Zechariah 7:1-14

God wants people to be fair and kind

1 The Lord spoke to Zechariah when Darius had been king for four years. It was the fourth day of the ninth month. The name of the month was Kislev. 2 Then the people in Bethel sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech and their men to Jerusalem. They came to ask the Lord to help them. 3 They came to the house of the Lord Almighty to speak to the priests and to the prophets. They asked, ‘Should we cry and not eat our food in the fifth month? We have done this for many years.’

7:3These people wanted to be in Jerusalem, but for 70 years they had to live in Babylon.

4 The Lord Almighty spoke to me. 5 He said, ‘Say this to all the people in this country and to the priests: “You lived in Babylon for many years. You ate no food and you were sad in the fifth month and in the seventh month. But you did not do this for me. 6 You ate and you drank. But you ate and you drank for yourselves. 7 These are the words that I, the Lord, spoke by my prophets in past years. At that time, the people in Jerusalem lived without trouble. Many rich people lived in Jerusalem. People in the Negev region in the south and in the low hills in the west also lived safely.” ’

8 The Lord spoke again to Zechariah. He said, 9 ‘The Lord Almighty has said, “Be sure that you are fair to all people. Be kind to each other. 10 Do not cheat widows or children who have no family. Do not cheat foreigners or poor people. Do not think secretly of ways to hurt each other.”

11 But the people would not listen and they turned away. They put their hands over their ears, because they did not want to hear. 12 They decided that they would not listen to God's rules or to the messages from the prophets. But the Lord Almighty had sent those messages by His Spirit. So I, the Lord Almighty, was very angry.

13 When I spoke to them, they did not listen. So when they prayed to me, I did not listen to them, says the Lord Almighty. 14 As a storm takes things away, I took my people away to strange countries. The country that they left became an empty country. Nobody lived in it. That is how they made the good country an empty country.’