The phrase “boast in the Lord” is found in 1 Corinthians 1:31, where Paul, quoting Jeremiah 9:24, says, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” It may seem strange to think of boasting as good; after all, the word boast means “to puff oneself up in speech,” and pride is condemned in Scripture (e.g., Proverbs 11:2). Paul is obviously not talking about sinful boasting. The Bible never condones braggadocio (boastful or arrogant behavior.)
Some preachers have twisted the meaning of the phrase “boast in the Lord” to support a misleading message. The phrase is commonly heard today in the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith movements. Often, it is quoted from Psalm 34:2 in the KJV, “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD,” and it is used in the context of boasting about worldly possessions or of speaking a miracle into existence. The idea is that, if you have a material need, then you should “boast” that you already have that need met. Such boasting is a proof of faith (so they say), and that faith will glorify God as your “word of confession” speaks a blessing into existence. This is most decidedly not what David and Paul meant.
Paul’s statement about boasting in the Lord has nothing to do with worldly possessions or with altering reality. The context concerns God’s ability to glorify Himself even in our weakness. When called to salvation, “not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-30). Whatever good may come from our ministry, we have no reason to boast because, humanly speaking, we are “weak,” “foolish,” “lowly,” and “despised.” All the glory goes to God and God alone (see Isaiah 42:8).
True boasting in the Lord is actually boasting of the Lord-boasting of His great attributes, boasting of what He has done for us, of what He is still doing and of what He has promised to do. As Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the LORD.”
And Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:” Matthew 24:15, 16 (KJV)
Charisma News published an article on Tuesday that got a lot of Christians excited and stirred up. The headline read ‘Sanhedrin Takes Major Step Toward Revelation 11 With High Priest Appointment’. The problem with that headline is we are not in Revelation 11, or anywhere even close to it at the present moment. Chapter 11, as you Bible students know, is the chapter that deals with the rebuilt Temple in Israel and the appearance of the Two Witnesses, Moses and Elijah.
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” Revelation 11:1 (KJV)
On the end times timeline, we the Church of Jesus Christ are at the very end of chapter 3, and knee-deep in the great falling away mentioned by both Paul in 2 Thessalonians and Jesus in Revelation 3.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (KJV)
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;” Revelation 3:14 (KJV)
And the very next event that will take place is, not the appearance of the Two Witnesses, but the Rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ.
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1 (KJV)
Now that we’ve established that we are not in Revelation 11, let’s look at another pertinent fact about the coming rebuilt Temple that perhaps a lot of people are not aware of. Prophecy watchers get excited with every mention of anything related to the coming Temple. The Temple Institute in Israel, for the past 30 years, has raised millions of dollars to recreate every single item that will be needed for Temple worship. Their website says this:
“The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual well being of both Israel and all the nations of the world. The Temple Institute’s ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments. “
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27 (KJV)
Match that with Matthew 24:15 and you have perfect harmony, and a perfect mess. The mess being the fact that it will be Antichrist occupying the rebuilt Temple, and not Jesus Christ. When this event – the Antichrist sitting in the Temple and proclaiming himself to be God – occurs, the Jews will realize at that moment they have made a horrific mistake. A remnant of them, according to Zechariah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and others, will flee to the Red Rock City of Selah, Petra, where God will supernaturally protect them as He did in the wandering in the wilderness in the Old Testament.
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:14-17 (KJV)
So before you go and get all excited by progress of rebuilding the Temple, just remember who that Temple will be occupied by. As for born again Christians in 2016, this is what we are waiting for:
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”Titus 2:13 (KJV)
Every spiritual blessing. Every single last one! Can you believe it? What abounding grace has been granted us who believe! Every spiritual blessing! To us, the former children of our once-father, the devil. Even while every believer should be rejoicing in thankful abandon at being granted to taste of life eternal, how much more should the adopted son of the High King of Heaven give unceasing thanks for the bountiful treasure unmerited which has been granted him by God’s unmeasured mercy!
“Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22 (KJV)
Just for fun, I decided to Google the phrase “greatest event in the Bible”, and got some interesting results. John MacArthur says that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the Bible, and he makes a compelling case. For the Christian, this is certainly true. But the Bible deals with a whole lot more than just Christians and Christianity. The Catholics say, predictably, that the ‘annunciation of Mary’ is the greatest event. (rolling my eyes). If you were Jewish, you might say the greatest event in the Bible was the giving of the Law to Moses, or maybe the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt at Passover. The Bible is a big Book with lots of big events.
For starters, since God wrote the Bible, we might want to look and see if there is a single event mentioned more times than any other. If God did have a ‘greatest event’ would it be possible to figure it out by the sheer number of times it was mentioned? As it turns out, there is a single event in the Bible mentioned more times, by more people, than any other event from cover to cover. Care to take a wild guess at what it might be?
“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” Zechariah 8:3 (KJV)
The greatest event in the entire Bible is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. All through the Bible, in book after book, there is a Day and an event that happens on that Day so important that it is referred to as “in that day”112 times. The prophet Zechariah mentions the phrase 20 times, and is one of the most descriptive and informative books in the Bible on the Second Coming.
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4 (KJV)
Christians look at Jesus on the cross, and His rising from the dead 3 days later, as the greatest event because that is where we “get in”. But look at it from God’s perspective, it was the day His only begotten Son was executed between common criminals. Why would that be God’s favorite day? But at the Second Coming, God’s Son will receive the Kingdom He rightly deserves, and will reign from Jerusalem as the King over the whole world. That’s the Day that interests God the most.
In that day, God will be glorified in all the earth, and it will usher in 1,000 years of perfect peace and perfect rule on our earth. The Devil will be bound in chains, and the curse will be removed from off the earth and all it’s inhabitants. The Lord Jesus Christ will rule with “a rod of iron” in perfect righteousness.
“For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 66:12-16,22,23 (KJV)
For born again Christians, the Bible says that after we are taken out in the Rapture of the Church, we will return again with the Lord on white horses at the Battle of Armageddon that takes place at the Second Coming. It’s the greatest day in human history, and we get better than a ringside seat. We get to be part of it.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)
Now you know what the greatest day in the Bible is, and why God looks forward to it so much. This could be your Greatest day, the day You find Salvation!
Even so, Come Lord Jesus!
Are you ready for what comes next?
Although his name implies that he baptized people (which he did), John’s life on earth was more than just baptizing. John’s adult life was characterized by blind devotion and utter surrender to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. John’s voice was a “lone voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23) as he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to a people who desperately needed a Savior. He was the precursor for the modern day evangelist as he unashamedly shared the good news of Jesus Christ. He was a man filled with faith and a role model to those of us who wish to share our faith with others.
Most everyone, believer and non-believer alike, has heard of John the Baptist. He is arguably one of the most significant and well-known figures in the Bible. While John was known as “the Baptist,” he was in fact the first prophet called by God since Malachi some 400 years before his own birth. John’s own coming was foretold over 700 years previously by another prophet. In Isaiah 40:3-5 it states: “A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”” This passage illustrates God’s master plan in action as God selected John to be His special ambassador to proclaim His own coming.
Little is actually known of John, although we do know that John was a Levite, one of the special tribe set aside by God to take care of all of the work associated with the temple (Numbers 1:50-53). John was the son of Zechariah, a temple priest of the lineage of Abijah, while John’s mother Elizabeth was from the lineage of Aaron (Luke 1:5). John was also related to Jesus as their mothers were cousins (Luke 1:36). John lived a rugged life in the mountainous area of Judea, between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It is written that he wore clothes made out of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. His diet was a simple one”locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). John lived a simple life as he focused on the kingdom work set before him.
John’s ministry grew in popularity, as recounted in Matthew 3:5-6: “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” We also see that he spoke very boldly to the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, calling them a “brood of vipers” and warning them not to rely on their Jewish lineage for salvation, but to repent and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-10). People of that day simply did not address leaders, religious or otherwise, in this manner for fear of punishment. But John’s faith made him fearless in the face of opposition.
