Summary: Christians need a return to integrity so that motives will be in keeping with God's design and desire for a nation of righteousness. Zechariah identifies restraining hindrances and offers realistic solutions.
MINORS’S LESSONS THAT HAVE MAJOR IMPACT V: INTEGRITY – Learned from Zechariah
From Zephaniah, we learned HUMILITY. We honor God when we humble ourselves before God lest we become comfortable and complacent.
From Haggai, we learned COMMITMENT. We honor God when we do whatever needs to be done in His Name, whenever it needs to be done, for as long as it needs to be done. Keep your promises to God!
From Zechariah, we learned REPENTANCE. We honor God, and we do ourselves a favor, when we repent of our sins and trust God to forgive us and to lead us in the way He would have us go in life.
Another lesson we learned from Zechariah is DEPENDENCE. Unless we depend on the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, nothing of lasting value will be accomplished.
Yet another lesson we learn from Zechariah is INTEGRITY.
The Hebrew word translated “integrity” means “completeness” – in the sense of being in harmony with the Word of God taught by the prophets and the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us.
In worship, for example, a man or woman of integrity will try as best they can to synchronize the desires of their hearts, the words of their lips, as well as their actions, into one act of praise to God. Their worship will be sincere - no impure motives, no hypocrisy, and no ill will toward anyone.
God questioned the MOTIVES of the people of Israel --- Zech. 7:1-7 . . .
Would you like to have your motives questioned?
Especially if you had walked 12 miles to ask a question having to do with whether you should continue doing something you thought was a good thing to do!
A delegation of folks from Bethel (12 miles north of Jerusalem) came to town to inquire of the priests and the prophets if they should continue the practice of observing fasting rituals they had begun in Babylonian exile.
Notice that the two leaders of the Bethel delegation had foreign names which suggests that they were born in Babylon; the ritual they had in mind was one they had instituted and observed for 70 years on an annual basis to remember the day they were taken into captivity.
They came to Jerusalem “to plead for the LORD’S favor” – “to seek God’s Will in a matter.”
Quite frankly, I don’t think they trusted the priests (who oftentimes resorted to some kind of “throwing of the dice” to settle disagreements.
These folks wanted a straight answer! Don’t decide the issue with some kind of “coin toss” (to use today’s terminology). Shall we or shall we not continue the fasts which we instituted while in bondage?
What does the LORD say?
Well, the LORD answered their question with a question! You know, I hate that when I ask somebody a question. Just answer the question. I did not come here to be asked a question; I came here to ask a question.
What’s going on here? Would you agree that what the LORD was after was for THEM to answer their OWN question; so He asked them about their MOTIVES for observing the fasts which they instituted in Babylon.
Now, make no mistake about it, a “fast” was a good thing – IF the fast represented the right motive – if the fast was for the purpose of helping a person have a deeper experience with God – if the fast was used as a time of confessing sin and drawing nearer to God – if the fast was for demonstrating to God that those fasting needed the help of God; they felt powerless apart from their dependence upon God to supply their needs; or to minister to someone else in need, they had to have God’s help!
The LORD was trying to get them to see that the fast itself was not the important thing to Him. It’s not the ritual that matters to God; it’s the heart of the person performing the ritual that matters most! HOW you worship the LORD is not the issue here. It’s WHO you worship and WHY! HOW you serve the LORD is not the issue here. It’s WHO you serve and WHY!
What is the REASON for the ritual? If it’s just a recitation of words that have little or no meaning; or if it’s just a way of getting rid of pent-up feelings; or if it’s just another way to call attention to oneself, it’s of little or no importance to God.
Of course, God knows our hearts; He knows our motives; He knows our innermost thoughts. We cannot fool God; so why try? When it comes to worshipping God and serving Him, if what we do, and the way we do it, is solely for our own benefit, God knows it; however, if what we do and how we do it is motivated by our love for God, He knows that too.