Grace Words

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Zechariah 07

One of Satan’s more successful tactics is to get God’s people to focus more on religion believing that is the way to holiness. However, what it does is take our attention off what really matters to God.
Zechariah 7 offers a case in point.
Keep in mind that it is nearly twenty years after the first exiles returned to Jerusalem. They returned with the intent to rebuild the temple, then the city. They have done neither.
But they have been religious.
They have instituted “fasts” (without Divine authorization) in the fifth and seventh months as religious observances. It’s important to note that “fasting” as an ordinance from God occurs in the law only (possibly) on the “day of Atonement” (see Leviticus 16:29). The fast in the fifth month was to commemorate the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8ff). The fast in the seventh month was to remember and mourn the murder of Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25). As we shall see in chapter 8, there was also a fast in the fourth month and another in the tenth month. By observing these fasts, God’s people were being “religious.” They were not, however, being godly. The Lord says they were doing these religious things for themselves – not in worship of God.
Though they were religious, it did not translate into holiness, for they continued to neglect justice and mercy, as well as the care of the powerless and oppressed in their society (see vss. 9-10).
We too can be “religious.” There’s nothing wrong with religious observance. Where it goes wrong is when it is substituted for obedience to God. Then, religion and all its trappings become worthless.