put together aug. 90
edited for use jan 95.
Notice the date given: the fourth year of King Darius, ninth month and the fourth day. This was two years after the building of the temple was resumed, and two years before its completion, and therefore at a time when the building must have been far advance, and the temple itself was probably already finished in the rough.
Here we see that the congregation of the Lord still in Babylon had sent delegates to the temple which was being rebuilt. Their purpose in coming was to enquire of the Lord.
Because the whole congregation sent these men, the whole nation of the Lord is represented in them, and the Lord speaks to the whole nation in them.
The question which they had was v. 3,
Should we continue to observe the fast and mourning which we have been observing so faithfully?
The nation had been faithfully observing annually the destruction of the temple by the Chaldeans, Jer. 52:12-14.
The observance consisted of fasting and mourning. The observance also included recognition of sin, guilt, prayer for forgiveness, and included the hope for the future restoration of the lost prosperity and glory that had been present in Solomon's temple that the Chaldeans had destroyed.
Now that they see the temple well on its way to being rebuilt, their question is, "Should we continue in our custom which observes the destruction and contains our hope for its restored glory, or should we now discontinue our observance?" Actually, there were four fasts which they were faithfully keeping, 8:19.
The efforts to hinder the rebuilding had been overcome, Ezra 4:1-5; 6:1-12.
The work was proceeding, and everything appeared as though the former prosperity and glory was going to be restored. The question which is put before the Lord involved a prayer that God would quickly changed the days of mourning into days of rejoicing.
The enquiry was directed to the priests and the prophets assembled in the temple; the enquiry was made with the hope that God might reveal His will through one of them of the priests or prophets.
And God did reveal His will through Zechariah. God's reply is given in two parts, 4-14, then 8:1-23.
V. 5, the people keep the yearly fasting and mourning as they faithfully observed the time set aside for this purpose. The people could not have been more faithful and dedicated to the religious custom during the seventy years of captivity, and they fully expected God to hear, answer and restore what had been destroyed seventy years previously.
They expected the observance of the ritual of fasting and mourning to have merit with God and to move his hand in their behalf.
They were surprised and discontent that God had not yet acknowledged and rewarded their faithful observance of so many years with the return of the former glory of the temple and nation.
Note that this was a fast of custom, not of law. The law required fasting only on the day of atonement, Lev. 23. This was not that fast.
THE LORD'S RESPONSE
Vv. 5, 6 The Lord's response to their inquiry was addressed to all the people.
Yes, you have faithfully every year for seventy years kept the custom of fasting, mourning, prayer and public admittance of guilt. You thought you were keeping that religious custom to gain merit with me, to urge me to action. But, the other 360 days of the year you lived to your selves. Why didn't you hear the words spoken by the prophets when Jerusalem was still inhabited and in prosperity? Why weren't you concerned about keeping my law before the temple was destroyed?
The past prophets of God had spoke against the observance of religious customs apart from a daily walk with God according to His law, vv. 8-14. The Lord points out that He preached to their fathers back then, but they refused to listen, vv. 9 - 12. V. 11, they stiffened their shoulders as an ox which will not allow a yoke to be placed on its neck, Hos. 4:16. They plugged up their ears, and made their hearts as hard as the diamond.
In other words, as the former prophets preached to the fathers their duty to God and His law and their duty to their fellow man, they refused to hear and obey. V. 14, for they laid the pleasant land desolate. God didn't destroy the land, the city nor the temple, but the fathers did it through their refusal to hear and obey God's law-word as given through His prophets.
What do we have thus far?
1) The people of God, still in exile, saw the temple being rebuilt.
2) They had been observing for seventy years a custom of fasting and prayer which involved praying for God to restore Israel to its former glory. The temple they saw being rebuilt appeared to be the answer to the prayer which their religious customs commemorated.
[Along with this would also be a reference to the many prophecies of the future glorious kingdom of the Messiah which all nations of the earth would "flow" into, Zech. 8:20-23. Was this rebuilding of the temple the two part fulfillment of these prophesies? (a.) Rebuilt temple. (b.) Renewed glory under the reign of the Messiah which would see all of the nations of the earth honor Him?]
3) The representatives came to enquire of the Lord to see if they need to continue the customs which they had so faithfully kept these many years. Or is what they see the fulfillment of what they have been longing for?
4) The Lord answers them, but not with the answer they expected. Rather, the Lord tells them their customs are nothing but hypocrisy. these people were no better than their fathers who caused the destruction and captivity with their rebellion 70 years previously.
