7 During the fourth year of the reign of[a] King Darius, a message from the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month Kislev.[b]2 The people of[c] Bethel were sending[d] Sharezer, Regem-melech, and their men to pray in the Lord’s presence 3 and to speak to the priests assigned[e] to the Temple of the Lord of the Heavenly Armies along with the prophets, asking, “Am I to go about mourning, denying myself throughout the fifth month,[f] as I have these many years?”
4 Then this message from the Lord of the Heavenly Armies came to me: 5 “Talk to everyone in the land, as well as to the priests. Ask them, ‘When you were fasting and mourning during the fifth and seventh months[g] for the past seventy years, were you really fasting for me? 6 And when you eat and drink, you’re eating and drinking for your own benefit, aren’t you? 7 Isn’t this what the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets, when a prosperous Jerusalem was inhabited, as were its surrounding cities, the Negev,[h] and the Shephelah?’”[i]
The Consequence of Turning from God
8 This message from the Lord came to Zechariah again: 9 “This is what the Lord of the Heavenly Armies says: ‘Administer true justice, and show gracious love and mercy toward each other.[j]10 You are not to wrong the widow, orphans, the foreigner, or the poor, and you are not to plan evil against each other.[k]11 But they refused to pay attention, turned their backs, and stopped listening. 12 They made their hearts hard like a diamond, to keep from obeying the Law and the messages that the Lord of the Heavenly Armies sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. 13 Therefore, just as when I[l] cried out and they would not listen, so also they will cry out, and I will not listen,’ says the Lord of the Heavenly Armies. 14 ‘I will scatter them to all of the nations, which they have not known.’”
Now the earth was left desolate after them. As a result, no one came or went because they had turned a pleasant land into a desert.
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