The Hypocrisy of False Fasting
1 In King Darius’ fourth year, on the fourth day of Kislev, the ninth month,1 the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. 2 Now the people of Bethel2 had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech and their companions to seek the Lord’s favor 3 by asking both the priests of the temple3 of the Lord who rules over all and the prophets, “Should we weep in the fifth month,4 fasting as we have done over the years?” 4 The word of the Lord who rules over all then came to me, 5 “Speak to all the people and priests of the land as follows: ‘When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and seventh5 months through all these seventy years, did you truly fast for me – for me, indeed? 6 And now when you eat and drink, are you not doing so for yourselves?’” 7 Should you not have obeyed the words that the Lord cried out through the former prophets when Jerusalem6 was peacefully inhabited and her surrounding cities, the Negev, and the Shephelah7 were also populated?
8 Again the word of the Lord came to Zechariah: 9 “The Lord who rules over all said, ‘Exercise true judgment and show brotherhood and compassion to each other. 10 You must not oppress the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, or the poor, nor should anyone secretly plot evil against his fellow human being.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention, turning away stubbornly and stopping their ears so they could not hear. 12 Indeed, they made their heart as hard as diamond,8 so that they could not obey the Torah and the other words the Lord who rules over all had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore, the Lord who rules over all had poured out great wrath.
13 “‘It then came about that just as I9 cried out, but they would not obey, so they will cry out, but I will not listen,’ the Lord Lord who rules over all had said. 14 ‘Rather, I will sweep them away in a storm into all the nations they are not familiar with.’ Thus the land had become desolate because of them, with no one crossing through or returning, for they had made the fruitful10 land a waste.”