The Lord sent a message to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Chislev. This was during the fourth year of king Darius' reign. Bethel-sharezer sent Regem-melech and his men to ask for the Lord's blessing. They were to ask the priests of the Temple of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I go on mourning and fasting in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
The Lord Almighty sent a message to me saying, Tell everyone in the land and the priests, when you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and the seventh month during these seventy years, was it really me you were fasting for? And when you eat and drink, don't you eat and drink for yourselves? Isn't this what the Lord told you to do through the former prophets, when Jerusalem was prosperous and inhabited, and when people were living in the Negev and the Shephelah?*
The Lord Almighty sent another message to me. This is what the Lord says. Judge fairly and truthfully. Show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Don't exploit those who are widowed or fatherless, foreigners or the poor. Don't think up ways of mistreating one other.
11 But they refused to listen. They were obstinate, turning their backs and closing their ears. 12 They made their minds unreceptive, as hard as stone. They refused to listen to the law or to what the Lord Almighty told them by his Spirit through the former prophets. That's why the Lord Almighty became very angry with them.
13 So since they didn't listen when I called out to them, I wouldn't listen when they called out to me, says the Lord Almighty. 14 With the winds of a storm I scattered them among the nations where they lived as foreigners. The land they left became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned the Promised Land into a desert.
* 7:7 “The Negev and the Shephelah”: the area to the south and the west.