We are in the Exile Stream reading from the New American Standard Bible.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Dear Lord Jesus – we are glad you don’t give up on us even though hard-heartedness is a big problem with us; your people. . We are grateful that you intend to restore and celebrate with us as we worship in your presence. Amen.
The two chapters are linked into an intertwined theme. They had been doing their dutiful deeds to commemorate Zion. They longed to get back there. Their fasts in (what we call) April, May, July, October were for grieving the destruction of the Temple. But their hearts were wrong. The fasting wasn’t bringing them to God. It was souring into just being a show of personal piety rooted in … they didn’t even know what anymore. The practice of this and the brand new religion of Buddha in Asia about this same time was queerly similar, btw.
7 – The prologue is soon over and God is inquiring, “are you fasting for me? are you celebrating for me? Are you serious?” God saw the activity that may have appeared religious, but he was not impressed. They were cruel to each other as widows and orphans and neighbors were destitute among them and the population basically didn’t care. They seemed to enjoy pretending not to notice those suffering around them They were being evil to one another and aloof to God. Their spirituality was a empty, boring, human-centered expression that God was not impressed with. They had forgotten that God had to scatter them because of their hard-heartedness. This still was not remedied. And it needed to be.
8 – The abrupt alternating between distress from their sins and jubilation at God’s renewal continue here, as is Zechariah’s trademark. Amid all the folly that was yet to be reckoned with and abandoned, there is a coming Day foretold where God was going to come and dwell in Jerusalem in a glorious manner. God loved Zion and he would abide there. Truth and holiness would prevail. The old and young would be joyful as children played in the streets. God will save His people. All will have provision. Enemies will be gone. And you will all have stopped lying to each other, yes?!. There will be food aplenty, strength, and blessing. God will do good in Judah so do not be afraid. After this the fasts will be renewing and cleansing, not spiritual weirdness. The feasts will be joyful celebrations, not mere food festivals of excess. The shame of the Jews’ behavior in past will be gone. And as blessing floods the land, many nations will be inspired to seek the same blessing that the Jews have since they walk anew with their God. Praise be to the Lord.