11 But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
The book of Zechariah fosters hope in the future promise of the messianic kingdom, but the when is related to Israel’s ability to follow and be faithful to God. From our two verses above it is clear they are not at least not initially … and this is as they return to Israel after seventy years of exile.
Reading the above verses a question should arise, “What did they refuse to pay attention to and turn their backs from while covering their ears?” What indeed? It turns out the people of Bethel sent their leaders and their staff to inquire of the priests and prophets of the Lord, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” (verse three) Then the Lord answered through His prophet Zechariah with pointed questions of His own and specific directions.
5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’”
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
He might as well be asking the same question of us, “Do we attend church to please God, to learn more of what He wants from us or do we do it simply for ourselves to make ourselves look pious and righteous?” We know the answer to the question. Each of us individually know in our own hearts if we do what we do for ourselves or for God. He knows as well as He knows our hearts. We may fool others and even ourselves, but we cannot ever fool Him.
He said something very similar to the prophet Ezekiel as well while the people were still in exile that is often true of people today.
30 “As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
So the questions for each and every one of us is, “Are we really listening to the word of God and are we putting the word of God into practice?” Or is it really just a show for those around us and to deceive our own selves?
Today is Monday, if you went to church over the weekend are you finding a way to put God’s Word into practice or do you have your ears covered until the next time you go to church?