Speak unto all the people of the land, and say unto the priests, saying, when ye fast and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye fast at all unto me, even to me? Zechariah 7:5
Reading from the first verse of this passage, the people of Israel sent two men to the priests in the house of God to ask a very important question bordering their heart – “Should I (we) weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I (we) have done these many years?
For seventy (70) years, Israel have been fasting and mourning in the fifth and seventh months of each year, the destruction of Jerusalem and pleading with God for restoration. They therefore wanted to know if they should continue the practice, hence the message to the priest. However, to the shock of everyone, God asked a solemn question which appeared in our text for today- “when ye fast and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
You can imagine the shock, surprise and fear in the eyes of the leaders when this message was delivered to them. Seventy (70) years of consistent service, mourning, fasting and prayer by the entire nation was not and NEVER recognized by God? God even emphasized it, did ye AT ALL fasted unto me, even to me? God seems to be saying ‘I am not aware that you are doing this for me, it did not originate from me, and the way you go about it, it was definitely not for me. Was it really for me? Sorry, I am not aware, and I have no record of it! It’s all a wasted effort!’
One thing is clear, it was not as if God is against fasting and prayer. However, these people were doing it for themselves and as they liked, as a religion (…You are interested in religion– Message Bible, Verse 6), maybe to please their leaders and as a national pride. They have neglected the word of God, living in wickedness and sin, perpetrating all manner of evils. So, God said, you cannot live like this and fast, and expect me to accept it of your hands.
This was re-echoed in Isaiah 58. God said Israel was behaving as if they were a nation that seek him daily, delighting to know his ways. They also came asking why they fasted and God did not see it, nor recognize it, afflicting their souls but God seems not to take note (verse 3). God however responded by saying “Behold, in the day of your fast, ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high” V3, 4.
Beloved, are you the type that is very much interested in religion and activities, being busy here and there, jumping from one meeting and activity to the other for the Lord, but when it comes to the matter of righteousness, holiness and obeying the word of God, you have no standing? For some, their activities are actually meant to serve as a cover up or substitute for a holy living, and as compensations for their moral and spiritual deficiencies. You are still involved in all manner of evil act and thoughts, when you are alone in the dark with or without the opposite sex, terrible things happen, you habour malice and un-forgiveness, you are bitter even with fellow church or departmental members; pornography, masturbation and fornication still holds you in their grips, your love for money is on the next level and you cannot be trusted with money, and lying has become your second name. However, you always comfort yourself that because you are very active in church, give good offering and tithe, and that your pastor likes you, all is well.
Beloved, ALL IS NOT WELL. God is asking “All these activities, all this busyness here and there, all this preaching and witnessing, all this prayer and fasting, all this singing and dancing, are they all for me, even for me, even when you continue to live as you are now?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21- 23 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have casted out devils, and in thy name done may wonderful work? And I will profess unto them, I Never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (emphasis mine). Beloved, preaching and prophesying, casting out demons, doing miracles, signs and wonders, doing the works of ministry is NOT enough to gain the recognition of God, if sin is Involved. No matter your position in church, no matter your level of service, no matter how popular your ministry is, no matter your voice and your singing, no matter your spirituality (it takes the highly spiritual to prophesy, cast out demons and do miracle signs and wonders) etc, if you live in or walk in iniquity, sorry, both you and the work will not be recognized in heaven. Jesus said “I will tell them plainly, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity! Was your work unto me, even to me? No wonder the Holy ghost through Paul said in 1Corinthians 3:13-15 “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abides which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so by fire.”. Some people’s work of a lifetime shall be burned completely without any trace, and therefore no reward because they were NOT unto him! What a pity.
In Haggai 2:11-14, God gave Haggai another solemn warning concerning services to God by someone defiled with sin. According to the law, if a Priest is wearing a Holy garment with the Holy anointing oil of God on his head, touches any object or item, it will not make it clean, in spite of his anointing. However, if someone who is defiled for example by touching a dead body, touches those same items, he will render them unclean. So God concluded “So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands, and that which they offer there is unclean”.
Beloved, this is a fearful matter. If you have been defiled by sin, by lust, fornication, or malice, and you are engaged in the work of the Lord, you have succeeded in defiling not only the work, but also the people whom you ministered to. I wonder how many defiled works are going on for God in our churches today. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-34 “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the alter, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift”(Emphasis mine). This is simply because a gift offered on the altar when your brother has something against you (not even you having the challenge) is equivalent to defiling the alter of God, and will not be accepted by God (even though your pastor may accept it). Oh! how many people are offering defiled offerings and tithes on the Holy altar of God today! Some even bring the proceeds of their crime, their adulterous lifestyle, their cheating in the business places etc to the Church, and we happily collect them and pray for them.
It is time we sit back and evaluate our lives and services for God. Are they really unto God going by the way we live our lives, even unto him? The children of Israel were lucky they heard those words when they still have the opportunity to make amends. What if it is at the throne of Judgment that we hear our own, how terrible it will be. That your 70 years, 50 years, 30 years 10 years or even 2 years of services were never recognized by heaven, and there are no records of them, not even of you. How terrible it will be. Beloved, this is an important issue we cannot run away from, or throw away easily.
Has your services been unto God, even unto Him?………..
God have mercy on us in Jesus name.