Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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;II. QUESTIONS CONCERNING CERTAIN FASTS
1. The question (Zechariah 7:1-3)
2. The reproof (Zechariah 7:4-7)
3. The lessons of the past (Zechariah 7:8-14)
Zechariah 7:1-3. Nearly two years had passed since Zechariah’s great visions, and during that time the people had been obedient to the vision and built the house. Soon the ancient worship was to be resumed. A question arose in the minds of the people concerning certain Jewish days of fasting. The principal day was the day set apart in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It was kept on the ninth day of the fifth month (the ninth of Ab, still kept by the Jews). The question came to the prophet through two men who bear foreign names--Sherezer (Prince of the Treasury) and Regemelech (the official of the king). The question was, “Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these many years?” They had wept in Babylon on that day Psalm 137:1-9.
Zechariah 7:4-7. The word of the Lord comes now to the prophet. The message is for all the people and for the priests. The two fasts are mentioned. The one in the fifth month as already stated was the one in remembrance of the destruction of the city. The fast of the seventh month was kept on the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah at Mizpah Jeremiah 41:1-18. But why did they keep these fast days? Why do they keep these days indeed still? The Lord asks, “Is it unto Me, unto Me?” No, it was not for the honor and glory of God, but their own selfish interests were at the bottom of it. Indeed God had never asked them to fast. These institutions were man-made, and highly displeasing to Jehovah. And is it not so now, not alone with the Jews but with Christendom? oh, the man-made institutions and outward observances which only dishonor God and are for the selfish interests of the people! The eating and drinking, the fast being over, was not unto the Lord, but unto themselves. It was obedience the Lord required. Had they listened to the words spoken by the prophets they would not have been in captivity, there would have been no need for a solemn fast. Unbelief was at the bottom of it all, and so it is still with the nation in dispersion.
Zechariah 7:8-14. Here are moral lessons and instructions. They were to execute true judgment, show mercy and compassion, oppress not the widow nor the fatherless, the poor or the stranger. These were His demands in the past, but their fathers did not listen, and as a result the judgment of the Lord came upon them and they were scattered with a whirlwind. History has repeated itself. What happened in the past happened again.