The people did not go into captivity because they did not observe a religious custom. They had been warned and warned to return to the law of God in their relationship toward him and toward their fellow men
E.g. just one of numerous examples, Hosea 4:1-6: The people were threatened with extension because of their lack of obedience to the law of God. In Hosea 8, we see that they are threatened with a whirlwind which will scatter them world-wide if they don't quite ignoring God's law, vv. 7, 12. Yet they refused the warning. Therefore, the people were scattered with a whirlwind among all the nations. Their fathers destroyed themselves, Hosea 13:9.
God points out to these inquirers of Zechariah's day that
they are no better than their fathers who caused the destruction
in the first place.
They keep their customs and lay aside the law of God.
They serve God one day (actually there were three more fast and mourning days which commemorated other events, 8:19), a year and serve themselves the rest of the year.
Only if they will serve him the rest of the year will he turn their fasting and mourning into joy and gladness, Zech. 8:19.
He says that their fathers cried out to Him in their distress,
and He would not hear them because they would not hear His cry
to return to Him, v. 13.
They professed with their mouth their love for Him but refused to execute true judgment and to show mercy and compassion to every man his brother.
They continued to oppress the widow, the fatherless and the stranger.
They ignored even the inner duty and imagined evil against their "brother", vv. 9, 10.
These who were seeking God's face were doing the same, (See Ezek. chp. 14 for a good example of this).
There are many good applications from this chapter.
First, we see that God sees, understands and will judge the motives. The observance of the religious customs was in hopes that they would some how merit God's blessings to them. It didn't impress God at all; in fact, He tells them that this brought His wrath against their fathers. It will do the same for them.
Second, we see that faithful observance of religious customs cannot replace faithful observance of the requirements of God (law of God), toward Him and toward our fellow human. They felt they were pleasing God by their outward formal religious activity, yet they were full of dead men's bones, (See Jer. 14:12).
My, my, how prevalent today. Christianity has been reduced to faithful observance of religious customs with no love for the law of God, no compassion on our neighbour and no mercy.
A "Christian" is gauged by how many times he goes to church, tithes or anyone of a number of other outward activities, yet in the heart is no mercy, compassion or truth. The heart is overran with covetousness. If the heart was seeking after God's righteousness, all of these outward religious activities would be present, including the faithfulness in assemblies and giving. Isa. 58:6 identifies the true fasting. This is missing more often than not.
I will never understand for the life of me how other "Christians" can look up to and even seek council from those who have no outward signs of mercy, compassion and love for their fellow believers. They have the words but no actions. They have "heaps" of religious activity but their actions are anything but compassionate and love. We sure have a perverted definition of "spiritual".
Third, along this line, faithful observance of outward religious "activity" will not avoid the judgment of God.
As we place this in the context of our day, people, as well as a society or nation, see things start to come apart. Their response may be to get involved in religious activity to ease their conscience. But their religious activity will not solve the problem.
We see a lot of this religious activity around us today, yet very little emphasis on returning to God and His word in the heart. It is very significant here in Zech. that God makes it clear that He did not judge His people for not being religious enough or involved in enough activity. He judged them for refusing to hear, apply and doing His law, v. 12.
Fourth, we see that all of the crying out to God in the world in their distress was useless: He would not hear, Jer. 14:12.
It would not work for the fathers of the church nor will it work of the children, us today, (Heb. 3:9; I Cor. 10:1; Ps. 95:11).
Faithful religious observance of customs passed down by the church will not influence God for our benefit at all. We cannot merit God's hand of blessing with religious observes.
Vv. 8-10 clearly gives the key to inheriting God's blessing.
January 15, 1995
As we mentioned last week, there are many good applications from this chapter.
First, we see that God sees, understands and will judge the motives.
Second, we see that faithful observance of religious customs cannot replace faithful observance of the requirements of God (law of God), toward Him and toward our fellow human.
Third, along this line, faithful observance of outward religious "activity" will not avoid the judgment of God.
Fourth, we see that all of the crying out to God in the world in their distress was useless: He would not hear, Jer. 14:12.
Fifth, becaise I think this is especially important in our day, I saved it for a seperate message. Note again 7:14b.
It seems like 90% of the "Christian" material which we are exposed to, whether through the electric media or printed page, emphasis the conspiracies which are going on.
