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The Book of Zechariah
The 16th prophecy in Zechariah (Zec.11:1-17); (Zec.11:1-14) fulfilled; (Zec. 11:15-17) unfulfilled. Next one, Zec.12:1.
The shepherd is one of the most constant and significant of all of the pictures used in the prophecy of Zechariah. Zechariah is full of picturesque and suggestive symbolism: the four horses, the two olive trees, the woman in the ephah, the measuring line, the priest covered in filth and the flying scroll. These pictures come and go in Zechariah's story, because they are just tools used to illustrate a particular point. The "shepherd" symbol arrives in chapter 10, dominates chapter 11 and then reappears in chapter 13 as part of a very important Messianic prophecy.
A key feature of the "shepherd" in Zechariah is that the symbol is used in several different contexts. This is different from the "lamb" or the "beast" of Revelation or the "little horn" of Daniel. The "shepherd" symbol is not just a label of a leading character; but instead, it is the base that allows different characters to be compared and contrasted, so we must study the actual symbol itself and not simply use it as a label for separate characters.
The Lord Jesus used this picture in John 10:1-16. It is common to think that a symbol can point to just one thing, but that is not so here in Zechariah. The Lord Himself brought out several different features from the way that shepherds interact with their sheep, so it is therefore necessary to consider those features of the shepherd that Scripture emphasizes to see if and how they apply to Zechariah's shepherds.
Another thought is that the Good Shepherd is not just a symbol but is actually a title that the Lord attributed to Himself. Because of this, as we see shadows of the Good Shepherd in the Old Testament, we are not simply seeing a useful picture, but we must see it as a stage in divine revelation to us. I think we will see that the Good Shepherd was, or 'should have been,' an expectation of the Jews, the same as was the expectation of the Messiah Himself . . . because the Messiah AND the Good Shepherd were both fulfilled in the same Person; Jesus of Nazareth. But, the characters can be viewed separately because prophet, priest and king were different Jewish offices, even though they were ALL fulfilled by the same Person.
The emergence of the "Good Shepherd" in prophecy will be considered. The different shepherds of Zechariah should be studied in sequence in some depth and an attempt should be made to 'map' them to their fulfillment in the New Testament.
Zechariah is the prophet of hope. His name actually means 'the Lord remembers.' It is very interesting that his is one of the last voices to speak for God in the Old Testament, and then the New Testament opens with an angel appearing to another man, with the same name "Zechariah," the husband of Elisabeth who gave birth to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. This again, is God remembering His people.
Zechariah is not only the prophet of hope, he is also the prophet of truth. Being a prophet of hope would not be enough, because it could be a false hope such as the false prophets were giving the people. So, he had to be a prophet of Truth too.
Judgment Resulting From Messiah's Rejection Zec.11:1-11
Zechariah 11:1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. (KJV)
Open thy doors, O Lebanon . . . by which may be meant, either the temple of Jerusalem, which was built of the cedars of Lebanon (1 Ki.7:2; Ezra 3:7). Lebanon was a high and great mountain, boundary between Judea and its neighbors on the north, is here spoken to open its gates. Lebanon signifies the temple, because it was built of cedar mainly brought from that place.
That the fire may devour thy cedars . . . of which the temple was built, and the houses of Jerusalem, which were consumed by fire; unless the fortresses of the land are meant. "That the fire" . . . either the rage of the enemy, or the wrath of God.
This sounds bad! This reveals that there is to be a scattering of the people of Israel, very possibly performed by the Romans, who used the same method that Alexander the Great used; they came down from the north.
"That the fire may devour thy cedars." Much of Solomon's temple was built of the cedars of Lebanon, as was his own palace. It seems that Zechariah is giving the description of Rome coming down into Israel.
Zechariah 11:2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. (KJV)
Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen . . . by which are probably meant the princes, nobles and magistrates of the land (Nah.2:3), and too could mean houses and towns built with firs. The biggest and best could not escape, much less anyone else.
Because the mighty are spoiled . . . which explains the symbolic expressions in the former clause, and in the following one, meaning rich men, who at this time would be spoiled (ruined) of their wealth and substance. "Howl" because the mighty men, cities, fortresses and munitions are taken, sacked and ruined; or else held by enemies, which is worse. Any defense and safety to us, is always our greatest worry.
Howl, O ye oaks of Bashan . . . some interpret this as governors of provinces. Men of power and authority are surely intended (Isa.2:13). Bashan was in northern Israel. There were many oaks there. Bashan was a very fruitful and pleasant land (Nah.1:4).
For the forest of the vintage is come down . . . or rather, 'the fortified forest' meaning the city of Jerusalem, which was a fortified place, and like a forest full of trees, for number of inhabitants, but now cut down and destroyed (Isa.10:16-19). "The forest of the vintage" is either all strong places which were for guarding and defending the vineyards; or Jerusalem itself, compared to a forest because of the many, high houses in it. All are called to weep and cry and howl for the miseries that will come upon all sorts, high and low, on them and theirs.
Zechariah 11:3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled. (KJV)
There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds . . . "shepherds" are either of the civil rulers among the Jews, who now lose their honor and their riches; or of the religious rulers, the elders of the people, the Scribes and Pharisees. These are the false shepherds who had been giving the people wrong directions and a false hope and security.
For their glory is spoiled . . . their power and authority, their riches and wealth, their places of honor and profit, their offices, posts and employments, whether in civil or religious matters, are removed from them. All their previous honor and glory is GONE!
