The Jews thought themselves favored of God. They trusted that the land they occupied had been promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were the descendants of these patriarchs. The land had been promised to them. They had the priesthood, the temple, God’s promise and a true religion. They knew nothing could molest their peace.
The Lord commissioned Zechariah to deliver this warning to them:
“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.” (Zech. 7: 9-14.)
We can look at the Jews to whom this prophecy was delivered and see with clarity how they failed. We can see through their false presumptions, foolish beliefs and evil ways. We know how to correctly weigh them in the balance.
Imagine, however, if you lived among those people and shared their false presumptions. Imagine that you believed, as they did, that they were chosen, promised that nothing would molest them. Imagine you possessed a temple of God, true priesthood, and descended from prophets. How would you react when a prophet came among you crying that you were wicked, oppressed the poor, the fatherless and the stranger? Wouldn’t you think Zechariah was wrong while all of you were right? How can a message from a single person hold an entire nation of people accountable for how they respond?
I suspect it wouldn’t be any easier for us to see our plight as it was for the Jews to see theirs. I suspect our own harsh assessment of the failure of the Jews will be the very standard against which we will be measured in how we react to truth when it is declared among us. I doubt we can distinguish between truth and error any better than they did. But we pride ourselves on condemning them, and justifying ourselves.
The irony in all this is so thick you can hardly move.
How grateful I am to live at a time when there are messages received again from the Lord which can lead us to salvation, despite earth and hell, false messengers and fools, pretenders and charlatans. Yet will the Lord keep His promise that before He does anything, He will commission a message of warning. (Amos 3: 7.)