The People Should Show Mercy
1In the fourth year Darius was king, 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 who were at the Temple of the Lord All-Powerful. The men said, “For years in the fifth month of each year we have shown our sadness and fasted. Should we continue to do this?”
4The Lord All-Powerful spoke his word to me, saying, 5“Tell the priests and the people in the land: ‘For seventy years you fasted 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, when Jerusalem and the surrounding towns were at peace and wealthy, and people lived in the southern area and the western hills.’ ”
8And the Lord spoke his word to Zechariah again, saying, 9“This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: ‘Do what is right and true. 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 did not want to listen anymore. 12They made their hearts as hard as rock and would not listen to the teachings of the Lord All-Powerful. And they would not hear the words he sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord All-Powerful became very angry.
13“ ‘When I called to them, they would not listen. So when they called to me, I would not listen,’ says the Lord All-Powerful. 14‘I scattered them like a hurricane to other countries they did not know. This good land was left so ruined behind them that no one could live there. They had made the desired land a ruin.’ ”
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