The Fasts of Zechariah Reconsidered

Zechariah 8:18-19 speaks of four man-made traditional

fast days which are not commanded in the Torah.

Should we keep them?

Zekaryah (Zechariah) 8:18-19

18 Then the word of YHWH of hosts came to

me, saying,

19 "Thus says YHWH of hosts:

‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the

fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of

the tenth shall be joy and gladness and

cheerful feasts for the House of Judah.

Therefore love truth and peace.’”

Many people mistakenly believe this passage means

that the House of Judah is to keep these man-made

traditional fast days with joy and gladness, but this is

not YHWH’s meaning at all. Rather, YHWH is telling

the Jews not to fast, but to be joyful on those days.

How did these fast days get started? When King

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took the Jews into exile,

he burned the House of YHWH with fire, and broke

down the walls of Jerusalem all around.

Melachim Bet (2

nd Kings) 25:8-10

8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day

of the month (which was the nineteenth

year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of

Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the

guard, a servant of the king of Babylon,

came to Jerusalem.

140

9 He burned the house of YHWH and the

king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem,

that is, all the houses of the great, he

burned with fire.

10 And all the army of the Chaldeans who

were with the captain of the guard broke

down the walls of Jerusalem all around.

The Jews responded by declaring four traditional fast

days: the ninth day of the fourth month, the tenth day of

the fifth month, the third day of the seventh month, and

the tenth day of the tenth month. Notice that these do

not refer to the Day of Atonements, or Yom Kippur,

which is the tenth day of the seventh month.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:27-28

27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh

month shall be the Day of Atonement. It

shall be a set-apart gathering convocation

for you; you shall afflict your souls, and

offer an offering made by fire to YHWH.

28 And you shall do no work on that same

day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make

atonement for you before YHWH your

Elohim.”

They Orthodox/Pharisees have their reasons for these

things, but it is not our purpose to get into them here.

Rather, simply let us note that YHWH commands us to

be careful not to add to the festivals that He commands

us to keep, in His Torah.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:2

2 “You shall not add to the word which I

command you, nor take from it, that you

may keep the commandments of YHWH

your Elohim which I command you.”

Let us take a brief review of history, so we can better

understand the context of Zechariah 8:18-19.

YHWH told Jeremiah that He would allow the Jews to

return to His land after the seventy years of their Exile

had been completed.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 29:10

10 “For thus says YHWH: ‘After seventy

years are completed at Babylon, I will visit

you and perform My good word toward you,

and cause you to return to this place.’”

Daniel counted the years, and then prayed that YHWH

would remember His people, and have compassion

upon them.

Daniel 9:1-3

9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of

Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the

Medes, who was made king over the

realm of the Chaldeans —

2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel,

understood by the books the number

of the years specified by the word of

YHWH through Jeremiah the Prophet,

that He would accomplish seventy

years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

3 Then I set my face toward YHWH

Elohim to make request by prayer and

supplications, with fasting, sackcloth,

and ashes.

One man sows, and another man reaps. YHWH then

sent word through the Prophet Zechariah, that Judah

was to begin returning to His land.

142

Zecharyah (Zechariah) 1:14-16

14 So the messenger (angel) who spoke

with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying,

‘Thus says YHWH of hosts: "I am zealous

for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.

15 I am exceedingly angry with the nations

at ease; for I was a little angry, and they

helped — but with evil intent."

16 ‘Therefore thus says YHWH: "I am

returning to Jerusalem with mercy. My

house shall be built in it," says YHWH of

hosts, "and a surveyor’s line shall be

stretched out over Jerusalem."’

We cover more of the history in the chapter on the

Book of Esther, but in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah,

the Jews did begin to return to the land, and they also

began to build the Second Temple.

Ezra 3:8

8 Now in the second month of the second

year of their coming to the house of Elohim

at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of

Shealtiel, Yeshua the son of Yehotzadak,

and the rest of their brethren the priests

and the Levites, and all those who had

come out of the captivity to Jerusalem,

began work and appointed the Levites from

twenty years old and above to oversee the

work of the house of YHWH.

However, now that the Jews were back in the Land and

the Temple was being rebuilt, the Jews wanted to know

if they should continue to keep the fast days that they

had instituted because of the destruction of the temple.

