A Question about Going without Eating
1On the fourth day of Chislev, the ninth month of the fourth year that Darius was king of Persia, the Lord again spoke to me. 2-3It happened after the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer with Regem-Melech and his men to ask the priests in the Lord's temple and the prophets to pray for them. So they prayed, “Should we mourn and go without eating during the fifth month, as we have done for many years?”
4-5It was then that the Lord All-Powerful told me to say to everyone in the country, including the priests:
For 70 years you have gone without eating during the fifth and seventh months of the year. But did you really do it for me? 6And when you eat and drink, isn't it for your own enjoyment? 7My message today is the same one I commanded the earlier prophets to speak to Jerusalem and its villages when they were prosperous, and when all of Judah, including the Southern Desert and the hill country, was filled with people.
8-9So once again, I, the Lord All-Powerful, tell you, “See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another! 10Don't mistreat widows or orphans or foreigners or anyone who is poor, and stop making plans to hurt each other.”
11-12But everyone who heard those prophets, stubbornly refused to obey. Instead, they turned their backs on everything my Spirit had commanded the earlier prophets to preach. So I, the Lord, became angry 13and said, “You people paid no attention when I called out to you, and now I'll pay no attention when you call out to me.”
14That's why I came with a whirlwind and scattered them among foreign nations, leaving their lovely country empty of people and in ruins.