Friday, August 21, 2015

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 23, 2015

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(GOD demands justice)
(Zechariah 7)

The book of the post-exilic prophet, Zechariah, begins with a series of eight visions (chapters 1-6) that depict in very graphic language, the full power that GOD has over all human events. These visions also speak to the importance of spiritual strength, the judgment of GOD on sin, and the promise of better times ahead for those who believe and trust in GOD. Those eight visions are followed by a series of updated messages that embody both, encouragement, and, further admonishments from the LORD.  
There are two themes that are emphasized in the book of Zechariah that should be of special interest to all Christians today. First, it is a book that is filled with detailed references to the first advent of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR. They include references of JESUS’ lowliness and 100 % humanity (Zechariah 6:20), and, HIS kingship (Zechariah 6:13, 9:9, 14:9 & 14:16).
The second theme that should be of interest to Christians is the motif of “eschatology” (the systematic study of the “End Times”) that is contained in the final section of the book in chapters 12-14. These chapters focus on the coming of the “Messianic Age” where Jerusalem and GOD’s people will, at last, become truly holy (obedient to GOD).
Here in Zechariah 7, however, we see a call for justice and mercy among GOD’s people, and a change in the treatment of the Jews toward one another, and toward GOD. GOD did not wish HIS people to be as their ancestors were, concerning their unGODly conduct against HIM, and, by plugging their “spiritual ears” so that they could not hear the words of HIS prophets, who, were ushered along by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT (v.12).
During the fourth year of the Persian King Darius’ reign, another message came to the prophet Zechariah from the LORD. At that time the people of Bethel had sent a contingent of men, led by Sharezer and Regemmelech, to seek the LORD’s favor on them. Their charge from the people of Bethel was to ask the prophets and the priests at the Temple, whether or not they should continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple destruction by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, as they had done since the time the exile began (Vs.1-3).
The LORD instructed Zechariah to tell the men from Bethel, and their priests these words;
 “During those seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and at the festival in early autumn, was it really for ME that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, you don’t think about ME but only of pleasing yourselves” (Vs.4-6 - NLT).

It was the same message that the LORD had proclaimed through the prophets years ago, all while Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and even the Negev and the foothills of Judah were heavily populated areas. In verses 9-10 of this passage we see yet another message to Israel from the LORD, through HIS beloved prophet, where HE says;

“Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And do not make evil plans to harm each other” (NLT).

Zechariah 7, verses 4-10 is undoubtedly one of the clearest expressions in the bible, concerning the heart of GOD. There HE tells us quite simply that man should honor HIM through our daily behavior, and our positive relationships with each other, and not through the various rituals (i.e. playing church) that satisfy only ourselves.
When our forefathers refused to listen to GOD, HE judged them accordingly. Hopefully, we in this generation will begin to learn from history, and then humble ourselves and repent, lest history repeats itself, and we ourselves be judged in like manner.
Prior generations in Israel had not heeded this same message that GOD had given to the pre-exilic prophets. They had steadfastly turned a deaf ear to all of GOD’s warnings, and they had hardened their hearts to a point that it simply prevented them from hearing HIS laws, or the messages that were sent by HIS SPIRIT, through those prophets of yore. And since the people would not listen to HIM, GOD, in return, would not listen to the desperate cries of HIS wayward people when they were in distress. Instead, HE scattered them into distant lands where they were forced to live as strangers, and their own land became like a desert, and went virtually uninhabited for a total of 70 years.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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