While his ministry was gaining strength, John’s message was gaining popularity. In fact, it became so popular that many people may have thought that he was the Messiah. This assuredly was not his intent as he had a clear vision for what he was called to do. John 3:28 tells us, “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.'” This verse speaks of John cautioning his disciples that what they had seen and heard from him is just the beginning of the miracle that was to come in the form of Jesus Christ. John was merely a messenger sent by God to proclaim the truth. His message was simple and direct: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). He knew that once Jesus appeared on the scene, John’s work would be all but finished. He willingly gave up the spotlight to Jesus saying, “He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30). Perhaps there is no greater example of humility than the one demonstrated by both Jesus and John in Matthew 3:13-15. Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John in the river Jordan.
John rightly recognized that the sinless Son of God needed no baptism of repentance and that he was certainly not worthy to baptize his own Savior. But Jesus answered his concern by requesting baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” meaning that He was identifying Himself with sinners for whom He would ultimately sacrifice Himself, thereby securing all righteousness for them (2 Corinthians 5:21). In humility, John obeyed and consented to baptize Jesus.
John’s ministry, as well as his life, came to an abrupt end at the hand of King Herod. In an act of unspeakable and violent vengeance, Herodias, Herod’s wife and the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip, plotted with her daughter to have John killed. So incensed was Herodias at John for claiming her marriage to Herod to be unlawful that she prompted her daughter to ask for the head of John on a platter as a reward for her pleasing Herod with her dancing. John had previously been arrested by Herod in attempt to silence him, and it was a simple thing to send the executioner to the prison and behead John, which is exactly what happened (Mark 6:17-28). This was a sad and ignoble end to the life of the man about whom Jesus said: “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).
There are several lessons we can learn from the life of John the Baptist. First, whole-heartedly believing in Jesus Christ is possible. John the Baptist could have believed in and worshipped any number of gods available to him before Jesus arrived on the scene. But at some point in his life John knew that the Messiah was coming. He believed this with his whole heart and spent his days “preparing the way” for the Lord’s coming (Matthew 11:10). But the road was not an easy one to prepare. Daily he faced doubters of various influence and popularity who did not share his enthusiasm for the coming Messiah. Under hard questioning from the Pharisees, John shared his belief: “”I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”” (John 1:26-27). John believed in the Christ and his great faith prepared him for hardships, but it kept him steadfast on his course until the time when he could say as he saw Jesus approach, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). As believers, we can all have this steadfast faith.
Second, anyone can be a strong and serious witness for Jesus Christ. John’s life is an example to us of the seriousness with which we are to approach the Christian life and our call to ministry, whatever that may be. We pattern our lives after John’s by first examining ourselves to be sure we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Second, like John, we are to know and believe that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), so we can be fearless in the face of persecution and death. John lived his life to introduce others to Jesus Christ, and knew the importance of repenting of one’s sins in order to live a holy and righteous life. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, he also was unafraid of calling out people such as Herod and the Pharisees for their sinful behavior.
Third, John shows us how to stand firm in our faith no matter what the circumstances. Paul reminded Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). But for many of us who live in freedom, persecution takes on a very mild form. As he lived in an occupied country, John had to be aware that anything contrary to utter devotion to the king or emperor was asking for trouble. Yet his message was unchanging, bold and strong. It was John’s belief, his message, and his continual rebuke of King Herod that landed him in prison. While it is hard to know for sure what John was feeling as he sat in prison, we can be sure that he might have had some doubts about the Lord who tested his faith. In fact, John gets a message out to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). As Christians we all will have our faith put to the test, and we will either falter in our faith or, like John, cling to Christ and stand firm in our faith to the end.
If attending church one service is good, won’t attending four more be better? Is this what God wants? This is what the Jewish remnant wanted to know as they came to ask about the fasts they had been keeping for over 70 yrs. Let’s see what God has to say about true worship and true obedience.
PRINCIPLES: One’s attitude weighs more with God than one’s actions; God hates hypocrisy because He is a jealous God.
AIM: That we may learn what God requires for pure worship and then demonstrate that in our everyday walk.
DAY ONE: Background and Zech 7:1-3: The people ask God about fasting
1.How much time has passed from the revelations of visions? It has been approximately 2 yrs. since God first spoke to Zechariah and showed him 8 visions.
