Zechariah 7 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
The People Should Show Mercy
7 It was the fourth year of King Darius’s rule. It was on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is called Kislev. The Lord spoke his word to Zechariah. 2 The city of Bethel sent Sharezer, Regem-Melech and their men to ask the Lord a question. 3 They went to the prophets and priests. They were at the Temple of the Lord of heaven’s armies. The men said, “For years the fifth month of each year has been a special time for us. We have shown our sadness and gone without food in this month. Should we continue to do this?”
4 The Lord of heaven’s armies spoke his word to me. He said, 5 “Tell the priests and the people in the country this: ‘For 70 years you went without food and cried in the fifth and seventh months. But that was not really for me. 6 And when you ate and drank, it was really for yourselves. 7 The Lord used the earlier prophets to say the same thing. Jerusalem and the surrounding towns were at peace and wealthy then. People lived in the southern area and the western mountain slopes.’”
8 And the Lord spoke his word to Zechariah again: 9 “This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says: ‘Do what is right and fair. Be kind and merciful to each other. 10 Don’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 would not listen. 12 They made their hearts as hard as rock. They would not listen to the teachings of the Lord of heaven’s armies. And they would not hear his words through the earlier prophets. So the Lord of heaven’s armies became very angry.
13 “The Lord of heaven’s armies says, ‘When I called to them, they would not listen. So when they called to me, I would not listen. 14 I scattered them like a hurricane to other countries. These were countries they did not know. This good land was left so ruined that no one could live there.’”
Zechariah 7 New International Version (NIV)
Justice and Mercy, Not Fasting
7 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord 3 by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
4 Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: 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.’
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.
13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’”