Since I got out of the service in 1965, I have continually heard of groups of elite men managing society for a world-wide collapse which they plan to leave them in charge. They are investing untold amounts of money to bring about the collapse. They are using every drop of influence they can gather to sway public opinion in the way which will best serve their conspiratorial purposes. They are making detailed plans to protect themselves when all of this comes about.
Sad to say, as we see society going along the lines which these conspirators have planned we are tempted to look at them and say, "They are to blame. Their conspiracies are working. If we can expose or stop their plans, then all will be okay. If we can get rid of them or thwart their plans, things will return to normal."
I just completed a book on the French Revolution. It was so exciting, I could not put it down.
For several years, I have been working on a manuscript tracing the roots and influence of a great amount of modern "Christian thought;" the roots are found in "Brethrenism." Encountered in the research has been several mentions of the French Revolution preparing the way, both "sacred and secular," for the "Christian thought" introduced in the early to mid 1800s. Moreover, the Revolution is referred to by other teachers as the turning point for Western Civilization: it turned Western Culture from God-centered to a man-centered.
Like many others, upon obtaining a book, I may not at the time read that book. Such was the case with a book I acquired a few years ago: Robespierre, The Voice of Virtue. [Otto J. Scott, © 1974, Mason & Lipscomb Publishers, New York.] Hearing so many references to the French Revolution, I concluded it should be examined. I realize that one book does not an expert make, except, of course, the Bible, but one book can certainly give a general overview of a subject. It was time to check into the Revolution a little, so I turned to Mr. Scott's book. Mr. Scott follows the life of a key figure in the Revolution, Robespierre, from his very small, humble beginnings in 1774, through his becoming a lawyer in a small town in France, through his rise to power in the Revolution, to finally his death at the hands of the machine of destruction he helped create, the Revolution and the guillotine, July 28, 1794, at age 36.
The French Revolution was more than simply a revolution against a constitutional monarchy. It was open warfare against Christian culture, holding that religious leaders must be defrocked in order to "create a new world society." [P. 167.] The Revolution could thus be defined as the modern revolution and triumph of humanism and humanist law over Christianity and Christian law. After Robespierre's death, "The war went on with its revolutionary rhetoric; its talk about Liberty and Equality; its fight against the Christian religion; its worship of efficiency no matter what the human cost." [P. 233.] It was the French who introduced and developed the Communism so warmly embraced by Lenin, &c. The French Revolution developed the idea that the individual is of no importance in the name of the "People." "What we learn from the study of the Great Revolution is that it was the source of all the present communists, anarchists, and socialists conceptions,' said Prince Petr Kropotkin in The Great French Revolution (New York: Putnam's Sons, 1909)" [P. 258.] Though the French Church was Roman, the Revolution was obviously against EVERY vestige of Christianity. The Revolution was French, but its ideas spread "Across the face of European culture "
It took place only a few short years before the early "Brethren" appeared on the scene, and it prepared Europe's "secular and sacred" societies to readily and gladly imbibe the "Brethren's," in Dr. Ironside's words, "distinctive school of Christian thought " Since the introduction and development of that "thought," "Brethren" "propaganda has been world-wide, and thousands have accepted their views on many lines who are not openly identified with them " [A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement, H.A. Ironside, pp 7, 9, 1985 reprint. Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey.]
In the Revolution, Louis the Sixteenth was guillotined in January, 1793, and was buried without a funeral, his Queen, Mari Antoinette, was guillotined in October, 1793, and uncounted tens of thousands of innocent people perished in the name of "the Rights of Man." Many extremely important and unique concepts developed in the Revolution, and those concepts influenced every corner of European society. The Revolution provided a ready audience for the new "distinctive" ideas formulated by the early "Brethren." The Revolution was encouraged by a liberal church which itself fell victim to the Revolution.
