Hearts As An Adamant Stone

Zechariah Seven


          The Book of Zechariah begins in the second year of Darius when he received his first set of visions. Now almost two years have past and we are in Darius' fourth year. The Temple was finally completed in the sixth year of Darius. "And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king." (Ezra 6:15) The events of Zechariah seven describe a time when the Temple was partially completed. Zechariah 7:2 says, "When they had sent to the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD." The Temple was completed in stages and it was used in limited ways as part of it was completed. This prompted the question, "Should we continue the fast in the fifth month that was appointed to mourn the loss of the Temple?" In Zechariah eight this question and other questions about fasting will be answered.


          Instead of answering their question about fasting Zechariah taught the people about worship from the heart. Were they truly fasting for God or just going through the outward motions? The Lord asked them if they did it for Him or for themselves. Was God saying that these feasts were self-appointed instead of authorized by God? This was a demonstration of their religion but was it an act of obedient love to God. "The former prophets" had spoken against rebellion and external formalism. It was a sad day but the people ignored the truth of the God that they worshipped. Those that worship and serve God in truth will develop positive qualities in their lives. God said, "I, the LORD All-Powerful, tell you, "See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another! Don't mistreat widows or orphans or foreigners or anyone who is poor, and stop making plans to hurt each other." Fasting and observing rituals do no good unless a person's heart is right with God. The people previously been hard hearted and would not listen to God. "They made their hearts like an adamant stone." The word adamant means “utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion in spite of all appeals from others.” God appealed to then to change but they would not listen. Zechariah described God as saying of the seventy years of captivity, "You people paid no attention when I called out to you, and now I'll pay no attention when you call out to me." When the captivity came it was too late. God would not answer their cries. During the days of the captivity the land of the Jews had become a desolate land.


          Should the fast continue -- Zechariah 7:1-3: The events of Zechariah seven took place two years after the visions of Zechariah one. When the rebuilding on the Temple was started again it took four years to complete. This was about the mid point of the rebuilding process. We learn that this was a time to give serious thought to doing things God's way. We should give earnest consideration to the question about why we do what we do religiously. Why do we assemble for worship? Is it to please God or is it to please ourselves. Certain Jews, Sherezer and Regemmelech and their men, came to pray before the LORD and to ask the priest if they should continue to keep the fasts and times of mourning that they have kept for the last seventy years. God answered their question but not before he asked some questions of His own. Since the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC the Jews had kept periods of weeping and fasting. The problem with the fast is that there is no record that it was done by the authority of God. The Temple had not been completed, but it seemed that part of it was being used at this time.


          Worship for personal benefit -- Zechariah 7:4-7: During the captivity the people were fasting and mourning to remember what had happened to Jerusalem, to the Temple and to the people. The problem is these things were not done to please God. It was self-pleasing worship and there is no value in that! True worship is offered in honor to the one true God. Worship must never be approached with the attitude, "What can I get out of it?" My attitude toward worship must always be, "Let us offer our adoration to God." Worship is giving worth to our great Creator, God. We must be putting forth every effort to please God, not just simply going through the motions. The reply of God to the question of these men was a stern rebuke. Their fasting and mourning for those seventy years was an empty practice of a religion that was not designed to adore God but its design was to benefit those that engaged in it in such a hypocritical manner. It was only outward show. Their hearts were far from God. Their religion was self-centered and self-fulfilling. It failed to satisfy the demands of our holy God. The people had not obeyed God's words through the former prophets in past generations. Now Zechariah is asking if these people will obey those words and thus give honor to God. These people should profit by the mistakes of the ancestors.


          Worship without life changes -- Zechariah 7:8-10: God’s prophets had previously taught the people to "Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy each to his brother, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart." (Zechariah 7:8-10) God expects us to treat other people with kindness and fairness. God wanted the people who were back in the homeland to be spared mistreatment. It is a sad thing to deal in cruel acts against the helpless. God had early said, “You shall not oppress any widow or orphan.” (Ex. 22:22) Zechariah wanted people to understand how hypocritical it is to engage in self-pleasing worship and then take advantage of the helpless. True worship to God must change both your heart and your life. True worship will produce mercy and compassion in your life. God said that His people should not even devise evil against his brother in their heart. (Zechariah 7:10) God is looking at our heart. Their fast would be worthless if they failed to execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassion.


          False worship is condemned -- Zechariah 7:11-14: The former princes and the people pulled away from God's will and would not surrender to Him. There hearts were like adamant stones, the hardest kind of stones. This is a vivid illustration of the stubbornness and rebellion of the people against the Law of God. They refused to hear God with obedience and He would refuse to hear them with mercy. God promised the former people, "I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate." (Zechariah 7:14) God's judgment comes upon those who worship Him out of self-interest. Heartless worship always angers God. Let us never have the character of the people described in Zechariah seven. They (1) Refused to hearken to the word of God, Zechariah 7:11, (2) They pulled back from obeying God, Zechariah 7:11, (3) They stopped their ears and would not hear God, Zechariah 7:11, (4) They made their hearts as adamant stone, Zechariah 7:12, and (5) They would not listen to the law or to the words of the Lord. (Zechariah 7:12) Let us never be like these people.


          To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) After being washed in the blood of Jesus at baptism be among those that worship and serve God with a pure and clean heart.