Instead of fasting to commemorate past events, a person should rather “render true judgments, show kindness and mercyMercy is a term used to describe leniency or compassion. God's mercy is frequently referred to or invoked in both the Old and New Testaments. More to one another; not oppress the widowA widow is a woman whose spouse has died, often plunging her into poverty and putting her in a vulnerable position in society. Jesus, in his concern for the poor, regards widows with compassion and concern. More, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and not devise evil in your hearts against one another” (7:9-10).
Zechariah lists the four months when special fasts were observed. Jerusalem was besieged in the tenth month and conquered in the fourth month. The templeThe Jerusalem temple, unlike the tabernacle, was a permanent structure, although (like the tabernacle) it was a place of worship and religious activity. On one occasion Jesus felt such activity was unacceptable and, as reported in all four Gospels, drove from the temple those engaged... More was burned in the fifth month, and Gedaliah, Judah’s governor after the fallThe fall refers specifically to the disobedience of Adam and Eve when they listened to Satan rather than adhering to God's command not to eat the fruit from the tree. When people act contrary to God's will, they are said to fall from from grace... More of the king and the beginning of exile, was murdered in the seventh month (JeremiahProphet who condemned Judah's infidelity to God, warned of Babylonian conquest, and promised a new covenant More 39:1-2; 52:6-7, 12-14; 2 Kings 25:25). Rather than assiduously commemorating these ritualistic times of fasting, Zechariah exhorts his hearers to treat others with justice and compassion. Failure to do so will bring God’s wrath, but chapter 8 promises restoration for the people and the land. The shift in the emphasis of true religion from ritual to ethics is characteristic of the later prophets, such as IsaiahIsaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More 1:11-14; 61:1, 8; AmosProphet to the northern kingdom who condemned Israel's oppression of the poor, calling for justice to "roll down like waters." More 5:10-15, 21-24; and Micah 6:6-8.