A voice of the roaring of young lions . . . probably refers to the young princes, comparing them with "lions" for their power, tyranny and cruelty. Their roaring is as the roaring of young lions. Symbolic references to lions: (Gen.49:9; Num.23:24; 24:9; Deut.33:20; 2 Sam.17:10; Job 4:10; 10:16; Ps.7:2; 17:12; 22:13; 91:13; Pro.19:12; 20:2; 28:1; Isa.38:13; Jer.49:19; 50:44; Dan.7:4; 2 Tim.4:17; 1 Pet.5:8; Rev.5:5; 13:2).
For the pride of Jordan is spoiled . . . Jordan was a place where lions and their young ones resorted (Jer.49:19). Jordan is here put for the whole land of Judea now wasted, with its pride and glory gone; as if the waters of Jordan were dried up, the pride and glory of that, and which it showed when its waters swelled and overflowed.
Swelling of Jordan River, at harvest time: (Josh.3:15; Jer.12:5); Swelling of, in the early spring: (1 Chron.12:15).
Plain of Jordan: (Gen.13:10-12).
The Emerging Good Shepherd
The first reference to God as a shepherd appears in Genesis 49:24. It is not the easiest verse to understand. It describes Joseph and how he was persecuted and states that he remained strong and was made strong by the God of Jacob that is a shepherd and a stone of Israel.
The Psalms expand upon the concept of God as a Shepherd. The most famous is Psalm 23:1, where we learn that God as Shepherd provides for His people; guides them to food and water and can even restore the soul. In Psalm 80:1 God is given the title "Shepherd of Israel" and we learn that He protects His flock, and allows them to feed in His pastures (Ps.100:3), and even feeds them by hand (Ps.95:7).
We also see the opposite side of the story: God is the Shepherd and Israel is the sheep and have the same tendency as sheep to stray (Ps.119:176). In fact this wayward tendency provokes the discipline side of the Shepherd (Ps.71:1) and that He will scatter (Ps.44:11) rather than protect (Ps.49:14) when required.
Isaiah and Jeremiah build upon this foundation in different ways. Isaiah looks forward to a time when the Lord will gather His scattered flock, carry it and guide it (Isa.40:11). He also sees the shepherding of God as happening through under-shepherds such as Cyrus (Isa.44:28) and Moses (Isa.63:11). Jeremiah has a contrasting picture. He enforces again and again that Israel is the flock of God (Jer.13:17,20), yet they are seen as distant from God and being driven by others (Jer.25:34,5). In Jeremiah however, God does state that one day in the future He shall re-gather His flock (Jer.23:3) and set up new shepherds that will feed the flock and not be afraid to protect them (Jer.23:4).
It is really Ezekiel that forms the foundation of the shepherd pictured in Zechariah. Most of Ezekiel's "shepherd" references are in his 34th chapter. The brutal denouncement of Israel's leadership will be tackled in chapter 35. But, Ezekiel expands on the previous narratives and makes some key additions to the existing idea of God as "shepherd." Ezekiel highlights Jeremiah's statement that God shall search out His sheep (Eze.34:11-12) and will place them back in Israel where He will feed them. Ezekiel also stresses that God shall find for them good pasture and give them a secure place to stay where they will find rest (Eze.34:14).
Then in Eze.34:15, God introduces a new idea: that of judgment and force. The Lord will feed His flock and will MAKE them lie down. Eze.34:16 states that He will bind the broken and heal the sick; but the fat and the strong will be destroyed. Eze.34:17 then clearly states that there will be a separating of the individuals of the flock. Israel had been a flock prone to wandering, but God would no longer tolerate it, and too, the erring sheep would be dealt with. Eze.34:18-21 then gives a very graphic illustration of life within Israel. There had been poor shepherding, BUT there was also a large number of brutish and uncontrolled sheep.
It is Ezekiel 34:23 that makes the important next step. The Lord declares that He will set up ONE Shepherd over them that shall feed them and be their shepherd, David. This is repeated and slightly expanded in Ezekiel 37:24-25. The question is: 'Who is David?' Some think it is a resurrected David from Israel's history, while others say it is the Messiah Himself as the 'true' David. Most Bible scholars say it is the Messiah. A good argument is that the shepherd is twice referred to as the one shepherd (Eze.34:23; 37:24; also see Jn.10:16). IF you are going to refer to a shepherd as the 'only one' then it must be the Chief Shepherd Himself (1 Pet.5:4).
Zechariah 11:4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; (KJV)
Thus saith the Lord my God . . . the Lord instructs Zechariah, to assume the role as "shepherd" to the Jews.
Feed the flock of the slaughter . . . meaning the Jews, to whom Christ was sent as a Prophet, to teach and instruct them by the ministry of the Word . . . so "feeding" means bringing the Gospel to people. The Jews are called "the flock of slaughter" because of the cruel and evil way they were treated by their shepherds and owners, mentioned in the next verse, and because they were appointed and given up to the ruin and destruction of God, because of their sins and transgressions. Because they were exposed to the cruelties of men, they "are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Rom.8:36; Ps.44:22). 'Appointed to the slaughter:' the Jews, during four hundred and fifty years, were a flock of slaughter to the Egyptians, Chaldeans and afterwards the Romans.
