What's My Motivation?

What’s My Motivation? – Zechariah 7:4-5       09/15/2019 The full text of the passage this week is Zechariah 7:1-7 which, as usual, I leave to you to look up.  Here we find a delegation of Jews who made the fifteen mile trip from Bethel south to Jerusalem.  The purpose was to ask about whether they needed to continue to fast over the destruction of the temple[1] in 586 BC.[2]  In response to this question, which actually turns out to be the wrong question, God delivered a response through Zechariah.[3] Historically, what was taking place was that, during the captivity, the exiles had adopted the practice of commemorating key national catastrophes associated with the Assyrian/Babylonian invasion through a day of fasting.[4]  There were four such events.  In the tenth month a fast was kept in recognition of the start of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem.[5]  In the fourth month, a little over a year later, the city was overcome.  So the Jews fasted in recognition of the conquest of Jerusalem.[6]  In the fifth month they fasted over the destruction of the temple.[7]  Then, in the seventh month, they fasted in remembrance of the murder of Governor Gedaliah.[8] Now in light of all this, the delegations question was specific and narrow.[9]  The question only addressed the fast over the destruction of the temple, the fast on the fifth month.[10]  The temple was being rebuilt, and they began to question the need to fast over its destruction.[11]  However, Yahweh, through Zechariah, answers more than they asked.[12]  But God did not respond directly to the question being asked.  Rather He addresses not only the true significance of fasting, but also the significance of all religious activity.[13] Now, interestingly, in spite of our English translations, the delegation did not actually use the term “fast.”  They use the terms (בּכה) [kŏh´] “to weep” and (נזר) [nā zēr´] “to separate oneself.”[14]  God responds by using the formal term (צוֹם) [tsoom] for “fast.”[15]  The fasts in question in Zechariah 7 are man-initiated and not God-ordained.[16]  The observation of these fasts were not for the purpose of pleasing or seeking God.[17]  It all sounded good, but they missed the point. Getting back to God’s response to this delegation, the answer is somewhat disconcerting.[18]  God was indifferent to whether the people fasted of not.[19]  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Zechariah begins to expand the circle of concern.[20]  What was their motive?[21]  This is what mattered to God.  The emphatic repetition of, “to Me, to Me,” at the conclusion of the verse is the key to understanding its meaning.[22]  Were these practices performed as a part of worship, were they an attempt to seek God? [23]  Fasting specifically, but all religious practice in general, must be an outward sign of an inner decision to humble yourself before God and to seek Him;[24] So how do we avoid this trap?  Once we begin to investigate this God the Scriptures teach about, we discover that He loves us.  It all starts with that.  Certainly, we live in a fallen world.  That is one of the consequences of our first parent’s decision to sin against their Creator.  As a result, mankind began to die, and the world was cursed.  There are many enduring consequences to this.  Now, as easy as it would be to lay all of our problems at the feet of Adam and Eve, I have to tell you we’ve done a very good job of maintaining the family heritage.  And… it’s not going to get better soon.  Left to our own resources, we’re on a downward trajectory that will culminate in separation from God, not because God wants that, but because by rejecting Jesus we reject a relationship with God.  If you do not want to be with Him, then you must be separated from Him.  But… heaven is being in the presence of God and hell is being separated from Him. That’s not what God wants for us.  In fact, beyond of all reason, God still loves us and demonstrates His kindness towards us in mercy.  This is applied to our lives through faith.  It’s not based our own goodness, or our own worthiness, it’s not gained by earning it, it becomes ours as a gift through simple faith.  Most of us get this; we understand that God loves us, and that we’re saved as we place our faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.  But… how do we now live out this new life we have in Jesus?  It-is-by-faith. So, what’s my motivation?  God’s astounding love for me, and my responding love for Him.  We seek to live holy lives in order to please Him.  We practice the Spiritual Disciplines to seek Him and to know Him better.  Our lives revolve around the reality of His love for us and our love for Him.  Now I live by faith because of Jesus’ love for me.  That changes everything. 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), Zec.

[2] Accessed from https://www.answers.com/Q/When_was_King_Solomon%27s_temple_destroyed on 9/9/19.

[3] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 219.

[4] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[5] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[6] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[7] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[8] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[9] Elizabeth Achtemeier, Nahum – Malachi, Interpretation: A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed., James Mays, OY ed., Patrick Miller, (John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.: 1986), 134.

[10] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[11] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 559.

[12] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 220.

[13] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 220.

[14] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 222.

[15] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 222.

[16] James E. Smith, The Minor Prophets, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1994), Zec 7–8.

[17] James E. Smith, The Minor Prophets, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1994), Zec 7–8.

[18] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 560.

[19] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament; Volume 10, The Minor Prophets, eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 560.

[20] George L. Klein, Zechariah, vol. 21B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 216.

[21] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 222.

[22] John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, and Talbot W. Chambers, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Zechariah (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 57.

[23] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1579.

[24] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 224.

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