SHOULD I WEEP?
Zechariah 7:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu; 2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD, 3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years? 4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, 5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? 6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
If you compare Zechariah 1:1 with 7:1 you will find that it has been two years in which the revelations and visions of the Lord had been coming to the prophet Zechariah. Those of us who read our daily devotions, have daily prayer, and by these, have our hearts warmed daily with a spiritual consciousness of God should never want to go back into these days prior to the accomplished redemption and the sending of the Holy Spirit! The spiritual man is to forget the past and press forward to future glory! (Phil. 3:13). Why anyone would yearn to go back to the days of animal sacrifice which never pleased God, and by which not one sin was atoned for, is evidence of inordinate, religious affections fueled by Satan.
For even the Apostle Peter let a warm fuzzy feeling allow Satan to make inroads into the Lord’s private circle of disciples concerning the atonement! Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
These two men who had returned from Babylonian captivity with their Babylonian sounding names (unlike those of Zechariah 6:10) came to Jerusalem from Bethel (for that is the Hebrew word translated the house of God in verse two. That word is always translated elsewhere in the entire Bible as “Bethel!” Never is the house of God termed Bethel! Although Bethel means “house of God!”). And they came wanting to be noted and praised for their 70 year old tradition of weeping every fifth month in Babylon. And I’m certain that they would have liked to have had this tradition adopted by the priests of Jerusalem for observance throughout the entire nation!
These men were serious! They had been weeping and mourning in the presence of the Babylonians every fifth month for 70 years! Daniel got into trouble for praying in the presence of his captors, winding up in a den of lions for his devotions. (Dan. 6:5-7). The Hebrews had to get off into Goshen to tend to their pastoral duties, for the Egyptians held sheep keeping in abomination! (Gen. 46:34). And Mordecai had to be warned not to come near the kings palace in sack cloth, for the Persian king would not allow mourning in his presence! (Ester 4:2).
But dear Reader, it matters not how devoted men are to many human formed, deeply emotional traditions of the religious flesh, it is a demonic zeal! That is the religious zeal that caused highly devoted intellectual religionists to nail their Messiah to a tree! Hell is actually stated to involve itself even with ill advised words, much less vain traditions! James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
The Apostle Paul records that a zeal without God’s knowledge is evidence of one being an unregenerate religionist! Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Listen to these warnings concerning religious zeal! Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. These highly learned men, the one’s whom our righteousness must exceed (Matt. 5:20), rebuked the Eternal Word Himself, for not bowing to their inordinately invented religious traditions! – My! how aggressive religious flesh is!
More biblical warnings – Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (That word “conversation” means “manner of life!”)
But just what was it that caused these Jews to sustain such a tradition in the very face of their captors for so long a time? It must have been a “good cause.” As you will notice in the Lord’s reply to them through his prophet Zechariah, he speaks of both a fifth and a seventh month observance of their inordinate, religious weeping. What was going on?
We find the issue concerning the fifth month recorded in 2 Kings 25:8-9. And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: 9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
Their seventy year long weeping in every fifth month was to keep alive the anniversary of the burning down of their temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar!
But what of the seventh month’s display of false grief? We have not the space to list that passage out, but you can read it in Jeremiah 40:13 through Jeremiah 41:3. It was in the seventh month that the good man Gedaliah, made governor in the land by the Chaldeans, was assassinated by the wicked, hot-headed, religious zealots who would not bow to God’s will for them to submit to the Babylonian captivity!
God commanded Jeremiah not to pray for Jerusalem or the people of Israel! Jeremiah 7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. 14:11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
And the Lord God commanded the people of Israel who were taken captive into Babylon by his hand to seek for Babylon’s peace! Jeremiah 29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. I wonder just how many of todays “Christians” would pray for the good of any nation that overran America, even if the Lord gave them specific instruction to do so?
A Very Serious Matter!
How thankful we are that we have been blessed to be raised up in our dear America. But our spiritual loyalty belongs first to the Lord Jesus Christ! For we were but spiritually dead Americans – spiritually dead human beings, until He gave us spiritual life by a spiritual resurrection! Therefore we should set our hearts and minds upon spiritual and heavenly matters! Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Being risen with Christ in that first verse is speaking of being raised from the death of trespasses and sins into life in the Spirit by regeneration. (See John 3:3,5,8; 5:25,26.) And notice in that sixth verse that failure to mortify – to co-operate with the cross in the killing out of our fleshly minds – is exactly that which caused God’s wrath to fall on others! It is a serious matter!
We must never allow our carnal hearts to dictate our system of worship for us. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Therefore we must surely walk in the leadership of the Holy Spirit especially in matters of worship!
Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
That last verse in the Amplified version reads, Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh – the lower nature. [Instead, they do not honor God] but serve only to indulge the flesh.
There is a great deal of religious peer pressure exacted upon souls who are easily led by either guilt or pity! A great many sorrowful ends have been accomplished by these influences forced on religionists accompanied with the words, “I’m led of the Lord to do so!” Some people had rather climb a tree in order to follow such wild fire, than to stand on the ground to follow Christ! 2 Corin. 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
In this same letter the Apostle Paul gave his testimony of never having led anyone astray from the simplicity of Christ by fleshly wisdom! 2 Corin. 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. He clearly instructed his listeners never to follow him but only as he followed Christ! 1Corin. 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
And we should all be wise enough never to pin our eternal destiny on any religious leader’s coat tail! And none should ask us to do so! We have the right to expect them to declare Christ unto us by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, by the Holy Scriptures!
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Pastor Gene Breed
January 26, 2011