Zech 1:1 2nd yr of Darius, 8th month
Zech 7:1 4th yr of Darius 4th day of 9th month.
2.A delegation came to ask the priests and prophets a question. From where did they come and what did they ask? See Ezra 2:28, Neh 11:31. They came from Bethel. The phrase “house of God” refers to that city, if it had said “house of the Lord” it would refer to the Temple. Zech 7:2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech and their companions to seek the Lord’s favor
The delegation came to inquire as to whether they should continue to weep and fast as they had been doing “these many years”.
Neh 11:31 The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,
Ezr 2:28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.
Note: Jdg 20:31 –
To the house of God – “To Bethel,” as in the margin. On “Gibeah in the field.”
Barnes: Zec 7:2 –
When they held sent unto the house of God – Rather, “And Bethel sent;” that is, the inhabitants of Bethel sent. “The house of God” is nowhere in Holy Scripture called Bethel. Bethel is always the name of the place. . The “house of God” is designated by historians, Psalmists, prophets, by the name, “Beth-elohim,” more commonly “Beth-Ha-elohim, the God;” or “of the Lord,” YHVH. Zechariah and Haggai use these names. It is not likely that the name, Beth-el, should have first been given to the house of God, when it had been desecrated by the idolatries of Jeroboam. Bethel also is, in the Hebrew order of the words, naturally the subject . Nor is there any reason why they should have sent to Bethel, since they sought an answer from God. For it would be forced to say that they sent to Bethel, in order that those at Bethel should send to Jerusalem; which is not said.
Osorius: Bethel then, that is, the assembly of the city, sent messengers to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God and consult the wise there.”
3.The people had been fasting during several months of the year for over the last 70 yrs. They had mourned, fasted, wept as a way to remember the past. Read 2 Kings 25 to gain the background behind their question. Note specifically these verses: v 1, 3&4, 8&9, 25. What had occurred in each of these verses and in what months?
In vs 1: the siege of Jerusalem: 2Ki 25:1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
In vs 3&4: 2Ki 25:3: the famine in Jerusalem: And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.
2Ki 25:4 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
In vs 8&9: The burning of the Temple: 2Ki 25:8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
2Ki 25:9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
In vs 25: The murder of Gedaliah: 2Ki 25:25 But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died,
4.Read Zech 7:5 and 8:19. What months did God note that they had been fasting? In chapter 7 God only notes the fasts for the 5th and 7th months, but in chapter 8 we find that He noted the 4th, 5th, 7th and 10th.
In Zech 7:5 we read: When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years
In Zech 8:19 The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth,
5.The people had been fasting for 70 yrs. Did God require these times of fasting? _NO____ What did God require?
Lev 16:29-31; 23:26-32; Num 29:7: This set of verses speak of the Day of Atonement and what God required: God only established one fast, which was on the Day of Atonement. There were other fasts but this one only was required.
Full explanation: 16:29 “This is to be a perpetual statute for you. 1 In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you must humble yourselves 2 and do no work of any kind, 3 both the native citizen and the foreigner who resides 4 in your midst, 16:30 for on this day atonement is to be made for you to cleanse you from all your sins; you must be clean before the Lord. 5 16:31 It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves. 6 It is a perpetual statute. 7
23:26 The Lord spoke to Moses: Lev 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement:
29:7 “‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you are to have a holy assembly. You must humble yourselves; 20 you must not do any work on it.
The Israelites had placed a burden upon themselves that God did not require. Where have you placed a burden upon yourself that is not scripturally based? How often do we place boundaries and burdens upon ourselves that God did not require nor does He see them as pleasing. For instance, how often do we place the burden of church attendance upon ourselves? How often do we place the burden of dress codes, behavioral codes that are not scripturally based? God desires a contrite heart, pure attitude and pure motivation above “rules” and legalism.
DAY TWO: Zech 7:4-7 God Rebukes Hypocrisy
6.God sent Zechariah back to the people with 3 basic questions. List them from vs 4-7.
