The Significance of the Four Fasts Listed in Zech 8.19

These four fasts are still observed in many Jewish and non-Jewish Messianic circles today as a part of observing Jewish traditions, but it should be made known that they were never commanded by the Lord. In fact, Yehovah has a very interesting take on them. These fasts commemorated the following events: the fast of the fourth month is when the walls of Jerusalem were breached; the fast of the fifth month is when the city was burned; the fast of the seventh month is when Gedaliah was murdered and thecfast if the tenth month is when thexsiegebof Jerusalem began. These fast days were self-appointed times of mourning, which in and of themselves doesn’t make them wrong, but they had become mundane rituals and a way to get the Lord to do something for them at times. But that is not how the Lord works.

The key, from God’s point of view, on these fasts can be seen in Zech 7.1-14 when they asked Zechariah whether they should keep weeping in the fifth month of Av as they have done before. Yehovah answered and said, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months (Zech 8.19) these seventy years, was it actually for me that you fasted?” He goes on to tell them that he tried to get them to obey the Torah but they stopped listening, and that is why judgment came (7.9-14). The Lord was not interested in whether or not they continued with these practices, he never told them to do it in the first place. He was more concerned that they understood the reality of why the destruction happened. Jeremiah was told not to intercede for his people in Jer 7.16, 11.14, 14.11-12, nor to mourn over the coming judgment in Jer 16.5. In Ezek.24.16-23 Ezekiel also tells the people not to mourn over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Their fasting was an empty ritual void of any real repentance over the things that caused the destruction of the city and the Temple. If they turned to the Torah then the Lord would have found value in their fasting.

The people needed to remember why the city and the Temple were destroyed and repent, not weep and fast over the loss of a building with an empty ritual. He told them what they had to do to avoid this destruction, but they didn’t do it. They hardened their hearts so that they would not hear the Torah or listen to the prophets. In Zech 8.16 he told them what they should do instead of fasting and rituals. Then in Zech 8.19, he says that when genuine repentance back to the Torah is done, these fast days will have no significance and he is going to turn those fast days into days of feasting.

This can be applied to us today in many ways. We tend to replace genuine repentance with traditions and rituals that make us feel like we are doing something or makes us feel good about ourselves. Many observe these fasts today for the same reason. They don’t think about what the Lord told them to do, they do it because it is Jewish “tradition” because they think they must follow what the rabbis tell them to do. They believe God will respond to their efforts, or what they have given up, when he doesn’t have to respond to anything if he chooses not to. He never commanded these things to be done, to begin with, and a believer in Yeshua is not obligated to observe them. However, if one wants to fast on these days they are free to do so, but remember why these horrible things happened and not get caught up in blaming the Babylonians or the Romans for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Remember, God used them as his rod of judgment against a people that rejected the truth and that is why they came.

These four fasts would not have been necessary had the people obeyed God in the first place. Not even Jeremiah or Zechariah seemed to observe them and questioned the motivation of the people when they did. The conclusion the people should have reached was to find out what caused this terrible judgment and repented. When we find ourselves in similar situations, go before the Lord and find out what went wrong and how do we correct it. Sometimes fasting is necessary when we don’t know what to do and it helps us focus, but it should never be the main focus in and of itself.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Festivals of the Lord, The Tanak, Tying into the New Testament

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