The People Should Show Mercy
1It was the fourth year of King Darius’s rule. It was on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is called Kislev. The Lord spoke his word to Zechariah. 2The city of Bethel sent Sharezer, Regem-Melech and their men to ask the Lord a question. 3They went to the prophets and priests. They were at the Temple of the Lord of heaven’s armies. The men said, “For years the fifth month of each year has been a special time for us. We have shown our sadness and gone without food in this month. Should we continue to do this?”
4The Lord of heaven’s armies spoke his word to me. He said, 5“Tell the priests and the people in the country this: ‘For 70 years you went without food and cried in the fifth and seventh months. But that was not really for me. 6And when you ate and drank, it was really for yourselves. 7The Lord used the earlier prophets to say the same thing. Jerusalem and the surrounding towns were at peace and wealthy then. People lived in the southern area and the western mountain slopes.’”
8And the Lord spoke his word to Zechariah again: 9“This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says: ‘Do what is right and fair. Be kind and merciful to each other. 10Don’t hurt widows and orphans, foreigners or the poor. Don’t even think of doing evil to somebody else.’
11“But they refused to pay attention. They were stubborn and would not listen. 12They made their hearts as hard as rock. They would not listen to the teachings of the Lord of heaven’s armies. And they would not hear his words through the earlier prophets. So the Lord of heaven’s armies became very angry.
13“The Lord of heaven’s armies says, ‘When I called to them, they would not listen. So when they called to me, I would not listen. 14I scattered them like a hurricane to other countries. These were countries they did not know. This good land was left so ruined that no one could live there.’”