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Zechariah 7 (The Message)

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1 On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God's Message again came to Zechariah. 2 The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God's blessing 3 and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets. They posed this question: "Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem's fall, as we have been doing all these years?" 4 God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, 5 for all the people and for the priests: "When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? 6 And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people. 7 "There's nothing new to say on the subject. Don't you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated? 8 [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] 9 Well, the message hasn't changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now: "'Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. 10 Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don't plot and scheme against one another - that's evil.' 11 "But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. 12 They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, 13 because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said. 14 I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their 'promised land' became a vacant lot - weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland."
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