Question #1 vs 5: When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
Question #2 vs. 6: And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Question #3 vs 7: Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets,
7.In what way were the people being hypocritical? The people were fasting without regard to the requirements that God had established. They imposed fasts upon the people that were not scripturally based and they were doing it with the wrong motives and attitudes. They were not doing it for God but for themselves. God rebuked them for their empty formalism that had no spiritual reality.
8.Read Is 58:1-7 for a similar time when God asked the people about their hypocrisy. What did God say He required? God begins this chapter with how the people were responding. Then He asks a pertinent question: Isa 58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? But rather in vs. 6 God tells them what fast He is looking for: Isa 58:6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
Isa 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? God does not see the affliction of one’s person to be pleasing, but rather God is looking for the outcome that comes from a fast. He is looking to see if there is fruit such as what James speaks of as true religion. Jam 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Jam 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
9.In contrast to fasting, what does God desire? Micah 6:7&8, Is 1:16-19; 58:5-9a; Amos 5:21-24,1 Cor 10:31. God is looking for a changed heart that demonstrates that change in the society about us, which should bring glory to God because others see God in us.
Micah 6:7&8: what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Is 1:16-19 Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Is 58:-5-9 God is looking for fruit that touches the lives of those around us: the oppressed, those under the yoke of bondage, to feed the hungry, to meet the needs of the poor
Amos 5:21-24 Put away the sacrifices that are not a sweet aroma in its place: But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
1Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
DAY THREE: Zech 7:8-14 God Requires Repentance and Sincerity
10.In contrast to these self-imposed fasts, now God tells the people what He desires. Recalling our “4C’s” walk through vs. 8-14 to see it “played out in living color”.
C = consider the choice: what choice did God give to the people? They had a choice to demonstrate pure religion
C = compare to God’s Word: again Is 58:6 and Zech 7:9&10. What did God say to do? God said to prove your heart by touching the lives of others, meet their needs wherever they are and whatever circumstance they find themselves, execute true judgment and mercy as He would
C = choose God’s Way: Zech 7:11&12 What does God note about their choices? they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear
C = count on God for His provision and protection: Zech 7:13. Did the people experience these “2p’s”? NO: Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear,
Zec 7:14 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.
Where have you a choice and are refusing to choose His way and thus are not experiencing His provision and protection? Daily we face this as we choose to be obedient or not.
DAY FOUR: Zech 8:1-18 God Will Dwell in Their Midst
The 7 R’s ch. 8
8:1-3, 13-15 restoration –what will be restored? The city will be restored to a city of truth and God will dwell in the midst as He desired to do before: I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem:
8:4-6 the remarkable – how will it be remarkable? It will be remarkable because this city has been a city of violence and hatred but now it will be a city of peace and harmony: yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
8:7-8 a relationship- what kind of relationship will be in evidence? God will be the people’s God and they will be His people: a parent/child relationship; Father and child: pure and holy: I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
8:9-11 rebuilding- what will be rebuilt? The temple will be rebuilt: that the temple might be built.
8:12 renewal- what is renewed? Nature will return to its former glory: For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. The removal of the curse and in its place blessing:
Zec 8:13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
8:16-19 righteousness-how is righteousness revealed? Righteousness will be revealed in the actions that are demonstrated between everyone; and the attitudes that lead to proper actions. Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
8:20-23 reaching out-who will be reaching out and to whom? All from across the globe will come and say: the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts:
DAY FIVE: Zech 8:18-23 From Fasting to Feasting.
14.What a difference one letter makes! The people had asked a question about fasting, but God says now add one letter. You will no longer fast but feast! In what ways will this be different from the fasting in chapter 7? In chapter 7 the fasts were characterized by sadness and somberness as they in sorrow and misdirected motives recalled the tragedy of Jerusalem and the loss of the Temple, but in chapter 8 the feasts will be characterized by joy and gladness and the people will love what God loves.
Fasting is fruitless when done with the wrong attitude and wrong motives. Are you still dwelling beside the grave of your past sins and fasting in added rituals that God has never asked you to do OR have you added a letter to fasting to now make it feasting? How are you demonstrating that in your daily walk? Personal responses needed here.