The Revolution broke up the ground to be further cultivated by the liberal church of the early 1800s; the fertile ground was ready for the seeds of "Brethrenism's" "propaganda [that] has been world-wide, and thousands have accepted their views on many lines who are not openly identified with them " The Revolution, followed by the liberal church of the early 1800s, permitted the "distinctive school of Christian thought " to deeply root and bear much fruit. Some of the ideas introduced by the Revolution, most of which were new and unique at the time, are still widely used today. They include:
The religion of Patriotism replaced the church and Christianity, i.e. Patriots were seen as the social changing force rather than preachers proclaiming the Biblical, Christian Gospel of Christ; the "Republic," France, became the new god, so, therefore, sin and blasphemy was defined as any move against the State; the mark of the true Patriot was swearing allegiance to the new god, the "Republic's" Constitution; Left, Right and Center became political terms; "purge" changed from a medical to a political term; poverty was considered proof of one's sincerity and virtue, and thus "lack of success was not due to inability but to injustice;" charges of secret conspiracies were used to unite people to follow the desires of those making the charges, e.g. conspirators were the source of all the nation's ills; the "Rights of Man" were exalted above everything, and multitudes of innocent people died in the name of "the People;" equality was equated with liberty; "spontaneous," nation-wide demonstrations sprung forth at key times in key places to further the Revolution's goals, e.g. to destroy Christianity; propaganda was used to change social ideas, i.e. words were seen as weapons of warfare, so truth was of no concern; innumerable pamphlets and journalists mysteriously appeared, speaking in a united voice to mold public opinion, and truth was unknown from fiction; the mandatory tithe was outlawed; the duty of the State was to support the poor at the expense of the rich; every vestige of Christianity was abolished, churches destroyed, priests killed, metric system imposed and the calendar changed; the Revolution was seen as the means to bring the people to Paradise, so the Revolution had to be spread world-wide for world-wide Paradise to arrive [" the rest of the world would soon topple its monarchs and nobility, defrock its religious leaders, and create a new world society."]; the Government was only interested in controlling "Political crime," and finally, for our mention here, children over five were considered State property.
[Robsepierre, pp 76, 92, 107-110, 114, 117, 124, 125, 135, 148, 186, 131, 135, 140, 147, 161, 163, 167, 168, 186, 188, 194, 200, 213, 215, 216, 224, 227, 233, 258.]
Obviously, a great many Frenchmen fled the horrible situation in France, taking with them the news and influence of the Revolution. Accordingly, European society and the early Brethren were greatly influenced by what had happened just a few short years previously: The early 1800s were pregnant with the concepts of the Revolution, and the Revolution brought forth ideal conditions for militant, world-changing Biblical Christianity to be replaced by powerless, mystical Christianity. Christian men of great character and abilities, latter known as "Brethren," come upon the scene, ripe from the Revolution, who made the change. How they felt, what they believed, the way they reacted to surrounding events and the public's general attitude at the time of their arrivals must all be considered in the light of the times: They, as are men of all ages, were children of their time.
The New Religion Born
But the "Brethren" and the world-wide spread of their "propaganda" is not our present concern. The manuscript will be completed soon, Lord willing. What we want to point out is that the Revolution introduced a new religion, PATRIOTISM. In Mr. Scott's words, "Catholic rituals had vanished in the wake of clergy and the new religion was Patriotism." [P. 114, emp added.] Though not condoning Romanism, note what took place in this revolution against what was known in France as Christianity: the religion of Christianity was replaced with the religion of "Patriotism." Accompanying the Patriot Religion's, i.e. PATRIOTISM, replacement of Christianity was the rise of all that Christianity stands against: sexual perversion of all sorts, open occultic practices, gambling, orgies, seances, Black Masses, prostitution, pornography and claims of advancing "liberty while extending sensual slavery." [P. 92.]
With exceptional evangelistic fervor, Robespierre charged that conspiracies were being formulated against him, against the Revolution's cause and leaders, and against the "Republic" of "the People." His charges stirred the general population to both support and join the new religion, viz. "Patriotism." Knowing the power of the fear of secret conspiracies, the leaders of the Revolution blamed all the nation's ills upon conspiracies, conspiracies against the "Republic," conspiracies against the "Constitution" and conspiracies against the leaders of the Revolution. The fear they nurtured enabled them to retain and strengthen their power in the "People's" revolution. "Patriots appeared strangely prosperous," [p. 135] and seemingly had more than sufficient funds to print their messages, as long as the messages corresponded to what appeared to be a predetermined agenda.
Robespierre had become a power. His methods were both subtle
and exciting. His charges of conspiracy evoked the uneasiness
of his audience because they knew that hundreds of thousands of
dispossessed emigres had very real grievances
brought these fears into the open and rode the emotions they aroused.
A call went out from Paris for patriotic volunteers to help the armed forces resist enemies without and within, to eliminate aristocratic leaders inside the armed forces, and to promote patriots in the Army and Navy. These exhortations combined lures of opportunity with the appeals of patriotism [p. 148.]
