A Message from Zecharyah - Zechariah Chapter 1: 2-6

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A Message by

Zecharyah - Zechariah

 Chapter 1: verses 2 to 6

 

Please Note: I will be using the “Jewish Publication Society” (JPS version of the Torah/Tanakh) with some minor updates.

For who may not use a Hebrew/English Torah/Tanakh and have a Bible the verse may occasionally differ by one up or down

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

In the beginning of chapter 1, we see Zecharyah - Zechariah delivering a short message. Then after he had spoken the Word Elohim had given him, the people knew without doubt that he was indeed a messenger sent by the Elohim of Avraham - Abraham, Yitzchak - Isaac and Ya’akov - Jacob! He might have been a young man at that time, but they knew that Elohim, blessed be He, had been speaking through him. As we look at the message, we will realise how special that message really was.

“In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of unto Zecharyah - Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying: ‘ hath been sore displeased with your (fore) fathers. Therefore say thou unto them; Thus saith of hosts: Return unto Me, saith of hosts, and I will return unto you, saith of Hosts - . Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying: Thus saith of hosts: Return ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings; but they did not hear, nor attend unto Me, saith . Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? But My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? so that they turned and said: Like as of hosts purposed to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath He dealt with us’” Zecharyah - Zechariah 1:2-6 (JPS version of the Tanakh with corrections and explanations).

Zecharyah’s subject was Y-H-V-H, blessed be His Sanctified Name, and he lovingly uses the most precious Name as follows some forty times in his book, “ of Hosts.” For He is the great I Am, Master of the universe, legions, armies, battalions, and all forces.

Israel felt rather insignificant at the time, having come out of captivity and having seen the power of Babylon, having been smashed by the mighty hand of Persia. Thus, proclaiming Elohim as “ of Hosts” meant so much to Israel at that time!

But we need to remember that Zecharyah also stated, “ of Hosts says, when are you going to RETURN to Me.” Now this seemed to be a strange thing to say, considering Israel had travelled so far returning all the way home from Babylon. You can almost hear them thinking, “Now, this young fellow is telling us to return to Elohim, but have we not travelled far enough already?” But the meaning of the message really is, you can return to the City of Elohim, blessed be He, but it looked very much like they had certainly not returned to Elohim!

And sadly the truth is that the message could also well be; you can be a Shul goer and pray every single word of the service as outlined in the siddur. But that means absolutely nothing, for, sadly, many tend to go to the Synagogue in a ritualistic manner, be it each and every week, or whenever they are able to go, or just on the Yom Tovim (feasts). But even then when many are there, the siddur has a service that tends to race like a formula one driver, and many just cannot keep up, even if their Ivrit is good to try to comprehend or understand, whilst many sadly may not be as good at it, thus they try to follow it as best as they can, or they don’t bother, and have a chat with a fellow member’s instead, which is so common. And to be honest rabbis over the centuries have kept on adding to the length of the Shabbat services, etc, and it is no wonder that so many leave our more frum Shul’s and head off to the more conservative / liberal Synagogues. Although personally I have been and always will be Orthodox. But it is sad the rabbinate has made Shul services a farce, as the truth is, we cannot in truth mean all those beautiful words with all our heart, when there are said at a speed so fast, meaning there cannot be heart in it. We have lost the love of worship, and I mean real worship in holiness!, not what man has turned it into, for what it has become a race of words, no matter how nice the words technically are, if they are said at the speed of light (so to say) it becomes without heart.

Is it vital that we praise and thank Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, with all our hearts and soul for what He has done for us, for if you really start thinking about your life, I am sure that you will realise that even though there will have been rough patches, but somehow, we will have always gotten through them, and we will be fully assured that He has always been right there with you, and that means everything.

Thus when you head off to Shul next time think about this; “Are you going to the House of Elohim, and can you only worship Him there or can you worship Him anywhere?” It is good to go to Shul, but prayer can be said at home or just about anywhere, a building is certainly not needed, for as yet we do not have a Temple - Beit HaMikdash - in Yerushalayim! Of course the ideal would be to see rabbis to change services, and edit the services to the point where it become a service where it becomes genuinely worshipful, with heart, as well as the blessed reading of the Parashat and Haftarah’s etc which is all part of the blessings, for without our readings we have no service.