YHWH responded with a series of questions to them,

essentially asking them, “When you fasted and

mourned these seventy years, did you really fast for

Me? (No.) Didn’t you really fast for yourselves? (Yes).

Because I never told you to fast on those days! Why

didn’t you just keep the Torah that I gave through

Moshe (Moses)?”

Zecharyah (Zechariah) 7:1-7

7 Now in the fourth year of King Darius it

came to pass that the word of YHWH came

to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth

month, Chislev,

2 when the people sent Sherezer, with

Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of

Elohim, to pray before YHWH,

3 and to ask the priests who were in the

house of YHWH of hosts, and the prophets,

saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month

and fast as I have done for so many years?"

4 Then the word of YHWH of hosts came to

me, saying,

5 "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?

6 When you eat and when you drink, do you

not eat and drink for yourselves?

7 Should you not have obeyed the words

which YHWH proclaimed through the

former prophets when Jerusalem and the

cities around it were inhabited and

prosperous, and the South and the Lowland

were inhabited?’"

In other words, “Why did you make up your own days

of fasting? Why did you not just keep My word?”

144

One might ask why it would be a problem if our Jewish

brothers want to make up a few fast days of their own,

to honor YHWH above and beyond what YHWH says

He wants us to do. The answer is that YHWH does not

really consider that to be honoring Him. He gives us

another witness, not to add to the commandments that

He gives us.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:32

32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to

observe it; you shall not add to it nor take

away from it.”

As we explain in Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life, the

grand test is to see if we will do what YHWH asks us to

do (which is to keep to the Tree of Life), or if we will ‘do

our own thing’ based upon our own thoughts (which is

the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). When

we add an additional festival day, or an additional fast

to His calendar that is precisely what YHWH prohibits.

King Solomon tells us that those people are liars.

Mishle (Proverbs) 30:6

6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke

you, and you be found a liar.

And here is why it is especially grievous: In the opening

chapter of this book (

Why the Torah Calendar?) we

recounted an old Jewish saying: that whoever’s

calendar you keep, that is whom you worship. If we

are careful to keep YHWH’s calendar, and to do only

as He commands, then YHWH considers that we are

worshipping Him. However, if we keep calendars that

have been created by men, then we are worshipping

men: and this is to worship an object of the Creation,

rather than the Creator.

One’s actions show one’s loyalty. If we obey YHWH

gladly, then our loyalty is with Him. However, if we

obey men, then our loyalty is not with YHWH, but with

man. In YHWH’s sight, this is tantamount to rebellion

against His authority.

When I was first called into the Messianic Movement, it

seemed to me that the quickest way to recreate the

Faith Once Delivered to the Saints was to do as

Yeshua and His apostles had done: that is, to start with

Second Temple Period Judaism, and reject everything

that contradicts with the Torah. However, as YHWH

continued to lead and guide me, I began to realize that

we cannot always see what conflicts with the Torah;

and so I began to realize that a much safer and surer

approach is be to begin with the Instructions of Elohim

(i.e., YHWH’s Torah), and then to add nothing to it, and

subtract nothing from it. If I cannot verify a tradition or

a teaching by the Words of Elohim (i.e., YHWH’s or

Yeshua’s words), then I cannot consider it to be Torah.

Our Orthodox brethren consider that when YHWH gave

the Torah to Moshe, He also gave Moshe the power to

modify it, as needed. They further consider that they

have inherited this power from Moshe. Therefore they

believe that their man-made customs and traditions

constitute literal ‘Torah Law’; and this is precisely what

they call it.

Zecharyah (Zechariah) 8:23

23 "Thus says YHWH of hosts: ‘In those

days ten men from every language of the

nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish

man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we

have heard that Elohim is with you."’"

146

It is a wonderful thing that YHWH is calling His

servant Ephraim out of the nations, to return back

home to his inheritance in the Land, the Language

and the Law. However, as much as we love our

brother Judah, let us be careful not simply to

accept his interpretations of ‘Torah Law’, let we

also be found guilty of giving our loyalty not to the

Creator, but to the Creation.

May YHWH please deliver all of His people from all

unrighteousness, soon and in our day.

In Yeshua’s name,

Amein.

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