This section contains a symbolical act. By the command of the Lord, Zechariah assumes the office of a "shepherd" over the flock, and feeds it, until he is compelled by the "flock's" ingratitude to break his shepherd's staff, and give up the flock to destruction. This symbolical act is to be regarded as an internal occurrence of a visionary character and of prophetical importance, through which the faithful care of the Lord for His people is symbolized and exhibited.
Zechariah 11:5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. (KJV)
Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty . . . not the Romans after Christ came, into whose hands they were delivered, and by whom they were slain in great numbers, not accounting it any sin to put them to death . . . BUT meaning the priests, Scribes, Pharisees and doctors among the Jews, who ruined and destroyed their eternal souls, by feeding them poisonous doctrines (2 Pet.2:1); teaching them "the commandments of men" (Mat.15:9), and to observe the traditions of the elders (Gal.1:14); and to seek for life and salvation by the works of the law (Rom.3:28; Gal.2:16; 3:24-25), which was a ministration of condemnation and death to them (2 Cor.3:6-9). Yet they thought they did God and the souls of men good service, because they were spiritually blinded by the devil, like multitudes today! Spiritually blind: (Isa.28:7; 42:18; 56:10; 59:10; Jer.5:21; Lam.4:14; Eze.12:2; Zep.1:17; Mat.6:23; 8:34; 13:13-15; Mk.8:18; Lk.6:39; Acts 28:26-27; Rom.11:25; 1 Cor.2:13-14; 2 Cor.3:14; 4:4; Eph.4:18; 2 Peter 1:9; Rev.3:17).
And they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich . . . (also Zec.11:12). False teachers make merchandise of the souls of men (Rev.18:13). They sell them or their estate for profit; betray them, their liberty, sell them for slaves to foreigners. Israel's own shepherds had NO pity on them. Those who by birth, call and/or office were their shepherds, the governors of this poor people . . . these, the princes, the rulers, the priests, had NO pity on them in their slavery or blood; looked on as unconcerned, and were glad, that they either got a booty, or were rid of an unwanted subject. "I am rich" . . . by selling the sheep (Deut.29:19; Hos.12:8). In short-sighted selfishness they thought they had gained their object, covetous self-enhancement (Lk.16:14), and hypocritically "thanked" God for their wicked gain (Lk.18:11).
The rulers of Judah, who were greedy, ravenous and selfish (Jn.11:48,50) virtually sold their country to Rome. Their greed brought down on Judea God's judgment by Rome. The climax . . . the sale of the innocent Messiah for "thirty pieces of silver." They thought that Jesus thus being sold, that their selfish interest was secured by the delivery of Him to the Romans for crucifixion . . . but it backfired on them! (Acts.4:10-12). It was instead themselves and their country that they sold to the Romans.
And their own shepherds pity them not . . . not even one of their own shepherds pitied them. Those who should have been concerned for the welfare of their souls had NO compassion on them.
Zechariah 11:6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them. (KJV)
For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord . . . or spare them. God's Holy and just wrath came upon them to the uttermost, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. God would show no more pity: their great sins have turned away God's compassions from them, and men show no mercy where God withdraws His. "The inhabitants" the nation as a whole, the body of this sinful people.
But, lo, I will deliver the men everyone into his neighbour's hand . . . this seems to refer to the factions and divisions among themselves during the siege of Jerusalem, when multitudes fell into the hands of the zealots, and perished by them. "I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand" . . . leaving a turbulent, cruel, seditious and bad temper one against another, to make was against each other, to rob, imprison, banish, and/or kill each other.
And into the hand of his king . . . God, in vengeance for their rejection of Messiah, gave them over to internal feuds and Roman rule. The Zealots and other factious Jews expelled and slew one another at the last invasion by Rome. The "king" or the Roman emperor; the Jews having declared, long before this time, that they had "no king but Caesar" (Jn.19:15), and now into his hands they were delivered up. "Into the hand of his king" . . . the Roman Caesar, called here the Jews' king, for that they had chosen him to be so.
And they shall smite the land . . . that is, the Romans shall lay waste the land of Judea. Their king and his armies would destroy the land: it may point to Vespasian and Titus, who sacked Jerusalem, burnt the Temple, captured ninety-seven thousand persons, and slew six hundred thousand at least, although Josephus says it was eleven hundred thousand.
And out of their hand I will not deliver them . . . the Lord had formerly delivered them out of the hands of the Philistines, Ammonites and out of the captivity of Babylon. It means that their destruction would be an utter one. Nor have they been delivered yet, though it has been over 1900 years ago.
Their captivity shall be without remedy or end. Holy Scripture often says, There is no deliverer: (Judg.18:28; 2 Sam.14:6; Job 5:4; Ps.7:3; 50:22; 71:11; Isa.5:29; 42:22; Hos.5:14, Mic.5:7-8). None can deliver out of My hand: (Deut.32:39; Job 10:7; Ps.50:22; 71:11; Isa. 43:13; Dan. 8:4,7). But, God NOWHERE else says absolutely as here, "I will not deliver them." Wow!
Zechariah 11:7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. (KJV)
And I will feed the flock of slaughter . . . Zechariah, pitied the sheep without any true shepherd. "I will feed" according to the call and commission Zechariah had from the "Lord his God" (Zec.11:4), he is determined to do as it was commanded of him, and as he had undertook to do so.