Robespierre expounded on the perils of patriots and proposed the creation of a sans-culotte army to be paid for by the rich and armed by new munitions factories. Such a revolutionary army of patriots, said the speaker, would purge the [nation's, ed] ministries and the military of traitors, and arrest all aristocrats and "blasphemers against the Republic." That opened a very large door, whose yawning recesses were partly obscured, for the moment " [p. 186.]
A new Constitution was formed, promising Liberty and Equality for all. The mark, accordingly, of a true patriot was swearing allegiance to the Constitution of the new "Republic." Church leaders were not exempt from having to pledge their primary loyalty to the new Constitution; a very few leaders took the pledge, but far more fled the country. The ones who did not flee and did not pledge their loyalty to the Constitution were arrested:
When the priests arrived Maillard and his men, sabers ready, went out and met the carriages. They began to chop and stab, slash and cut as soon as the priests descended from their vehicles. [p. 163. Date: September 2, 1792.]
There were, therefore, some very basic premisses established by the French Revolution for its new religion. A few of the more obvious doctrines developed:
First, zeal was required. The zeal and fervor of those involved in "Patriotism" and its tenants could be described by no other term than by "religious zeal." "Patriots" were out to convert everyone around them to their way of thinking as they took their message everywhere. Moreover, they were totally unafraid of offending others as they took the offensive in the name of the "Republic" and "Constitution." Though anti-Christian, they clearly applied Mat 28:19, 20, expecting to conquer the world: "The revolutionary leaders believed England was on the brink of overthrow and that the rest of the world would soon topple its monarchs and nobility, defrock its religious leaders, and create a new world society." [P. 167.]
Second, primary allegiance had to be to the Republic's Constitution. Anyone who would not swear to uphold that Constitution was not a true patriot. Some of the patriots lived good, moral lives, but morality was not required to be a good patriot. His actions may have be morally reprehensible, e.g. many patriots enjoyed killing non-patriots and paraded the dismembered bodies through the streets, but as long as he supported and defended the Republic's Constitution he was pure in the eyes of his religion. The nation had been officially "Christian," though Roman, so no doubt some of the patriots reverenced the Word of God, but "Patriotism's" rallying point was to study and defend the Republic's Constitution.
Third, leaders had to speak in a united voice. Secret conspiracies were the cause of all the Republic's ills. People gladly united and supported the patriots who laid the nation's ills on something other than individual sin. Therefore, it was possible for the morally degenerates to be members in good standing in the Revolution's new religion, "Patriotism."
Fourth, a good patriot citizen willingly united in defence of the Republic and its Constitution. Under "Patriotism," private armies were formed to protect the "Republic" and its "Constitution." It only followed then, that the new religion of "Patriotism" gave sin and blasphemy new meanings: Sin was the transgression of the Constitution as both public servants - Louis the Sixteenth - and private citizens were held accountable to the Constitution. Blasphemy was defined by "Patriotism" as actions and words against the Republic.
Note the militancy here against God. The immoral sinner could be justified in the Revolution through patriotic action. Many of the "Patriot" leaders in the Revolution were immoral beyond description, yet they were exalted in the eyes of the people because they "loved" the Republic and the Constitution. The patriot's standing in society was no longer determined by attitude and actions compared to God and His Word, but by his attitude and actions toward the Republic and the Constitution. The replacement of Christianity in society by the Revolution's new religion of "Patriotism" could not be clearer than at this point.
Fifth, perversions and immorality may have been discouraged, but they did not exclude one from the new religion of the Revolution. "Patriotism's" replacement of Christianity permitted the rise in sexual perversion of all sorts, occultic practices, gambling, prostitution, pornography, &c. In other words, the "Patriots" promised liberty, but they actually produced slavery as society became a slave to the fallen natures of its citizens.
Clearly, the "Patriots'" offer had to be a lie, for true freedom is found only in the Biblical Religion, i.e. genuine, life-changing, world-changing, Christianity, John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. The patriots' goal was not to develop the truth and to direct their followers to the truth; rather, their goal was to make everyone know and conform to the Constitution.
Though there are many doctrines we could developed from the Revelation's religion, we will only mention one more. We saved the most telling one for last.
