Zechariah 7-8 Integrity

                INTEGRITY
        Zechariah 7:1-8:23 July 29 2007

        Zechariah had been ministering in Jerusalem
    for about two years when God gave him the
    messages recorded in chapters 7-8. A delegation
    of people from Bethel came to Jerusalem to
    inquire from the priests and prophets if they
    should continue some fasts they had begun in
    Babylonian exile. Through a prophetic message
    God raised some questions about the people’s
    integrity. Did they observe those fasts just for
    the lord or just for themselves (Zech.7:1-7).
        He encouraged his hearer to obey God’s
    commands and avoid God’s judgment on them
    (Zech.7:8-14).
        Zechariah 8:1-23 is God’s message of comfort
    and encouragement to those who returned to
    Jerusalem. In prophetic messages the Lord usually
    followed His message of judgment on sin with a
    promise of hope and salvation based on the hearer’s
    repentance.

    1. Check Your Motives (Zech. 7:1-7)

Zech. 7:1   In the fourth year of King Darius, the word
of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the
ninth month, the month of Kislev. 7:2   The people of
Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech, together
with their men, to entreat the LORD7:3   by asking the
priests of the house of the LORD Almighty and the
prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month,
as I have done for so many years?” 7:4   Then the word
of the LORD Almighty came to me:  7:5   “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?
 7:6   And when you were eating and drinking, were you
not just feasting for yourselves?  7:7   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?’ ”

    Fourth year. . . Fourth day. . . Ninth month. Dec.
    7, 518 B.C .—not quite two years after the eight
    night visions (Zech. 1:7).
    Prophets. Including Zechariah. I. The people of
    Bethel collectively. Fast in the fifth month..
    (Zech. 8:19). So many years. “The past seventy
    years” (Zech.7: 5).
    (Zech.7:4-7) A rebuke for selfish and insincere
    fasting on the part of the people and the priests.
    (Zech.7:4,8 ; 6:9). Fasted. . . Fifth and Seventh.
    (Zech.8:19). Seventy years (Zech.1:12 ). Since
    these fasts commemorated events related to the
    destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Zech.
    8:19), the 70 years here are to be reckoned from
    586 B.C. Strictly speaking, 68 years had
    transpired; 70 is thus a round number.
    For yourselves( Isa 1:11-17; 58:1-7,13-14).
    (Zech.7:7,12) Earlier Prophets. (Zech.1:4;7:7) Negev.
    (Ge 12:9). Western foothills. Sloping toward the
    Mediterranean.

    2. Express Your Integrity (Zech. 7:8-10)
Zech. 7:8   And the word of the LORD came again to
Zechariah: 7:9   “This is what the LORD Almighty
says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and
compassion to one another. 7:10   Do not oppress
the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.
In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’

    (Zech.7:9-10) Four tests of faithful covenant
    living, consisting of a series of social, moral
    and ethical commands. (Zech.7:9) Justice. The
    proper ordering of all society (Zech.8:16; Isa
    42:1,4; Mic 6:8). Mercy. Or “faithful love” (Hos
    10:12; 12:6). Compassion. (Zech.1:16).
    Oppress. Oppression is denounced frequently in
    the OT ( Amos 2:6-8; 4:1; 5:11-12,21-24; 8:4-6).
    Widow. . . Fatherless. . . Alien. . . Poor. For the
    Biblical concern for such people (Dt 10:18; Isa 1:17;
    Jer 5:28; Jas 1:27; 1Jn 3:16-18). In the ancient
    Near East, the ideal king was expected to protect
    the oppressed and needy members of society. Think
    evil of each other. In (Zech.8:17) the almost
    identical Hebrew is translated “plot evil against
    your neighbor,” which is probably the sense here
    as well.

    3.Learn from the Past (Zech. 7:11-14)

Zech. 7:11   “But they refused to pay attention;
stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their
ears. 7:12   They made their hearts as hard as flint and
would not listen to the law or to the words that the
LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier
prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.  7:13  
“ ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called,
I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty.  7:14   ‘I
scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations,
where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate
behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they
made the pleasant land desolate.’ ”

    They. The preexilic forefathers, as the reference to
    the “earlier prophets” in (Zech.7:12) shows. Stubbornly
    they turned their backs( Dt 9:6,13,27). Stopped up their
    ears. (Psalms 58:4; Isa 6:10 ; Isa 33:15).
    Hard as flint. (Eze 3:8-9). Words. . . Sent by His spirit.
    The words of the prophets were inspired by God’s Spirit
    (Neh. 9:30; 2Pet 1:21). Very Angry. (Zech.1:2,15).
    Scattered them. One of the curses for covenant
    disobedience (Dt 28:36-37,64-68; Dt 28:64). Whirl wind.
    (Prov. 1:27; Isa 40:24; Hosea 4:19). Land. . . Desolate.
    ( Dt 28:41-42,45-52). This is how. By their sins. Pleasant
    Land. (Psalms 106:24; Jer 3:19).

    Summary:

        The Hebrews word translated "integrity" means
    "completeness" or "innocence." It suggests such shades
    of meaning as "uprightness, without wavering , blameless,
    and perfect." It means "completeness" in the sense of being
    in accord with truth and fact. To worship with integrity is
    to direct worship to God according to His Instructions. It
    means to have one’s heart, lips and actions synchronized
    into one integrated act toward Him. Worshiping with
    integrity is sincere worship from a pure and undivided
    heart, innocent of any mixed motives or hypocrisy.
        God questioned the motives of the people of Israel
    with regard to their fasts. They did not fast unto the Lord.
    They fasted selfishly for themselves. Therefore , they did
    not fast with Integrity.