Even you, O poor of the flock . . . the poor (humble, contrite; compare (Zec.11:11; Zep.3:12; Mat.5:3) of the flock. It is for the sake of the believing remnant that Messiah took charge of the flock while on Earth, though He would have saved all, IF they would have come to Him. BUT . . . they would NOT come; so as a nation, they are "the flock of the slaughter" (that is, doomed to die). The Poor: (Lev.19:15; 1 Sam.2:7; Neh.8:10,12; Job.29:11-13,15-16; 30:25; 31:15-22; 34:19; Ps.9:18; 35:10; 37:16; 40:17; 69:29; 70:5; 72:12; 74:21; 82:4; 86:1; 109:16,22; Pro.10:15; 13:7-8,23; 14:2-21,31; 18:23; 19:1,4,7,17,22; 20:13; 21:13; 22:2; 23:21; 28:6,8,19; 29:14; Ecc.4:6,13; 6:8; 9:15-16; Jer.22:16; Eze.16:49; 22:29; Mat.25:42,45; 26:11; Mk.12:43-44; 14:7; Lk.6:20,30-35; 16:20-21; Jn.12:6; Jam.1:9-10).
And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands . . . "stave" = rod, staff. Remember this is Zechariah acting as a "shepherd" . . . a 'type' of Christ. As a shepherd, he takes two staffs: #1. "Beauty" which is grace; and #2. "Bands" which is union or unity. These represent God's grace to His people, and His desire to unite Judah and Israel, which had been separated long ago. God said He would separate them (1 Ki.11:9-13); and He did (1 Ki.12:15-20). God's judgments fall because of SIN! But His grace is always there should a person repent (1 Jn.1:9; Eph.1:6-7).
There are many ways to look at the two "staves" . . . some say that they are the twofold way of Christ's governing His people, one by lenity and one by severity. Others say it is His care and diligence in His office; when other shepherds are content with one, Christ takes both. Some say Christ would be provided with one to guide the flock, and with another to repel those who would slaughter them, to protect against violence and to direct those who are meek. Christ has His "golden sceptre" (Est.5:2; 8:4) for His loyal and obedient subjects, and His "rod of iron" (Ps.2:9; Rev.2:27; 12:5) for rebels and violent enemies. The one called "Beauty" is pleasantness, sweetness and loveliness; this being the holiness of His precepts, the excellency of His comforts, the glory of His reward (Ps.27:4; Pro.3:17). The other called "Bands;" either refers to the lines wherewith the portion of the Holy Land was measured out to every one according to their lot; or refers to the obligations Christ lays on men to hold together in peace and unity.
I think I will go with: they represent God's grace to His people, and His desire to unite Judah and Israel, which have been separated for so long. The beauty of grace and glory, the bands uniting in love and peace.
And I fed the flock . . . with these "staves" in hand, the shepherd proceeds to feed and rule this flock.
Two characteristics of David’s Kingdom, union among the north and south, and God’s favor, were both broken. There seems to be a relationship between the inward characteristic of being in God’s favor and the visible, outward sign of union. Favor in the sense of being pleasant in God’s eyes, was already missing. Since this was the case, division between Israel and Judah was not only prophesied by God, it was directed by Him (1 Ki.11:29-33; 12:22-24).
Question: In Zec.11:7, do these two "staves" relate to the two sticks in Eze.37:15-23?
Answer: No. Ezekiel tells us the two sticks in Ezekiel 37 represent Israel and Judah. Zechariah tells us the two sticks in Zechariah are 'grace' and 'union.'
Every time the word stick is used in the Bible, it does not always symbolize the same thing. There is a "staff of reed" in Eze.29:6, which plainly states it is Egypt. Just as the symbol of the reed of Egypt, in a different chapter of the Bible has bearing on the two sticks, the symbol of the two sticks has no bearing on the two "staves" in Zec.11:7.
Zechariah 11:8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. (KJV)
Three shepherds also I cut off in one month . . . this seems most likely to be the three orders of magistrates among the Jews: princes, prophets and priests . . . "shepherds" are leaders, so to me this makes sense. The princes, prophets and priests have been negligent or greatly at fault in their duty of leadership. So Zechariah states that he shall "cut off" or put the three of them out of office "in one month," meaning a short time. One day: (Isa.10:17; Zec.3:9; Rev.18:8).
These three were not Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, as suggested by some; nor David, Adonijah and Joab, who all died in one month; nor the three kings, Jehoash, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, who died by the hand of their enemies in a short time; nor the three last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, nor the three Maccabees: Judas, Jonathan, and Simon. Some say that the "three shepherds" are the sects of the Jews: the Pharisees, Sadducee, and Essenes. Of the Essenes, some say "Herodians" and others say "Scribes."
My soul loathed them . . . God and Zechariah as the Lord's "shepherd" hated their treachery and idleness, because they did not perform the duties of their office: the civil magistrate (prince) did not govern according to the laws of God; the prophets did not teach sound doctrine; and the priests did not do their job right, nor direct the people to the Messiah.
And their soul also abhorred me . . . disgraced and "cut off' (cast out), they hated God. These "three shepherds" had many Jews that took their side, and that bore a hatred to the TRUE Shepherd (the Messiah) and to His executing severity on the wicked shepherds. All ranks of the Jews hated Christ; hated His Person, His Name, His miracles, His doctrines, His ordinances, and His people. This was proven by them by their contemptuous rejection of Him as the Messiah; by their crucifixion of Him; and by persecuting His disciples and followers. Bad leaders: (1 Sam.2:12,21; Isa.28:7; 29:10-12; 56:10-12; Jer.2:8,26; 5:31; 7:8; 8:8-12; 10:21; 12:10; 18:18; 23:1-2,9-15; Hos.4:6; Mal.2:6-9; Mat.16:26; Lk.11:52; Jn.16:3).
