“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace’” (Zech 8:19).
Zechariah was a “post-Exilic” prophet, i.e., he prophesied after Israel’s return from Captivity in Babylon. In his day, the people of Israel were seriously disheartened—their once beautiful city of Jerusalem lay in ruins and Solomon’s magnificent Temple has been destroyed. It must have seemed to many of the Returnees that God was still upset with them—for the task of rebuilding the Temple and the city and its walls was overwhelming.
Of course, part of Zechariah’s purpose was to encourage the people to rebuild, and that God was still very much with them—in spite of their sin and the calamity they experienced as a result of it. But, God was interested in much more than the rebuilding of a city—He wanted His people to re-commit themselves to His Ways as well.
Biblical fasts provide us with a unique opportunity to re-evaluate our relationship with God and to reassess to what extent we are actually doing what God has called us to. Of course, doing this doesn’t require a fast-day, but in spite of all of the spiritual rhetoric to suggest it is something we should do each day of our lives—we don’t.
And, in the case of fast-day like this one, Jews all over the world, and the Gentiles who are attached to them in the Messiah Yeshua can be connected together in a way that truly reflects God’s character and the love that He has for us all.