Read Zechariah 7-8
Where Is The Authority?
Zechariah can be considered as a sort of sequel to Haggai’s prophecy. While Haggai encouraged the completion of the work started on the temple, Zechariah looked past the physical to the spiritual temple of God and the coming Messiah. As part of this, Zechariah urged the people to look inwardly and discover the motivations for their service and the attitude with which their service was rendered.
“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’” (Zechariah 7:4-5).
The Jews who had once been known for their thanksgiving were now characterized by weeping and mourning. They began practicing fasts that were nowhere commanded by God and requiring others to keep those fasts that were not divinely sanctioned. The reason for their fasts was not spiritual; they were mourning the loss of their status as a nation and the liberty they enjoyed with no thought of God.
There is certainly nothing wrong with an individual deciding to fast to help himself focus on spiritual things. The problem comes in binding that practice on others. There is no appointed time for the church to fast collectively. It is a voluntary matter for the individual Christian, to be practiced in times of need. If fasting is done as a mere formality, where is the meaning?
Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites for binding things on the people that are not commanded by God and refers to Isaiah’s prophecy in so doing. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).
Let us be sure to have authority from the Lord for the things that we teach others to observe, and that we have the proper attitude when we obey! “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).