God here also rebukes the leaders of the people as shepherds. Jeremiah 25:34-38 Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. 35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. 36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture. 37 And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD. 38 He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger. (KJV)
Zechariah 11:9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. (KJV)
Then said I, I will not feed you . . . after Zechariah's patient and attentive feeding the flock, and after his "cutting off" the three unfaithful shepherds, he deserved love and kindness, but all he got was contempt and hatred by the people, as well as by the shepherds. This so looked forward to the time they rejected Christ, the true Shepherd. "I will not feed you" . . . now he rejects them, he will not take care of them, or provide for them, and one day the Messiah too will not feed them!
That that dieth, let it die . . . spiritually, they that are dead in sin, let them continue so (Rev.22:11); let them die through famine of the Holy Word of God which they have so despised and resented; let them die in their sins (Jn.8:24), and die the second death (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8), which they justly deserve. Anyone who rejects God's One and Only Plan of salvation, JESUS (Jn.3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Jn.5:10-12), "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." NOT my words, God's Words!
And that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off . . . repeated, to confirm and affect them more deeply, or possibly it intends to leave them naked and unguarded to their enemy, to cut them off by the sword or famine. Spiritually, some were in righteous judgment appointed to ruin, vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Let them be left to themselves, to a spiritual blindness, and hardness of heart, and be cut off as unfruitful branches, and be no more God's people, and hereafter cast into everlasting fire. God is "not willing that any should perish" (2 Pet.3:9), BUT after a person rejects the Lord Jesus time and time again, being prompted again and again by the Holy Spirit, they are left alone in their sin "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man" (Gen.6:3).
And let the rest eat everyone the flesh of another . . . possibly through famine ; or destroy each other in their internal divisions, which was the case when Jerusalem was besieged (Gal.5:15). Cannibalism: (Lev.26:29; Deut.28:53-57; 2 Ki.6:28-29; Jer.19:9; Lam.2:20; 4:10; Eze.5:10).
Zechariah 11:10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. (KJV)
And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder . . . "Beauty" is the grace of God: in His covenant and all of its blessings, in His Presence with them, in His love to them, in His watch care and protection over them, and in His abundant blessings upon them. "Beauty" (grace) CANNOT be made void. It can and will have its intended effect. It will endure. Its blessings, promises, doctrines, ordinances and ministers shall continue, until ALL the "elect" are gathered in, even unto the Second Coming of Christ. BUT . . . the grace of God may be removed from one place to another! It may be taken from one people, and given to another, because the first group looked on it with contempt, were unfruitful under it, and indifferent to it. And this was the case . . . the Gospel was taken away from the Jews, who despised it, and carried into the Gentile world (Mat.13:1; 21:43). Election of Grace: (Ex.6:7; Deut.4:37; 7:6; Mat.25:34; Jn.15:16; 17:6; Gal.4:30; Eph.1:4;2:10; 2 Thes.2:13; 1 Pet.1:2).
The Elect: (Deut.7:7; Ps.4:3; Isa.65:9; Mat.24:22,31; Mk.13:20,22,27; Lk.18:7; Rom.8:33; 9:11; 11:5,28; 1 Thes.1:4; 2 Tim.2:10; Tit. 1:1; 1 Per.1:2; 5:13).
The Jews had rejected God and His grace, they had refused His covenant. To "cut it asunder" signifies that He dropped His pastoral care of them.
That I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people . . . "all the people," NOT just the poor and the meek, the little remnant. Although the nation of Israel as a whole have rejected and cast off the Messiah, neither God the Father or Christ Jesus the Messiah have forever cast away His people whom He foreknew. God, for now, has just turned away from the Jews. God will NOT cast away forever His people: (1 Sam.12:22; Ps.77:7; 89:31-37; 94:14; Jer.31:36-37; Amos 9:9; Rom.11:1-2).
God has NEVER broken His Word. BUT, when God makes a Promise conditioned on the behavior of the people, and the people do NOT meet the condition, a time shall come when God says the conditional Promise will NOT be fulfilled. One of the more famous conditional promises, which was not always fulfilled: 2 Chron.7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)
Conditional Promises or Blessings: (Lev.26:14,18,21,27; Deut.7:12,17-19; 11:13; Jer.17:24,27; Eze.20:39).
We have a great example of a 'conditional' Promise in the New Testament. John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (KJV) . . . Many in today's world take this out of context. I refer to the 'word-faith' people and their 'name it and claim it' heresies. WHY do I say this? Consider the very next verse! John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. (KJV) . . . A conditional Promise means there is something that WE must do in order for God to keep His side of that Promise! Obedience to Christ Jesus is evidence of our love for Him, and this Promise is given to those who love Him and obey His commandments! (Mat.22:36-40).
Zechariah 11:11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. (KJV)
And it was broken in that day . . . the covenant was broken by the Jews' stubborn refusal of it, and also the rejection of the Mediator of it. "In that day" . . . it was not done in just one day, because the unthankful, unbelieving Jews have been many generations breaking it. "That day:" "Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas" (Lk.23:18). "We have no king but Caesar" (Jn.19:15). "Crucify, crucify Him" (Lk.23:21; Jn.19:6).
