Daily Archives: August 10, 2019
We’re on a tour of the minor prophets for the rest of the summer: Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. You can join our study by reading today’s scripture below and journaling about it using SOAP (click on the “What’s SOAP?” link above to learn more). Below today’s scripture is an example SOAP from our team. Whether it’s your first time reading the Bible or you’ve been doing daily devotions for decades, God will use this One Thing to speak to you. We love hearing from you! Please use the comment section of our website to share your SOAP, thoughts or questions on the reading, or prayer requests. Join us as we build unity and community through God’s Word!
Justice and Mercy, Not Fasting
In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord 3 by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
4 Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’”
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’”
Am I Genuine? | Kathy Page
For the previous 70 years, the Israelites had been holding a fast in August to remember the destruction of Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem was being rebuilt, they came to the temple to ask if they had to continue this annual fast. God did not answer their question directly. Instead, He told them that their acts of justice and mercy were more important than their fasting. The Israelites had lost their sincere desire for a loving relationship with God. Zechariah told them that they had been fasting without a proper attitude of repentance or worship. They were keeping the fasts for insincere and selfish reasons, not to repent for the past sins that led to the exile or from true sorrow for the destruction of the Temple – this was just an obligatory ritual. Their hearts were not genuinely devoted to God. Their lives were not characterized by righteousness, but by ritual. And, what’s more, Zechariah was telling them that they were falling back into their old ways of ignoring social justice and failing to show compassion for the poor and needy. That self-centered lifestyle was the very reason God sent them into exile in Babylon for 70 years.
What about you and me? Are we genuine? The Lord desires true righteousness, not religiosity. Why do we go to church? Is it just a weekly ritual? Or do we go because we truly want to worship the Lord and learn from His Word. Are we bored and weary with church, attending for selfish reasons like “looking spiritual” to our friends. Where are our hearts? Do we show compassion and care for those around us? Or are we too busy with our own lives, caring for our own interests? What was true in Zechariah’s day is true today as well. Having concern and compassion for the poor and helpless is not just a command for God’s people of the OT times, but also for us today. James 1:27 – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress.” We, as Christ followers, must not be indifferent or unconcerned about social issues. Think about the people, those around you, who could use a helping hand. The Lord desires compassion (not just talk) rather than complacency.
Father, help me to be genuine in my walk with You, to act justly and show compassion and to love You with my whole heart. Let it not be for show, or for selfish reasons, but let me always honor and glorify You. Father, You have asked that we care for widows and orphans. You tell us throughout Your Word about compassion. Sometimes I am blind, I get so wrapped up in my own life, I fail to see the needs of those around me. Open my eyes. Let me listen to those who are hurting. Give me the heart to be interested in their troubles, and to do whatever I can to help. I pray for compassion, justice and mercy to rise up within me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Discover One Thing main website follows a reading plan that goes through the entire Bible in one year. Click HERE to check out today’s Discover One Thing post.