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LESSON 8 - THE TRUE FAST (ZECHARIAH 7:1-14; 8:16-19)

I NEED YOUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK. DON'T WANT TO CUT INTO THE LESSON
STUDY
TIME. SO BRIEFLY--THIS FRIDAY I WILL BE ARGUING BEFORE IN A COURT  JUST
BELOW THE U.S.
SUPREME COURT. IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY CASE OF MY
CAREER. IF I LOSE IT WILL HAVE
AN ADVERSE AFFECT ON THE REL. LIBERTY OF MANY EMPLOYEES AND IF I WIN
IT WILL BE
A BLESSING TO MANY. PRAY THAT I SPEAK ELOQUENTLY AND THAT THE LORD
WILL TOUCH THE HEARTS OF THE JUDGES.    (THIS LESSON WAS IN 1989  THE
CASE WAS WON AND THE DECISION IN THAT CASE CONTINUES TO PROTECT
RELIGIOUS OBJECTORS TODAY.)
 
INTRODUCTION: THIS WEEK WE STUDY ZECHARIAH 7.  TO HELP YOU
UNDERSTAND WHAT
THE TEXT IS TALKING ABOUT I NEED TO GIVE YOU SOME BACKGROUND.  IN 2
KINGS 25 WE FIND THE ACCOUNT OF THE FALL OF JUDAH.  JUDAH WAS
GOVERNED
BY A BAD KING NAMED ZEDEKIAH.  THE NATION WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE
OF
BABYLON. AND ZED TRIED TO KEEP GOOD RELATIONS WITH BABYLON UNTIL A
POWERFUL PHAROAH CAME TO POWER IN EGYPT. ZED SAW AN OPPORTUNITY
TO
ALIGN HIMSELF WITH EGYPT AND  BECOME INDEPENDANT FROM BABYLON.
     THIS WAS A SERIOUS MISTAKE.  THE BABYLONIANS SURROUNDED THE CITY
AND LAID SEIGE TO JERUSALEM TO PUT DOWN THE REVOLT.  THE SEIGE LASTED
FOR 2 YRS.  BY THEN THE PEOPLE INSIDE WERE STARVING. AT NIGHT THE ARMY
BROKE A HOLE IN THE CITY WALL AND TRIED TO ESCAPE.  IT DID NO GOOD
BECAUSE THE BABYLONIAN ARMY CAUGHT THEM ON THE PLAINS OF JERICHO.
ZED
AND HIS SONS WERE CAPTURED.  HIS SONS WERE KILLED IN FRONT OF HIM AND
THEN HIS EYES WERE BLINDED. HE WAS TAKEN TO BABYLON.  THE
BABYLONIANS
THEN STRIPPED AND BURNED THE TEMPLE AND TORE DOWN THE WALLS OF
JERUSALEM.(JEREMIAH HAD PROPHESIED THAT ZED WOULD BE TAKEN TO
BABYLONIA, BUT WOULD NOT SEE IT.)
     THE JEWS DECIDED TO CREATE FOUR FASTS IN MEMORY OF THESE EVENTS.

I. INQUIRY ABOUT THE FASTS
     A. READ ZECHARIAH 7:1-3. NOTICE THE TIMING. THIS IS TWO YEARS AFTER
THE 8
NIGHT VISIONS THAT WE DISCUSSED IN THE FIRST 7 LESSONS. OUR LESSON
SUGGESTS THAT THE WORK ON REBUILDING THE TEMPLE IS WELL ADVANCED.
     B. WHAT WAS DELEGATION'S QUESTION?
     C. WHY WOULD YOU GUESS THEY ASKED IT?
     D. DID THE QUESTION SUGGEST SOMETHING? (PERHAPS NOT NEED TO DO
THIS ANYMORE SINCE THE TEMPLE IS BEING REBUILT. THIS PARTICULAR FAST,
THE
FAST OF THE 5TH MONTH WAS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.)
     E. IN GENERAL, WHAT IS THE REASON FOR A FAST?
     F. CONSIDERING THE BACKGROUND, IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF THIS
MOURNING AND FASTING, WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST THE PEOPLE
CONCENTRATE ON?  WHAT SHOULD THEY CONSIDER? (NOT THE DESTRUCTION,
BUT
THE CAUSE OF THE DESTRUCTION)