And so the poor of the flock . . . (Zec.11:7). There was a "remnant," there always is! The poor and the meek of the flock knew Christ was the Messiah, believed in Him, and obeyed Him, observed His doctrine, miracles and life (Acts 2:41). These understood what this prophet had written four hundred and ninety years before. All the rest were blinded. The Poor: (Lev.19:15; 1 Sam.2:7; Neh.8:10,12; Job.29:11-13,15-16; 30:25; 31:15-22; 34:19; Ps.9:18; 35:10; 37:16; 40:17; 69:29; 70:5; 72:12; 74:21; 82:4; 86:1; 109:16,22; Pro.10:15; 13:7-8,23; 14:2-21,31; 18:23; 19:1,4,7,17,22; 20:13; 21:13; 22:2; 23:21; 28:6,8,19; 29:14; Ecc.4:6,13; 6:8; 9:15-16; Jer.22:16; Eze.16:49; 22:29; Mat.25:42,45; 26:11; Mk.12:43-44; 14:7; Lk.6:20,30-35; 16:20-21; Jn.12:6; Jam.1:9-10).
That waited upon me . .. as servants on their masters; as beggars at His door; as attending the worship of God, eagerly awaiting the manifestations of Himself, for answers of prayer, and looking to the fulfillment of Promises. "So the poor of the flock that waited upon me" refers to those of the remnant who actually obeyed God and believed His Word.
Knew that it was the word of the Lord . . . either that Christ the Shepherd was the Word of the Lord (Jn.1:1); or that the prophecies concerning the destruction of the Jews, their civil and ecclesiastical state, were the word and decree of God now fulfilled; or that the Gospel taken from them is the Word of the Lord, of which He is the Author.
It is absolutely necessary for us as TRUE believers to believe the Word of God. If you do NOT believe that the Bible is the Word of God, you cannot grow in the Christian life. Belief in the Word of God is an absolute MUST! And God the Holy Spirit will establish you in that belief as you study the Word. Zechariah is saying that "the poor of the flock," the remnant of the remnant, believed it was the Word of the Lord. Do YOU believe it?
The Good Shepherd, Christ . . . Zec.11:12-14
There would be coming in their line One who would be their Messiah, and the majority of the nation would reject Him. Only a very small remnant would receive Him at that time. For their rejection, the nation would be judged and scattered throughout the world.
Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. (KJV)
And I said unto them . . . the rulers of the Jews, the high priest, chief priests, and Pharisees.
If ye think good, give me my price . . . what was Jesus worth to Judas the betrayer? "My price" . . . reward for His pastoral care, both during the whole of Israel's history from the Exodus, and especially the 3 1/2 years of Messiah's ministry. He speaks as their "Servant," which He was to them in order to fulfil the Father's will (Zec.3:8; Jn.13:3-14; Phil.2:7).
And if not, forbear . . . unless all is done freely, willingly and cheerfully (Eze.2:5) or, if worth nothing, give nothing. They withheld that which Christ so wanted as His only reward, their love! BUT, He will not force them (or us), but leave it in the Hands of God (Isa.49:4-5). Also see how Jacob was cheated of his wages by Laban, but left it in the Hands of God (Gen.31:41-42).
So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver . . . they not only refused Him His due, but added insult to injury by giving for Him the price of slave injured by an ox (Ex 21:32; Mt 26:15).
Zechariah prophesied the 'sale of the Messiah' by apostate Israel for 30 pieces of silver. This was fulfilled by Judas and the leaders of Israel (Mat.26:14-16; 27:3-10).
This is a remarkable prophecy that has been literally fulfilled to the letter. Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. (KJV) . . . That is the exact "price" that Zechariah mentions. It seems possible that Judas had trouble agreeing on the price . . . "So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver."
Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. (KJV) . . . There is no such text in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, which is recorded. The nearest place in the Books of the Prophets to this text is Zec.11:12-13.
Jeremiah did buy a field by an order from God. Jer.32:9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. (KJV) . . . "Seventeen shekels of silver," a shekel was only about fifty cents, so the total would be under $10.00. At the darkest hour in Judah's history, Jeremiah buys real estate. WHY did Jeremiah buy this land at this time? It was to show the Jews that he believed God when He said that they were going to return to the land. Israel would return: (Jer.12:14; 16:15; 23:3,8; 24:6; 27:22; 29:10; 30:3,18; 31:8,16; 32:37,44; 33:7,11,26; 40:12; 42:13; 46:27; 50:19).
Zechariah 11:13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (KJV)
And the Lord said unto me . . . to Zechariah.
Cast it unto the potter . . . for the purchase of the field, to make a burying place for strangers. God the Father's Words, so loathing the vile disrespect and under rated value of His Son (Jn.3:16-18,36; 1 Jn.5:10-12). "Cast it unto the potter" as being so little it would hardly purchase any thing except what was cheapest among them, a little earthenware. . . . Or possibly, cast 'them' into the house of the Lord for the potter, all those Jewish rulers who were guilty of prosecuting God's Son unto death. Potters: (Isa.64:8; Jer.18:1-4; Rom.9:21; Rev.2:27)
A goodly price that I was prized at of them . . . this is said sarcastically, meaning that it was a very poor price, revealing that they had absolutely NO idea of the worth and value of Christ, the "Pearl of great price" (Mat.13:46). God rebukes the shepherds of His people, who prized the Great Shepherd no higher than a slave gored by an ox (Ex.21:32).
