Summary: The restored community was lapsing into the same sins that brought on the ruin of their fathers & that sin was their failure to obey the Word from their hearts. The people must learn the lesson that the nation's life centers around its attitude toward an
ZECHARIAH 7: 8-14
FAILING TO OBEY THE WORD
The emphasis of the second message in this third section is to draw an even closer connection with the past to the present. In the earlier generation, just as in Zechariah's own day, the people needed to comprehend that God desired inner spiritual reality rather than external formalism. The basic mistake of the pre-exilic nation had been its failure to obey the Word of the Lord which resulted in devastation and captivity. The same fundamental blunder Zechariah asserts is being made by the restored community. They were lapsing into the same social, moral and ethical sins that brought on the ruin of their fathers and that sin was their failure to obey the Word from their hearts. The people must learn the lesson that the nation's life centers around its attitude toward and response to the Word of God (CIT). So God used the consequences of past disobedience as warnings and examples for the present.
I. GOD'S JUST DEMANDS, 8-10.
II. MAN'S REBELLION, 11-12.
III. GOD'S JUSTICE, 13-14.
This new Word beginning in verse 8 is to remind the people in greater detail what had been said in the previous Word from the Lord. Then the Word of the LORD came to Zechariah saying,
Once again Zechariah in words renewed to him by the direct inspiration of God's Spirit gives the gist of the message of the former prophets. Once again as in 7:4, "Thus says the LORD" forms the introduction to his authoritative declaration. If the wayward people and priests are to obey the Word of God they must hear it plainly and unequivocally. Hence we have the repeated stress of inspiration and divine authority.
The next two verses reveal social, moral and ethical areas where repentance is needed. Verse 9 reminds the people of God's call to practice justice. Thus has the LORD of Hosts said, dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to this brother;
It is note-worthy that man's duties to his neighbor are stressed. For if one does not love his brother who he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen (1 Jn. 4:20).
These social, moral and ethical commands are the most ordinary tests of obedience to God and lie so near the surface that no deep spiritual discernment is necessary to form a correct estimate of them or to understand that failure to perform them is proof positive of disobedience to God's Word.
Let us look at the four commands or tests of their spiritual reality that the Lord gave the people in verses 9 and 10. The first test /commanded is to: "Dispense True Justice." Dispense (shephoke) is imperative and means a judicial decision based on the truth or objective evidence (Ezek. 18:8).
Administration of justice is to be according to the truth. This judgment based on truth is justice exercised with utter impartiality, with an unbiased weighing of all evidence and reaching a non subjective (non-personal) rendering (Lev. 19:15). This was a personal requirement as well as one that affected the conduct of public officials.
It is the task of seeing and making just moral, religious, spiritual, political, social and economic decisions. [Both individuals and leaders in Israel were also exploiting people for personal gain. Their behavior in such matters revealed the state of their hearts and the character of the nation (1 Sam. 24:13; Mt. 12:34; Lk. 6:45; 1 Jn. 3:10).] We today still are to strive to bring about such a proper and fair ordering of all society. The proper desire was perhaps best said by Amos. ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!' (Amos 5:24).
The 2nd test/command is: "Practice Kindness and Compassion." Practice is literally do or work. Practicing kindness (hesed) means that someone in a position to help, freely does. The word compassion is related to the root word for womb. It indicates a maternal kind of love that grows and matures others, a watching over those more helpless.
They are to have a brotherly attitude toward each characterizing those born from the same womb. Kindness and compassion are to be the order of day between a man and his neighbor. Kindness and compassion are the two great demands of righteousness and love. See Micah 6:6-8, Hosea 2:19-21.
Verse 10 addresses categories of people who more susceptible to being cheated, oppressed, or simply forgotten in society. "and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in our hearts against one another.
The 3rd command or test is "do not oppress" the helpless and unfortunate. The widow and orphan have much in common with the sojourner (stranger-alien) and the poor. They represent the most common victims of oppression (Deut. 10:18, Isa.1:17, 23, Jer. 5:28, Jas.1:27, I Jn. 3:16-18). They are the more defenseless members of society without the social position or economic means to stand up for themselves and thus are particularly exposed to the unscruplessness of godless men (Ex. 22:22, 23:6-9, Lev. 19:15-18, Jer.7:6). Therefore each is singled out as not to be taken advantage of in their helplessness. Those who do so plainly manifest their greed and godlessness. Oppression is denounced so frequently in the O.T. that there is no real need of an exhaustive list of reference (Amos 2:6-8, 4:1, 5:11-12, 21-24, 8:4-6).