Our last reading for this week: Zechariah 7:8-14.
v9-10: It is never right to exploit or oppress others for our advantage. The way we treat each other reveals the nature/character of our society (see Micah 6:8 and James 1:27. This is what G-d desires from us). G-d had provided safety, security, peace and resources for the people so that they were able to live righteously. If they had lived in a way that these verses describe then they would have been a light to the nations. Unfortunately, they did not live like this. They were far removed from the things of G-d. This is what Zechariah is referring to here.
v11: The people knew what G-d expected of them, but they rejected His Word.
· Stubbornly they turned their backs -the word used here is the same as the one used for rebellious in Deut 21:18-21. Their actions showed their defiance toward G-d. G-d was faithful to His side of the promise – to bring the people back – but they were behaving in exactly the same way as before.
v12: ‘Hearts’ speaks of their thoughts (as a man thinks in his heart so is he – Prov 23:7)
· We need to be people who listen to the law and listen to what the prophets have said. These things do not save us, but they teach us, once we have been saved, how to live righteously and in a way that pleases G-d.
v13: ‘Says the L-rd of hosts’- this is G-d making a promise. G-d promises of the good things He wants to do – but these promises come with conditions. If we do not listen to Him, and if we reject His promises, He will be silent toward us.
v14: After the Babylonian exile ended, the people lived almost 600 years in Israel before they were scatted ‘with a whirlwind’ into all the nations of the world – where they have been for almost 2000 years. A gathering back has been happening these past 70 years, but we still see the hard hearts of many of the people and, like these people in Zechariah’s day, rebuilding the temple is still not a priority among many of the folk today.
· After the destruction of the second temple the land of Israel changed and became very desolate and barren. Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867 and called it a desolate country. But today the desert is blooming like Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 35:1-10. The call of G-d is the same now as it was then.