TALE OF THREE SHEPHERDS
So we have been going through devotions for the past several months together and as I was praying I felt the LORD leading me to start formatting the posts to be more about breaking down the passages and providing some application points. We have about two weeks left in the year, let us finish strong in the LORD and be grounded in His word.
Zechariah eleven seems to be a world of a difference from chapter ten as ten talks about restoration while eleven is about destruction. Chapter ten is the hope of the grace of God that restores His people but ten is the picture of people who reject that hope. When we see the judgment of God come about, we may ask why God’s grace ran out but that is the wrong question to ask! A better question to ask is, “why didn’t they take His grace?” Today’s passage is taken in the form of three types of leaders or shepherds and the impact they have on a community.
Shepherd 1: The wailing shepherds [1-3]
“Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars! 2 Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled! 3 The sound of the wail of the shepherds, for their glory is ruined, the sound of the roar of the lions, for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined!”
Zechariah uses metaphors here to describe the destruction that is going happen to the people due to their own sin that they chose. In the first verse you see the word “Lebanon” which is a metaphor for the royal house because the king’s palace is built with trees that came from there so the people called it Lebanon. Verse two states that the cedar has fallen, which is a reference to the king. Overall what is going on here is that God is bringing judgement upon the whole land including the people of God for their choice of living apart from Him in sin. The shepherds here are wailing because they see how their sin and the sin of the people have brought down the glory that they were built with when God was their ruler.
This is the picture of what sin can and has done in the lives of God’s people. When we are in God we can choose to fight our sin but are not sin immune yet! Sin still has the ability to tempt us but not the power to overpower us for God in us gives us the ability to actually fight against or run away from it.
Shepherd 2: The good shepherd [4-14]
4 Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. 5 Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”
God calls Zechariah to be a shepherd to the people yet Zechariah is called to lead a people that will only reject him. Why does God do that? Sometimes when we serve God, we measure our success in serving him by the results we get. This is true to a certain extent but what about in cases like this where God sends us to a place where we will not get any success? Clearly Zechariah was not successful because the people did not turn away! This is hard to swallow but I believe that in moments where we are found in these situations that the measure of our success is found in how much we trust and obey God despite the outcome. I believe Zechariah was successful because he was obedient to the end and there are many people in the history of the church that didn’t get to see the fruit of their labors but were simply planters of seeds. There are planters and there are those who reap or pluck the fruit but both serve the Lord.
7 So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. 8 In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9 So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” 10 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples.11 So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord.
Zechariah represents the good shepherd, which later Jesus will embody as the ultimate Good Shepherd. But Zechariah is going to do two physical acts that will represent what is going on in the spiritual realm. As Zechariah was dealing with the people and the false shepherd, there is conflict that develops between them. The people did not listen to Zechariah, which led to the point where Zechariah broke ties with the people by breaking the staff named “favor.” It says that the sheep traders knew at that point that they messed up because that symbolic act awakened them to the reality of what their actions have brought! The sheep traders were the former leaders of Israel that due to their lack of leadership and connection with God have “traded” the sheep (the people) away to sin and destruction which ultimately led to slavery to the foreign nations that conquered them.
It is easy to forget that the grace of God in our lives takes the form of Godly leadership. When God places leaders, mentors, parents, and or pastors in your life that love the LORD above all else; that is the grace of God in your life. Growing up I have not appreciated the bible study teachers who invested in me when I was young and foolish but they were placed in my life to plant the seeds of the gospel so that I may one day know the LORD. I am grateful for them looking back but wish that I was grateful for them when I was with them! Too many times we show our appreciation for people when they are gone and not when they are present but as it is today, learn how to not only appreciate the leaders in our lives but the people in our lives for even though the community is not perfect, it is a blessing.
12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. 14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
This is the final rejection of the good shepherd. Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave that has been stabbed through by an animal, which in essence was a useless slave. When they paid Zechariah with this sum, they were sending a message to the man of God that he was just as useful as a broken slave! SMH!!! Their view of Zechariah was poor because Zechariah was a messenger of God that exposed to them the sinful actions of their lives. When people are exposed of doing wrong, they will either blame, run, attack, or own up. Majority of the cases, people don’t choose the last option and in this case we see that the Israelites have chosen option three. Because they are trying to justify their sin, they chose to sell off whatever connection they have with God to keep it. How many of us are doing the same thing today, that when exposed to sin we choose the sin rather than the savior? It is interesting to note that Judas also sold Jesus and His relationship with Him with thirty pieces of silver. Let that brew for a bit.
Shepherd 3: The bad shepherd [15-17]
15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. 17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!”
Sometimes God’s judgement on people is allowing terrible or foolish leaders take over so that the people will be led down a path that they have chosen. As stated before, to have good leaders or mentors placed in your life is actually a blessing in your life! Even the leaders in my life both past and present are people that I wish to honor and respect as they were people that helped me become the person that I am today!
In what ways can you appreciate the graces of God in your life?
In what ways can you start seeing that parents, mentors, leaders, friends, etc are the grace of God in your life?