You see what Zecharyah was saying to Israel at that time is still relevant and powerful to this very day!

But the tragedy was that B’Nei Israel had certainly returned to Yerushalayim, the City of Elohim and they commenced to rebuild the city as well as the Temple, but the temple was being rebuilt completely without heart and without fully returning to the Elohim of Israel. Thus it was very much a labour of the hands, and as we are told, it was certainly not a work of love and faith. And as I see it, as I have already indicated, the tragedy is that so many Synagogues in the past are sadly still being built just like that today, for people love the grandeur of their buildings and some Shul’s even have what can almost be described as very humanistic over the top, grotesque interiors, built at a massive cost. I recall back in old days when the Synagogue was a more simple if not a beautifully humble place, with the only places of beauty being “Aron Kodesh” (the Ark containing the Torah Scrolls) and the “Bimah” (being the raised ‘platform’ in the center of the synagogue from where the service is led and the Torah scroll is read, etc).

The truth is mankind’s pride sadly does not change, and that includes leadership in so many cases. It is so sad that these days we do not have prophets like great men of faith such as Zecharyah, just far too many rabbis who do not always teach 100% Torah, but are filled with their man made laws and other man-made ideology, etc, including praying to the dead, which is Sinful and is opposite what His Torah! Teaches!

Check the Word of Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, He never changes! His Word stands forever and no man can or should change it in any shape or formbut they did!

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of your Elohim which I command you” Devarim - Deuteronomy 4:2 (JPS).

Ye shall observe to do therefore as your Elohim hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the way which your Elohim hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you,” Devarim - Deuteronomy 5:28-29 (JPS) - verses 32-33 in other Bibles.

Now we begin to understand why Zecharyah had to be a prophet for the people of Israel did not as yet need a priest. This is the reason Elohim gave him this message, “Get back to (Me) and He (I) will come back to you.” The real root behind the problem of all nations and in the lives of individuals is; they have departed from the ways of Elohim, be it in part or all together. Many have decided not to keep the ways of Elohim, using many excuses why they should not. That is why Zecharyah started his message in this powerful way. Let us all learn from it, but more so beloved, let us heed to it!

Beloved, did you pick up the key phrase? It is “Your fathers.” What was the reason for speaking about their fathers? Elohimblessed be He, was revealing to themthat the only thing Israel had learned from history is that they had not learned from itand they continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, just as their fathers, fathers had done did, thus He was speaking about the “Forefathers.

Thus what Zecharyah said and how it was understood by the people was this;

was angry with your forefathers for they did not listen, nor did they heed to .” 1:2. (Paraphrased).

There is a big difference between hearing and heeding. You may hear the Word of Elohim, but you may not heed to it. You may be a good sermon taster, but that is not heeding or acting on Elohim’s Word. Be convicted by His Word, heed and act upon it and you shall be richly blessed. Zecharyah was saying; “Your fathers did not heed. They took no notice.”

As we have been lumbered with the same problems with the teachings of our forefathers, I pray that we will heed and listen! Sadly we are suffering from having been born into a ready made world, everything has been pre-designed and theologies, etc, are much laid out and we sort of check it out and just accept much of it, or parts of it, but we should really question these man made additions to our laws!

But Israel at the time of Zecharyah was suffering what I call practical atheism. The descendants of Shem, who were the seed of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov may have believed in Elohimbut they were living as if Elohim did not exist.

Did you realise that there are very few genuine atheists in the world?

Atheists will tell you straight “There is no God.” However, there are also millions, who do not deny the existence of a God, but ignore His existence by their behaviour and lifestyle. I call them the godless atheists.

Many people make the grave mistake not believing that Elohim means what He has said in His Tanakh. Many do not believe that there will be a “Day of Judgement” they think it is a “figment of the imagination.” It should be our prayer that many will heed the Word and know that one day Ha Mashiach is coming!

