the prophets in their time, but had stubbornly turned their backs.  They had stopped up their ears and deliberately refused to listen to the word of God.  They stifled their emotions making their hearts as hard as flint.

 

The prophets of former days and today are no less the spokesmen of the Lord.  They uttered words and do utter words which the Lord has sent by the Spirit.  This is the unifying voice of the Lord through all the generations of the earth and through eternity.  Just as there is no time in the Spirit, there is no measurement of the voice of the LORD to the generations.

 

 Zech. 7:13-14: Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, says the LORD of hosts.  But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

 

The Lord Almighty was very angry.  The history of Israel relates the wrath of God to the transgression of his revealed will in his covenant, since at the heart of that covenant lies an affirmation of God’s sovereignty.

 

God called to his people and found no response.  In their distress they cried to him and were given no answer except the consequences of his displeasure as they were blown like chaff in a whirlwind, and the pleasant land promised them ages before was devastated by fire and left desolate.

 

The Lord through Zechariah did not answer the question of the delegation.  Zechariah is Old Testament and considered the Word of the Lord by the Jews, yet the Jews have continued with these fasts as a memorial to the judgment of God.  I cannot say if their motive is to fast unto the Lord, repent, and come into obedience to the oracles of His prophets, or to fast for themselves.   

 

The Christian church, not only in the United States, but in the world continues in rituals which have the outward form of religious activity. All worship is useless and lifeless without obedience, confession and true repentance. 

 

Zechariah’s message given to him by the Lord of Hosts was not designed to dwell on the past, but to prepare the hearts of his hearers for renewal and change for the future.  So the terse words concerning failure and accompanying judgment now give place to a series of ten oracles in chapter 8 concerned with the fulfillment of God’s promises and the glorious future awaiting Zion and her people.

 

When God has been inquired of by man, Oracles (logion) of God are usually understood as answers from God through a prophet in response to the inquiry.  An Oracle in the Old Testament was the place in the Holy of Holies where God spoke to the priest. 

 

Zion for the New Testament church represents the whole Church.  The Church is the New Jerusalem, and a city which is set upon a hill.  That hill is Zion.  In a more specific sense, it represents those overcomers who attain to the high calling of God and who sit with Christ in the throne, sharing His Kingdom government.

 

  Heb 12:22-26: But you have come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven:

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

As we will study in chapter 8, the Jews believe that during the Messianic Era, it will be a day of rejoicing.  It is a mystery as to why these tragic events continue to occur on the 9th of Av.  Yet, as Christians, our Messiah has come.  His name is Jesus and we are in the Messianic Era. We are not under the curse of bein hametzarim. 

 

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

www.eastgateministries.com

Scripture from K.J.V.

I entered into the labors of F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary, David J. Ellis.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.

(The fast of the 7th month commemorated the assassination of Gedaliah Jer. 411)

 

 
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