Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Religion Good?

Is Religion Good?
Is Religion Bad?
Does it matter what you believe, as long as you believe in SOMETHING?

Todays story is interesting...

Zechariah 7
"You're Interested in Religion, I'm Interested in People"
1 On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God's Message again came to Zechariah.

2 -3The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God's blessing and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets.

OK. So this is the goal of all religion, everywhere, all the time. What do we have to do to win divine favor? We want good luck, and prosperity, good health, protection, and favor in our decisions. We want health, wealth and happiness. What do we have to do to ourselves and the gods, to achieve this??? What rituals do we have to do? Incantations? Burning incense? Shave our heads and wear orange robes? Grow beards and bow on a mat 5 times a day? What do we have to do to make sure everything goes well with us?

"They posed this question: "Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem's fall, as we have been doing all these years?"

Listen carefully. This is God speaking...

4 -6God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: "When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people."

We are hearing God's opinion on the matter...

7 -10"There's nothing new to say on the subject. Don't you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated? [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] Well, the message hasn't changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now: "
'Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don't plot and scheme against one another—that's evil.'

This is God's Word. His plan. His thoughts on the matter.

11 -13"But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said."

God spoke. The people would not listen or obey. God punished them...

13 -14"So [this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies said] if they won't listen to me, I won't listen to them. I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their 'promised land' became a vacant lot—weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland."

So is religion good?

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