Zechariah 7:9-10 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, execute true judgement, and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother: and oppress not the widow, not the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor, and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
Zechariah was one of the Israelites that returned to Jerusalem from Babylon with Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. We are told in Chapter 1, that he was the son of Berechiah and the grandson of Iddo. As a prophet, Zechariah was contemporary with the prophet Haggai. Both encouraged the remnant of the Jewish people to continue the work of the temple that had been discontinued for a few years. As in many teachings of these prophets, the Israelites were encouraged to repent of their evil ways, turn back to God, and be obedient to His commandments. The first six verses of this book told them the reason for this change - to avoid the similar punishments that had been inflicted on their fathers for disobedience.
The text of this lesson is just one of God's commandments spoken through His prophet Zechariah telling them, as children of God, show judgement, mercy and compassion, do not oppress or plan evil against your fellow man. This commandment seems to beg this question: How can one be a child of God and not show judgement, mercy and compassion on others of God's creation? The world is full of hypocritical Christians - those that go through the acts of worship but do not demonstrate God's commandments in their works.
Isaiah proclaimed a similar prophecy in chapter 58: 1-7. In this scripture the Israelites were shown to be obedient to the outward ceremony of fasting, yet had no compassion for their fellow man. They fasted as God had commanded yet carried out oppressive ownership and the trading of their fellow men as slaves. Also, they fasted and yet did not share food and clothing with those in need. God said through Isaiah, the least you could have done was to give the food not eaten, during your fasting, to the hungry. Further, they should give shelter to the homeless and clothing to those that were naked. To worship God and ignore the needs of mankind, God says is hypocritical.
In a positive way, Job expresses this same thought in Job 31:14-23. There Job says that the same God that made me also made my fellow man. Job recognized his brotherly relationship with others. He showed his love for God by demonstrating his love for others. He did not ignore the needs of the poor, the widows, the fatherless, or those that need clothing. Job was no hypocrite. Job demonstrated his love for God by his benevolence to his fellow human beings.
Matthew 25:14-30 relates the parable of the talents. Here there are two groups noted and referred to as profitable servants, those that put their talents to good use, and unprofitable servants, those that failed use their talents in a worthwhile manner. Talents, in this instance, represent the abilities, wealth, and opportunities all men and women are given during their lifetime. The profitable servants were rewarded by God, while the unprofitable servants were punished. Our lesson today is to be profitable servants.
Matthew 25:31-46 tells us what it will be like on the Judgment Day . Like the parable of the talents, there will be two groups. Here they are represented as the sheep and the goats. The sheep are those that keep the commandments of God - they will inherit eternal life in Heaven. The goats are those that were disobedient - they will inherit eternal punishment into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
On what was this separation based? The "sheep" said they loved God and then demonstrated that love by showing good judgement, mercy and compassion for their fellowman. They fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, took in strangers, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and the imprisoned. The "goats" said they loved God, but showed bad judgement and lack of mercy and compassion to their fellowman. They kept their food and drink for themselves, and turned away from the needs of the stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned. It is not enough to tell God you love Him. You must show Him your love by demonstrating love for your fellowman. God wants us to begood sheep, profitable servants, and Show Judgment.