What happens to those that will not heed? Zecharyah makes it quite clear when he says, “Where are your fathers now”? This was his tragic answer; “They are dead.” Eventually, the Word of Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, will overtake you. What Elohim said He would do, He does. Then, it will be too late to change your mind! Turn away from Elohim and you will have to suffer the consequences, the consequences, which Israel has suffered, as history proves. Israel was taken into captivity and made slaves. You simply cannot turn away from the Word of Elohim without it having an effect upon your life.

Tragically, many have to go through much pain before they will cry out unto Elohim. Many learn the hard way and ask Elohim’s help when caught up in a disaster. It is during those moments they will seek Elohim and often repent during times of pain. However, one should believe and repent without a disaster in their lives. That was precisely what Zecharyah was saying to the people.

“Come back to Elohim ... Do it NOW, while things are good ... Get back with Elohim before you lose your life ... Don’t be like your fathers!” Paraphrased.

Below I would like to repeat a true story I shared in another study recently, but I felt it was worthwhile as it actually fits-in with this study!

A Story of an Edel Polish Rebbe’s Powerful Message of Love:

This is a true story that occurred many years ago in Poland. And it is a lesson that we all who have just read this study on love should read, and I am sure that it will be firmly lodged somewhere in your memory bank, and that is wonderful, but above all heed to this vital and important message!

This wonderful Rebbe who so dearly loved the Elohim of his fathers on this one Shabbas after the reading of the Torah and the Prophets he was about to deliver his Sabbath study, but as he stood close to the Aron Kodesh (the Ark of the Covenant) he seemed to be pondering on the message that he was about to give. Somehow the congregation noticed that he seemed to be perplexed and he remained quiet for what seemed such a considerable time, although it was only several minutes.

After what seemed to be a lengthy silence and with such sadness in his eyes, he commenced to speak, and then with a tear in his eyes he said. And I will just write it in simple English, rather than in Yiddish, which he spoke of course.

“Family and friends, today I will be giving you my shortest, but the most important message I have ever given. ‘And it is this, but I ask you that you listen very carefully and take heed, (and then he spoke more loudly) Repent one day before you die!’”

The Rebbe then took a step back, and stood there in total silence for he finished his message that Elohim had laid so powerfully on his heart for his congregation on that day and it was complete.

Throughout the entire Synagogue there seemed to be a deadly silence and it seemed just to go on and on forever and some even began to look at one another wondering what to do?

But then after a spell, suddenly somewhere from out of the silence, one of the young students stood up and he spoke and asked;

“But Rabbi, how will we know when we are going to die?”

The Rebbi replied;

Therefore my son repent NOW, repent this very moment, for no-one knows when they are going to die. It could be today, it could be tomorrow. Be ready for HaShem ( (Y-H-V-H) therefore my son and all at this congregation, Repent Now!”

Beloved, this story contains a powerful truth, because none of us know when our time will come, we should realise that no one really knows when we are ready to leave this life? Or do we have the attitude the Judeans had at the time of the rebuilding the Temple as we are told in the book of Zecharyah - Zechariah, where they said “Let’s get on with our personal comfort and build our homes and live, and leave the spiritual things for later.”

Sadly, far too many have become so involved in our own lives and work, etc, than giving our all unto Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, and sharing that LOVE with your loved ones, neighbours, friends strangers and workmates!

When we are obedient unto Him, you will have the assurance, that through His grace and love our spiritual lives will be in order! And Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, will speak to your heart, and I pray that as you have been reading this study, you may take an opportunity to set some things right with individuals and especially with Elohim, blessed be He! Do it now!

For those who have a yearning to learn more about the Torah and grow in being a good and faithful Jew, there are many valuable studies on Hebraic Studies enter the index below. If you have any questions you are welcome to email me.

And remember our motto seen on the logo at the top of this page: “The More Torah, the More Life”, for Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is the one who gave us our Life!”

Rabbi Reuven Ben Avraham.

 

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