Read Zechariah 1 – 7
The future Jerusalem comforted (1:16-17) and restored (2:10). Satan ever accusing (3:1-2). Joshua, the High Priest, a foreshadow of Jesus, the BRANCH, from whom all our fruit must be gathered (3:8). Sins removed (3:9). The Spirit (4:6) Ten visions each interpreted by Scripture (chap. 4 – 6). False fast (7:5-6), true fast (7:8-10).
Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, 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 (Zech. 7:5)?
Once again we find a prophet of God, Zechariah, calling Israel's attention to their practices that were not bringing honor to the Lord. This was during the time of their captivity in Babylon and Medo-Persia. At this time, the message from the Lord was meant to question the people of Israel's motivation in the things that they were doing.
In this verse, the Lord asked them to explain their reasons for fasting. God already knew the answer to this question, as He does to all questions. The reason He had Zechariah question them was to bring to their mind where they had fallen short with the Lord.
As it turned out, the people of Israel were fasting for the wrong reasons. Therefore, the Lord would not honor the fast. When it comes to anything we do for the Lord, the reasons behind our actions need to be godly.
Biblical references to the act of fasting changed somewhat after the birth of Christ. Even so, fasting is an action that the Word of God takes very seriously. It has a place of importance in both the Old and New Testaments.
Many times in the Old Testament, we find that national fasts were declared. The entire nation would fast and pray. This was usually done in response to national disasters, such as a drought, famine or coming war. However, it could have been tied to any number of things. Although there were instances of individual fasts, it seems the group fast was predominant in the Old Testament. And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem (Jer. 36:9).
In the New Testament, fasting took on a more personal role, although there were still group fasts held for certain things. In the Gospels, Jesus Himself shared the importance of Fasting. He made it clear to those who were dedicated to following Him that this should be an important part of their walk with the Lord. This was discussed when the Disciples had unsuccessfully been trying to cast out a demon. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:19-21).
Fasting is just as important to us today. When done for the proper reasons, it can deepen our relationship with God and draw us closer to the center of His will. Some people feel that because of health issues fasting is not open to them. However, we can fast from things other than food. Fasting is about denying the flesh and ignoring the pull of this world, while focusing 100% on the Lord and feeding the spirit with the Word of God and prayer.
But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days (Mark 2:20).
Thought for Today:
God has provided intercessory prayer for changing situations and people.
As My Servant the BRANCH (Zech. 3:8). Christ was brought into the world in the fulness of the time (Gal. 4:4), and took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). But He will soon return as the Righteous Branch to reign as King (Jer. 23:5).
1:15 helped forward the affliction, increased your afflictions beyond My intentions; 1:19 horns, world powers; 1:21 fray, terrorize; 3:5 mitre, turban; 5:1 roll, The Word of God was written on parchment or skins, then rolled up.
Prayer Suggestion: Praise God for His mercy (Ps. 136:2).
Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 145:14