Rejecting Christ Seals Your Doom
The center of Christianity is the person and work of the eternal and incarnated Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. This has become the heartbeat of the prophet Zechariah and his prophetic revelation to us. We can determine whether one is orthodox or not by what they say about Christ; what they believe about Him; and what they say the Scriptures declare of Him. Everything stands or falls upon this testimony. The people of Israel according to chapter 10 would think they would shortly be returning to the land for good. But chapter 11 says it would not happen because of their rejection of the Messiah. Actually the people’s rejection of God’s leadership despite the love and care He had lavished upon them (4-14) as a good shepherd will result in the rising of an evil, uncaring one. He too will ultimately be judged and punished for his abandonment of the flock of God (15-17). This chapter, then, conveys the cause for the delay in Israel’s realizing the blessing promised to them in the previous chapter.
AN EXPECTATION OF JUDGMENT 1-3
Here we have a lamentation portraying impending devastation due to Israel’s rejecting the true Shepherd.
1. This section repeats ‘howl’ or ‘wail’ three times. Here this wailing is associated with destruction of the cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the forests, and the jungles and lush thicket of the Jordan. These places are the sources of strong, powerful, majestic, and magnificent resources used for the construction of palaces, homes and gardens. They thrive with life and nature with many of the most powerful beasts alive calling this home. But it will be only wailing and howling when they are completely devastated—similar to the aftereffects of a tsunami or tornado or hurricane ripping through nature. It should cause you to tremble just considering this expectation.
2. And it does in vs 3. Shepherds will do just that. For the glory of these grand forests and majestic landscapes will be ruined by fire and otherwise. Twice it says ‘ruined’. The shepherds will wail because the pasture is destroyed and even the lions roar over the destruction of the jungle by the Jordan River exposed with no place to hide. These areas will become defaced. The shepherds are the leaders in these areas who will be overrun by the ruin and devastation to come. The outcome will be utter ruin for everyone. Some suggest that this is a prophecy including the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. The land is pillaged by the Romans; fire the means of destruction, the entire area vulnerable to their devastating hand.
LESSON: The constant rejection of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the truth, will bring devastating consequences into your life. One cannot deny the will of God, choose to live instead by one’s own wisdom and ingenuity, and expect to maneuver through life. You can do it but not without anger, fear, and short-sightedness. And in addition to all of that you await your day of reckoning before the Holy God you have spurned and ignored throughout your life. It happened to Israel why not you?
REJECTING CHRIST INVITES ONLY DEVASTATION 4-14
1. God withholds compassion and delivers his people to be destroyed 4-6.
God told Zechariah to ‘pasture the flock marked for slaughter v 4. The ‘flock’ here is Israel, which God has designated for slaughter. So the prophet is playing a role to make a point (like Hosea, Ezekiel). The reason this is necessary is that the flock has been bought and sold by strangers and left unattended or unprotected by their own shepherds—the kings and prophets v 5. Profiting from this the strangers even have the gall to attribute this profiteering to God Himself. The people have not been cared for all throughout her history as great nations squabbled over her in the past on into the future. But even God withdrew His compassion v 6. God had run out of patience and no longer pities them. This judgment consists of wholesale subjugation to neighboring powers while God watches and does nothing to interfere. He causes each man to be found by his neighbor. Their respective captivities and on into the future are viewed here as well.
2. God rejects the wicked Kings and withholds protection of His people 7-11
First, Zechariah pastured this flock but especially the oppressed or afflicted of this flock. This remnant had suffered most at hands of persecutors and unpitied by their own kings. So grievously had Israel sinned against God that only a pitiful little flock was left who kept covenant with Him and this flock itself was victimized by oppressors form within the land and without. This is what they had become reduced too v 7. This may have all that was left in Jesus First Advent. The staffs depict Gods gracious benefits toward them as well as the internal union of Israel and Judah as a nation. They still had that hope.
Second, we do not know who these 3 kings were v 8 but they do represent the spirit of the wicked kings of Israel—possibly the last three who witnessed the gruesome judgment of God in their reign and who had grown weary—literally nauseous—of their God and constantly spurned obedience and compliance and God’s loving advances and mercy and patience. God then became impatient with them and eradicated them possibly referring to many of their untimely demise and deaths. This judgment extends to the people too who accepted this wicked leadership v 9 the survivors who will die, be annihilated, and resort to cannibalism as they did in the siege and fall of Jerusalem (Jer 19:9; Lam 4:10).
