Zechariah 7

* The captives' inquiry respecting fasting. (1-7) Sin the cause

of their captivity. (8-14)

1-7 If we truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful

matters, we must not only consult his word and ministers, but

seek his direction by fervent prayer. Those who would know God's

mind should consult God's ministers; and, in doubtful cases, ask

advice of those whose special business it is to search the

Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to

continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were

likely to be finished. The first answer to their inquiry is a

sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to

God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purpose.

There was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in

it. Holy exercises are to be done to God, looking to his word as

our rule, and his glory as our end, seeking to please him and

obtain his favour; but self was the centre of all their actions.

And it was not enough to weep on fast days; they should have

searched the Scriptures of the prophets, that they might have

seen what was the ground of God's controversy with their

fathers. Whether people are in prosperity or adversity, they

must be called upon to leave their sins, and to do their duty.
8-14 God's judgements upon Israel of old for their sins, were

written to warn Christians. The duties required are, not keeping

fasts and offering sacrifices, but doing justly and loving

mercy, which tend to the public welfare and peace. The law of

God lays restraint upon the heart. But they filled their minds

with prejudices against the word of God. Nothing is harder than

the heart of a presumptuous sinner. See the fatal consequences

of this to their fathers. Great sins against the Lord of hosts,

bring great wrath from his power, which cannot be resisted. Sin,

if regarded in the heart, will certainly spoil the success of

prayer. The Lord always hears the cry of the broken-hearted

penitent; yet all who die impenitent and unbelieving, will find

no remedy or refuge from miseries which while here they despised

and defied, but which they then will not be able to bear.

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