by Sean Mills

This week’s questions:

Read Zechariah 8

1. Chapter eight begins with a rather idyllic scene of Jerusalem after God grants His blessing upon it. “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play” (vv. 4 and 5). The image represents a time when life will be as it should be in Jerusalem. Justice will prevail and the people of God will live harmoniously with one another. Are there issues in our city that prevent certain people from living up to their fullest potential? If so, what are they? How can we address these concerns? Do you think God’s love for our community is ‘passionate and strong’ (see v. 2)?

2. In verse seventeen we discover things that God hates. He says, “Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD.” In the book of Proverbs there is recorded seven things that God hates. They are haughty eyes (pride/arrogance), a lying tongue (lies), hands that kill the innocent (murder), evil hearts (bad intentions/motivations), feet that race to do wrong (intentional sin), a false witness who pours out lies (false testimony) and a person who sows discord in a family (creating strife) [see Pr 6: 16-19]. Though these things can happen on the individual, one-on-one level, how have we witnessed them in the broader context of American society? Washington, DC? What were the negative results of these instances? How many people were affected?

3. You may remember from chapter seven the people’s plea to God regarding their fasts that they held every year while in exile (7: 3). They wanted to know if they should keep fasting and mourning in an effort to incite divine intervention on their behalf. God essentially told them that their fasts and acts of mourning were self-serving and that they continually neglected the more important matters of making sure righteousness and justice permeated the land. In chapter eight God transformed those periods of mourning and fasting into ‘festivals of joy and celebration.’ However, the celebration is closely connected with the instruction to love truth and peace (v. 19). Why weren’t their prayers and fasts not being heard on High? What is most important to God? Is fasting now obsolete?