Zechariah 7-8

Zechariah 7-8

Chapter 7: Hypocrisy in Fasts

In the fourth year of Darius, the people ask if they should weep and fast in the fifth month to commemorate the destruction of the first temple. The Lord criticizes those who fast without a purpose, asking; “…did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” (Zechariah 7:5). He goes on to explain that all things done in hypocrisy are not of the Lord. Compassion and mercy unto your fellow man is more important than hypocrisy in fasting. It is very important to note that fasting is not hypocrisy if done with true intent for the Lord!

Chapter 8: The Restoration

The word of the Lord again comes to Zechariah and told him “…I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy…” (Zechariah 8:2). The Lord tells Zechariah that He will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be a safe place with children playing in the streets. It will be secure and safe. More people will return from the east and the west. The Lord also encourages the people to finish the temple. Judah is described as being a curse, but a curse that shall become a blessing.

The Lord explains that He is as determined to bless the people now as He was to punish them in the past. The Lord tells Zechariah what the people must and must not do to keep the Lord from becoming angry; “…Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16-17)

Nehemiah 1-2

Nehemiah 1-2

Chapter 1: Nehemiah Mourns and Fasts for the Jews

1,000 years after the time of Moses and about 400 years before the birth of Jesus, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state.

These are the words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah; “…And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

…Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

…But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.” (Nehemiah 1:1-11)

This entire chapter is a prayer to the Lord from Nehemiah regarding the Jews in Jerusalem.

Chapter 2: Artaxerxes and Nehemiah

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, Nehemiah (the cupbearer) took the wine and gave it to the king. (He would have tasted the wine to ensure that the king would not be poisoned). The king spoke to Nehemiah and said; “…Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart…” (Nehemiah 2:2). Because of this, Nehemiah was afraid.

So Nehemiah responds by saying:  “…why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” (Nehemiah 2:3)

The king responded; “…For what dost thou make request?” (Nehemiah 2:4)

Nehemiah turned and prayed to the Lord for an answer;  “…If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.” (Nehemiah 2:5)

The King responded to his request with a question;  ”… how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?” (Nehemiah 2:6)

The king was happy to send Nehemiah, but Nehemiah asked for letters to be given to him so that the governors beyond the river would permit him to come into Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he would give timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel for the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that Nehemiah would live in. The king granted this request, and sent him on his way.

Nehemiah went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters, accompanying him were captains of the army and horsemen that the king had sent with him. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

So Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then he arose in the night, and took a few men; and went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. After seeing this, he went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool.

Then he said to them, “…Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” (Nehemiah 2:17). He told them of not only God’s words, but also that of the king’s words, and the people responded “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to good work.

2 Chronicles 19-20

2 Chronicles 19-20

Chapter 19: Jehoshaphat Rebuked

Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. Jehu, the son of Hanani the seer went up to meet him and told Jehoshaphat if he should help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord, because the wrath of the Lord was going to be on him. But reassured him that because he had done some good that he could be saved from the wrath of the Lord. Jehoshaphat dwelt in Jerusalem and brought the people back to the Lord.

Jehoshaphat set judges throughout the land and all the fortified cities of Judah. He instructs the judges to judge for the Lord and not for man. They cannot take bribes and must act as an instrument of the Lord in the judging of his people.

Chapter 20: Jehoshaphat Prays and Fasts

Shortly after, the people of Moab and the people of Ammon came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Because of this Jehoshaphat becomes fearful and turns to the Lord and proclaims a fast throughout all of Judah. Judah gathered together to ask for the Lord’s helped.
Jehoshaphat stood amongst all of Judah and Jerusalem and spake unto them; “…O Lord God or our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee… If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” (2 Chronicles 20:6 & 9)

Jehoshaphat began his great prayer by recognizing the power of the Lord, he also prayed recognizing God’s great works in the past on behalf of his people. Essentially say, God has done great things in the past, so He can also do great things now.

God responds to Jehoshaphats prayer by telling him and all of his people to “…Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

This is something that we must always remember when we are put in situations where we feel overwhelmed or outnumbered, like we can’t do anything. We must turn to God and let him fight our battles for us. This however doesn’t mean that we can completely sit back and do nothing. We must still do all that we can, but whatever we cannot physically accomplish, we can accomplish with the help of God.

God instructs them to go down against the armies in the morning, he tells them to go and stand before them and watch the salvation of the Lord, and they wouldn’t even have to fight! Jehoshaphat and all of his people bowed to the ground and worshiped God, singing his name with voices on high. So the people wake up the next morning and head out to the Wilderness of Tekoa, where the Lord had told them to go. Jehoshaphat turns to Judah and gives them some advice; “…O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)

This is some very good advice, if you believe in God you will be established with his word. But if you truly want to prosper with that word, you must have a prophet. A prophet is called of God as His one and only authorized representative on the face of the whole world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the authorized church on this earth, with and authorized servant of the Lord, his prophet, who acts as an instrument and a mouth piece to speak to and teach his people. As Judah began to sing praises unto the Lord, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab on Mount Seir, who had come against Judah. They were completely defeated and Jehoshaphat and his people found all of the dead bodies, and on the dead bodies they found lots of valuables and precious jewelry. The spoil was so much that it took them 3 days to carry it all back, and on the 4th day they praised the Lord for his mercy and blessings!

Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king and he reigned for 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers. The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel. After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.