II. GOD'S QUESTIONS.
     A.GOD GIVES A REPLY TO THE DELEGATION. LETS READ IT IN V.4-7.
     B. WE ACTUALLY HAVE THREE REPLIES. LETS LOOK AT EACH ONE:
          1. IN YOUR OWN WORDS, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK GOD MEANT BY
HIS REPLY IN V. 5? (WERE YOU REALLY DOING WHAT I WANTED? WERE YOU
DOING
IT FOR ME? WERE YOU UPSET THAT YOU LOST YOUR TEMPLE OR WERE YOU
UPSET
THAT YOU HAD BEEN UNFAITHFUL TO ME AND BECAUSE OF THAT LOST YOUR
TEMPLE? WERE YOU SHOWING TRUE REPENTANCE?)(ALMOST LIKE SAYING, "FOR
ME--FOR ME?"(KJV)
               a. WHAT WOULD BE A PARALLEL FOR TODAY? WHAT KIND OF
QUESTION WOULD GOD ASK US TODAY IN THIS CONTEXT? (DO YOU COME TO
CHURCH FOR YOU OR FOR ME? ARE YOUR RELIGIOUS PRACTICES CHRIST
CENTERED?)
          2. NEXT REPLY: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK GOD
MEANT BY HIS REPLY IN V. 6? (YOU NEVER THINK ABOUT ME. NOT WHEN
FASTING
AND NOT WHEN EATING OR DRINKING.)
          3. NEXT REPLY: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK GOD
MEANT BY HIS REPLY IN V. 7? (YOU HAVEN'T LEARNED ANYTHING.  MY POINT
NOW
IS EXACTLY THE SAME POINT THAT I TRIED TO MAKE TO YOU BEFORE THE
BABYLONIAN DESTRUCTION. I GUESS GOD IS SAYING, "WHAT IS THE POINT OF
THE
FAST IF YOU HAVE LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE DESTRUCTION AND
REMEMBER
NOTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE BECAUSE OF THE FAST?)
               a. WHAT WOULD BE THE APPLICATION TODAY?  IF SOMEONE
SAID TO YOU, "WHAT IS THE LESSON FOR ME?" WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? (IF YOU
HAVE GONE THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES THAT WERE YOUR FAULT, DID YOU
LEARN
SOMETHING ABOUT IT OTHER THAN YOU DON'T LIKE TO GO THROUGH
DIFFICULT
TIMES.)
     C. GOD ANSWERED A QUESTION WITH A QUESTION.  HE SHOWED THEM THE
NEGATIVE SIDE--WHAT THEY WERE NOT DOING.  NOW HE GIVES THE
DELEGATION
A SECOND REPLY WHICH IS A POSITIVE ANSWER. READ V.8-14.
     D. THIS SECOND REPLY ALSO HAS 3 PARTS SO LETS FIGURE THEM OUT:
          1. TELL ME IN YOUR OWN WORDS WHAT YOU THINK IS BEING SAID IN
V.8-10.? (DON'T JUST FAST. LIVE RIGHT. BE FAIR AND HONEST AND THINK WELL
OF
EACH OTHER)
          2. TELL ME IN YOUR OWN WORDS WHAT YOU THINK IS BEING SAID IN
V.11-12? (YOU REFUSED TO LISTEN TO MY WARNINGS)(NOTE DEPARTURE HERE
FROM LESSON.  THE LESSON IMPLIES THAT THIS IS THE CURRENT RESPONSE OF
THE
PEOPLE.  I THINK THAT GOD IS TALKING BOUT HISTORY HERE.)
          3. WHAT IS BEING SAID IN V.13-14? (PRINCIPLE OF RECOMPENSE.  THAT
FAILURE TO OBEY BRINGS IN ITS TRAIN CERTAIN PROBLEMS. WHICH THE
PEOPLE
HAD JUST GONE THROUGH.)
     E. THE FINAL DISCUSSION OF THE LORD ON THIS ISSUE OF THE FASTS IS
FOUND IN 8: 16-19.  IN V. 16-17 GOD REPEATS THE POSITIVE INSTRUCTION ON
HOW
THEY SHOULD TREAT OTHERS. NOW LETS READ V. 18-19.
          1. WHY WOULD THE FASTING TURN INTO FEASTS?
          2. WHAT LESSON ON FASTING IS BEING TAUGHT HERE? ( 1)NO NEED TO
MOURN OR COMMEMORATE DESTRUCTION WHILE BUILDING IS TAKING PLACE.
INSTEAD, IF YOU FOLLOW GOD'S ADVICE AND COUNSEL, YOU CAN CELEBRATE
HIS
GOODNESS ON YOUR BEHALF.)

III. NEXT WEEK: 10 PROMISES OF HOPE.