On December 7 a of the fourth year of King Darius's reign, another message came to Zechariah from the LORD.
The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech, b along with their men, to seek the LORD's favor.
They were to ask this question of the prophets and of the priests at the Temple of the LORD Almighty: "Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple's destruction, c as we have done for so many years?"
The LORD Almighty sent me this message:
"Say to all your people and your priests, 'During those seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and at the festival in early autumn, d was it really for me that you were fasting?
And even now in your holy festivals, you don't think about me but only of pleasing yourselves.
Isn't this the same message the LORD proclaimed through the prophets years ago when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah e were populated areas?'"
Then this message came to Zechariah from the LORD:
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.
Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And do not make evil plans to harm each other.
"Your ancestors would not listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing.
They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them.
"Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the LORD Almighty.
I scattered them as with a whirlwind among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. The land that had been so pleasant became a desert."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)