Third, God withholds His protection of His people v 10. A covenant God had made with all the nations apparently to protect His own nation is revoked. As a shepherd of a flock destined to destruction God takes protection as a basic responsibility of a shepherd and removes it. Eventually we can read in Romans 11:25 that this results in spiritual blindness and national destruction and dispersion even to this day. It was only a small group who recognized Christ as the Messiah from God. It was the oppressed afflicted remnant that understood behind all of the devastation and destruction was God keeping His Word He proclaimed from the very beginning (Lev 26:14-33; Deut 28:15-68) v 11. Only those with eyes to see and ears to hear could interpret the catastrophic events overthrowing the nation, Jerusalem, and the Temple. And yet even obedient though it they could not escape judgment because of the larger flock who had rejected God and its evil shepherds who had led in the charade!
3. God requires a fee as the Shepherd of the people 12-14
Zechariah, standing in for God, had contrary to the evil shepherds been a good one to the flock of Israel and Judah. He had provided true shepherding, so what did such loving and sacrificial care deserve? The answer was 30 pieces of silver
v 12. God breaks in with an indignant description of this payment v 13 as a pittance and cast the shekels by which the people had valued God to the potter in the house of the Lord possibly to be melted down in the scrap heap and recast in some other form. God sees these shekels like so much refuse because of the insulting attitude they represent. God’s service was worth nothing more than compensation to be paid a slave owner were his slave to be gored to death (Ex 21:32). Matthew reports that Judas was paid 30 shekels of silver to betray Christ and convicted of the wrong he did, returned these to the Temple (Matt 27:5). It was not fit for the temple treasury being ‘blood money’ and it was used to purchase a ‘potters field’, a place not unlike the potter’s scrap heap, as a place for strangers to be buried (Mt 27:7-10). Both signify rejection and disdain for God and then for Christ. With this accomplished Zechariah takes the 2nd staff naked ‘binders’ cutting it in two. This pictures the dissolving of the national solidarity of Judah and Israel. The unbinding of the binders is the rupture of the brotherhood of the 2 kingdoms, which had begun with the deportations and has been a fact for 2000 years and only with the establishment of the nation in our lifetime has that restoration of brotherhood began to take shape v 14.
LESSON: Imagine being guilty of such a cavalier attitude toward God. Especially when one has His revelation, His Spirit, His church, prayer, witness, promises, and testimony. God takes our dismissive attitudes personally. We dismiss God when we refuse to obey His commands. We are cavalier when we try to change what He has said. We are scornful when we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. God may choose to be very patient with us whenever we dismiss Him but that does not mean we are not accountable to Him for this. Choose this day whom you will serve Joshua says. Christ says you cannot serve God and money. Paul says I have no greater ambition than that I do what is pleasing to Him.
THE TRUE SHEPHERD WILL REPLACE A WORTHLESS SHEPHERD 15-17
First, the only hope is for s shepherd who will come with tender love to reunite and restore the nation. That is what it will need. But not until a final sinful rebellion of the nation run its course. Before they can accept the good and true shepherd they must have one last fling with a ruler who will utterly disappoint them. So once more God commands Zechariah to dramatize this message v 15 by taking on the garments of a foolish shepherd. Zechariah does not act out this role since it is yet a future one to take place.
Second, the figure Zechariah represents is the collective leadership of Israel from Zechariah’s time forward culminating at last in the very archetype of godless oppressive power in the Anti-Christ (1 Jn 2:18, 22: 2 Thess 2:3-4). This shepherd will have no concern for the flock. Poor defenseless sheep will be left to their tormentor’s v 16. They will have no oversight form this foolish shepherd tho they seek it from him. These ones ‘perishing’ will have no hope of survival unless they receive proper oversight (Rev 13:7). He will take advantage of the healthy sheep and use their fatness for slaughter for his own appetite. So thorough and cruel his rule that defenseless ones will have their hoofs ripped from them possibly referring to their utter ruin not even to run or escape from His oppression.
Third, God is not going to be oblivious to the shepherd who abuses and exploits His people. God testifies that this shepherd is worthless leaving the flock v 17 as the ancient kings and prophets had done to the people for generations. The Anti-Christ will be judged with a sword wound in his arm and his right eye resulting in both being incapacitated. Without these he will be hindered in collecting more sheep or searching and finding them. This will serve as protection for the people. For all practical purposes he ceases to be a problem for the sheep of God’s pasture.
LESSON: The point is that those who rule over the people of God and who abuse that privilege can expect the awesome judgment of God that results in their replacement by shepherds who more lovingly and faithfully discharge their responsibilities. People can find leaders that reflect their prejudices, their preferences, and their opinions. They may not be led well because they have chosen not to be. Like Israel you can also expect the consequences of this attitude to catch up with you. In the last day it will be for Israel in the person of this Anti-Christ.