And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord . . . it is a question with some what these pieces of silver were. They are commonly understood as silver shekels (Gen.20:16; Eze.45:12). "I took" . . . Zechariah, who is still playing his part as commanded, now symbolically does what Judas will with horror do when he realizes he has sold and betrayed the completely innocent Lord Jesus (Mat.27:3-10).
Judas came into the temple and threw the money down there. Matthew 27:6-7 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. (KJV)
Zechariah said, "And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." Do you think this was an accident? NO way! This is a most remarkable Passage of Scripture!
What is the "potter's field"? The potter's field was property belonging to the potter. When he had clay on his wheel, attempting to make a pot, a vessel, or vase, but it did not end in the result that he wanted, he would take it off the wheel and throw it into the field. When clay was not the right texture to be molded, it was discarded into the field.
In Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer.18:1-10), God compares Himself to the potter. God puts the clay (mankind), on the potter's wheel and attempts to fashion it into the vessel He has in mind. But the clay must yield to Him or it is discarded. Any clay that will not yield to Him is thrown out into the potter's field as useless.
It is interesting that when the priests took the "thirty pieces of silver," . . . they were very 'pious' about NOT using the "price of blood" (Mat.27:6) for religious purposes! They bought the potter's field as a burial place for the poor.
My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Great Potter! He purchased it, but NOT for "thirty pieces of silver." He did pay a BIG price, a "goodly price" (Zec.11:13) for it. He paid more than any amount of silver or gold! He paid with His life! His own "precious Blood" (1 Pet.1:18-19). The Great Potter takes the clay that was thrown away, and shapes it into a vessel of honor. We are the clay. He is the Potter (Rom.9:21-24).
Zechariah 11:14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. (KJV)
Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands . . . the breaking of the 'bond' of union between Judah and Israel's ten tribes under Rehoboam is here the symbol used to represent the discord of divisions which raged within Jerusalem right before it fell, and too, the continued severance of the tribes until their coming reunion (Isa.57:18-19; Jer.3:22; 30:17; Hos.6:1-3; 14:4-7; Mic.7:18-19).
No further care was taken to keep them in civil peace among themselves, but left them to their seditious and inhuman animosities. Belief and faith in Almighty God is the best bond of peace, friendship, and love . . . but when the Jews refused to believe God (1 Jn.5:10-12), and rejected and murdered their Messiah, the next step to their fall was to murder one another.
Israel back in her Land, as God had prophesied so many times: (Ps.107:3; 147:2; Isa.11:11; 35:5-10; 43:5; 56:7-8; Jer.16:15; 23:3; 31:8; 32:37; Eze. 20:34; 20:38; 28:25; 34:13; 36:24; 36:35; 37:14; 37:21; 39:27; Amos 9:14; Mic. 2:12; Zep. 3:20; Zec. 8:8).
Brought home to dwell in safety: (Lev.26:12; Jer.3:17-18; 4:2; 23:8; 30:22; 31:1,33; 32:38-41; Eze.11:20; 36:28; 37:25,27; Hos.2:19-23; Joel 3:20; Amos 9:14-15; Ob.1:17-21; Zep.3:14-20; Zec.13:9; 2 Cor.6:16-18; Rev.21:3,7).
Israel would return: (Jer.12:14; 16:15; 23:3,8; 24:6; 27:22; 29:10; 30:3,18; 31:8,16; 32:37,44; 33:7,11,26; 40:12; 42:13; 46:27; 50:19).
That I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel . . . that I might declare it broken, leaving them to show that it was broken. "The brotherhood" . . . is friendship which had been among them. Between Judah (the two tribes), and Israel (the remnant of the ten tribes), which fell into awful seditions after the death of Christ, till the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. Because of the shameful payment for the Lord's service, Zechariah, the shepherd of the Lord breaks his second staff, as a sign that he will no longer feed the ungrateful nation of Israel, and but leave it to its fate. The breaking of this staff is interpreted, in accordance with its name, "Bands," as breaking or destroying the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. The breaking up of the nation into parties manifested itself, in a terrible manner soon after the rejection of Christ, and hastened its ruin in the Roman war.
For more on the destruction of Jerusalem:
Zechariah 11:15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. (KJV)
And the Lord said unto me . . . to Zechariah.
Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. . . "take again," in Zec.11:7, he had taken other instruments, meaning the shepherd's crook and staff. Zechariah was now told to take the instruments and put on the clothing and impersonate (portray) once more a shepherd, quite different from the last one he represented. "Of a foolish shepherd" . . . because this foolish people has rejected the wisest and best Shepherd; the Lord wanted them to see which one they will eventually choose, the FALSE Messiah (Mat.24:5,23-26). John 5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (KJV) . . . And that is what Israel will do.
Since the Jews rejected their Messiah, "the Good Shepherd" (Jn.10:11), they were given up to Rome, heathen and papal, both their persecutor, especially the pope. They shall again, be given up, this time to the Antichrist, the "man of sin" (2 Thes.2:3), who would be the instrument of judgment by Christ's permission. Antichrist will first make a covenant with Israel as their ruler, but then will break it, mid-way in the covenant (Dan.9:27). They shall feel the heavy iron yoke of Antichrist's tyranny as the false Messiah, because they rejected the light yoke of the TRUE Messiah (Dan.11:35-38; 12:1,11; Mat.24:15-21; 2 Thes.2:3-12; Rev.13). But in the end, the Antichrist shall be stopped completely (Zec.11:17; Rev.19:20), and the elect remnant of Judah and Israel shall be gloriously saved.