Sixth, patriots were confident that "Patriotism" would change society and obtain paradise on earth. The Revolution outlawed the church, and in doing so, the many church supported agencies collapsed. There are two critical points here:
First, the new religion of man saw the Word of God as powerless [it may well have been in the hands of the French Romanist], so it replaced the church with "Patriotic action" as the force of social change. The Revolution's religion replaced the preaching of the gospel, the whole counsel of God, with "Patriotic action," for it saw no hope of changing nations for good, and it saw no need to change them for God according to Matthew 28:19, 20. Therefore, "Patriotism" united around "Patriotic" causes as it studied the "Republic's Constitution" and how to hold others accountable to that document. Maybe the Word of God was mentioned or even used, but, evidently, its use was little more than symbolic. The focus of all attention, activity, speaking and study was the "Constitution" and how to defend the "Republic."
Second, it saw the Christian religion, though Roman, as a threat of its goal to create "a new world society." Therefore, it silenced the Christian religion.
The vast portion of modern "Christian thought" was formulated in the atmosphere of the newly developed religion of man, "Patriotism." The seeds of the "distinctive school of Christian thought" planted in the field prepared by the Revelation's new religion resulted in a hopeless Christianity: The average Christian sees no hope that evangelization and the application of God's Word can change society. If he desires to see society change, he is, therefore, left with no choice but to abandon the Biblical Christianity that turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) and take up the religion formulated in the French Revolution, "Patriotism."
Thus the only weapon against the "new world society" was effectively silenced by the Revolution: the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ and His applied law-word was replaced by the message of "Patriotism." And those captive by sin love to have it so.
Back to Zechariah's fifth point: Zechariah's vision here exposes conspiratorial theories for what they are: a smoke screen to get God's people's eyes off the real problem. The plans of the elite have nothing to do with the destruction of people and nations any more than Babylon had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem which the customs commemorated, v. 14. The French Revolution was encouraged by a liberal church which itself fell victim to the Revolution.
And every revolution since is a result of unBilical Christianity, and the blame can be placed no place else.
Look at what the Lord tells these religious people, for they laid the pleasant land desolate. God warned His people through His word delivered by the prophets. He told them over and over that they were destroying themselves. He revealed to them the way of success, victory and life. He warned them to follow it. They would not believe the warning, vv. 11-12. They proceeded on in the way which they felt was best. They would accept any message except the one contained in v. 12. A message which blamed Babylon for what happened would gain wide support and approval, but one that placed the blame where it belonged drew great hostility. The blame rested on those who turned from the way of life.
No doubt there are tremendous conspiracies. The conspiracy started in the garden and has continued on. It is the same one with the same goal: throw off the cords and bands of God's law, Ps.2. The same evil one is behind it, and the only thing which has changed is the people and tactics which he uses. His goal is still the same as he tries to unite the world under his rule and authority.
Our temptation is to look back upon the movement of his conspiracy and say, "My, look how powerful they are. We don't stand a chance." But the problem is not the power of the enemy; the Lord clearly speaks and tells why conspiracies succeed.
V. 14, "We" are destroying ourselves. Who? The good, faithful, religious people who faithfully observe all of the religious customs which are expected of them, yet do not have what God requires in their heart, vv. 9-12. These are the ones who are destroying society, not the ones who are working a conspiracy. Whether there was a conspiracy or not would not change the outcome, destruction. VV. 13, 14, is as clear as possible. Babylon did not destroy Israel.
The people who turned from God destroyed Israel. The result of this destruction was a world-wide scattering and the land made desolate. For they (the fathers who refused to do vv. 9, 10 and di, vv. 11, 12), laid the pleasant land desolate.
The conspirators will not lay the pleasant land desolate. Therefore all of the exposer of conspiracies which we could do will not prevalent the desolation. Conspiracies are not the problem. The problem is revealed in vv. 9-12.
Hypocrisy will be - and no doubt is being - judged. God used Babylon to judge His people, Israel. Who will He use today?
God's message to those who were inquiring here: Their faithful observances of their religious customs were hypocrisy. These things brought judgment upon their fathers.
Of interest here. God was not against these customs as such. If these customs would be changed from hypocrisy to an honest expression of seeking God, they would be changed into periods of joy and gladness, 8:19.
Certainly, there are conspiracies. What is new about that? The reason they are gaining such wide power is because God's people have turned into white-washed sepulchre full of dead mens bones. If all the conspiracies in the world could be stopped, it would not stop the destruction. Until God's people return to their rightful Lord and King, only desolation lies ahead.
It goes without saying, all of the above was summed up by our Lord in Matt. 5:13-16; 7:24-29. When Christians cease being Christians (followers of Christ and his law-word), we can fully expect corruption to take over. The devils crowd can only take control of what the Lord's crowd withdraws from.