Because they received not the Spirit of truth, the all righteous Judge shall send them a spirit of "strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thes.2:10-11). The Antichrist is called a "foolish shepherd," because the most extreme folly consists in the most extreme wickedness, so he will be the most foolish to reach the highest impiety possible. This he will do by an unwarranted and/or presumptuous claim, assuming and appropriating himself without any right whatsoever! Antichrist foolisly arrogates himself to be god, and claims divine honors (2 Thes.2:4). Antichrist: (Isa.14:13-14; Eze.28:2,6,9; Dan.7:8,25; 8:9-11; 11:36; Rev.13:6-7)
Zechariah 11:16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. (KJV)
For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land . . . a "foolish shepherd" as a just punishment of their sin in refusing Christ, the wise and good Shepherd, and refusing His Words that could lead to their salvation. Their foolish choice would lead to their utter ruin.
Which shall not visit those that be cut off . . . the "foolish shepherd" does NOT seek out those that are lost to bring them home; ones that go astray, wander from the fold, and are in danger of being lost, that are perishing. These he does not look after, nor does has he have any regard for their spiritual and eternal welfare. (Mat.18:12-14; Lk.19:10; Jn.10:10-13).
Neither shall seek the young one . . . the foolish shepherd does NOT seek out the "little ones" (Isa.40:11; Mat.18:10,14), which are most likely to perish through weakness. Only the Lamb of God, the TRUE Shepherd of the flock, seeks the "young one," that He will carry the lambs in His Arms (Isa.40:11), and seek strays from the fold, which the "foolish shepherd" would never do.
Nor heal that that is broken . . . meaning those who are of a broken and contrite spirit; or whose bones are broken, and consciences wounded because of sin: but leaves it to die of its wounds. Unfaithful shepherds of Israel: (Zec.11:9; Eze.34:2-4).
Nor feed that that standeth still . . . those who cannot move from their place to get fresh pasture, but must stay where they are, for they need help; they are either not able to go forward, or are hungry, but the "foolish shepherd" will not have compassion on them.
But he shall eat the flesh of the fat . . . the "foolish shepherd" will instead feast on the fattest of the flock, spoiling the substance of the rich (Rev.18:3).
And tear their claws in pieces . . . the "foolish shepherd" shall take all their power and privileges away from them; all which agrees with the power of the pope of Rome (Rev.13 & 17 & 18). A greedy, riotous, oppressive and cruel government, pursued by a foolish shepherd, with cruelty forcefully extracting all from them, is the punishment of the sins of the Jews.
Zechariah 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. (KJV)
Woe to the idol shepherd . . . "idol" = good for nothing, vain, vanity, no value, thing of naught. Just images of shepherds, but are worthless and useless. Woe to idol shepherds: (Isa.9:15-16; Jer.23:32; Eze.13:3; 34:2; Mat.23:13,16; Lk.11:42-52; Jn.10:12-13)
That leaveth the flock . . . have no regard for its spiritual concerns; does not feed it, but instead fleeces it, leaving it to the cruelty and greed of the 'beasts' under him: "That leaveth" . . . casts off the care of the flock. False shepherds: (Isa.3:12; 9:16; 56:10-12; Jer.10:21; 22:22; 23:1,34; 50:6; Eze.34:2-3,10; Zec.10:3; 11:5,15,17; Jn.10:1,5,12; Tit.1:11).
The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye . . . the "sword" is that with which he should 'feed' the flock. The sword, of the enemy, shall be upon his arm, to break his strength, and upon his right eye; blind and confuse his counsels. His "arm" may mean his secular power, which shall be taken away from him: and his "right eye" his knowledge of the Scriptures, judgment in controversies, and infallibility pretended to by him, which will STOP, even in the opinion of men. Some interprets it the eye of his heart or mind. Sword: (Deut.32:41; Ps.17:13; 57:4; Pro.25:18; Hos.11:6; Zec.13:7).
His arm shall be clean dried up . . . his power shall be taken away from him; the heathen kings, which supported him, shall be withdrawn from him. The ten kings shall hate the whore, strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire (Rev.17:16).
And his right eye shall be utterly darkened . . . not only given up to judicial blindness, which has been always his case; but his kingdom shall be full of darkness (Rev.16:10). Antichrist's hidden things of darkness shall be exposed; all his crafty schemes will be confounded; and all his cleverness, cunning, deception and subtlety will cease; and everything desirable to him shall be taken away from him.
No true shepherd, that is good for nothing, and who is an idol himself, sits in the Temple of God, and is worshipped as if he were God (2 Thes.2:4), would ever encourage and defend idolatry! I believe the "foolish shepherd" or worthless shepherd that Zechariah speaks of is the coming Antichrist. The foolish and false shepherd, the Antichrist, will be the one who brings in the Great Tribulation in all its fury (Dan.9:36; Mat.24:21; Rev.chapters 6-18). In the first part of the Tribulation, Israel will be deceived into thinking that Antichrist IS their Good Shepherd (Jn.5:43), but by the time they discover the truth, he will have become the evil world dictator, and the armies of the world, under him will come against Jerusalem (Rev.16:12-16; 19:11-21).
Book of Zachariah
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