Okay! Let’s close in prayer, no, alright! So we’re in the book of Zechariah, if you could open up to chapter 11 and here is the structure of the book that those questions were coming from.
So the book has four parts: There’s the introductory call to repentance and Ann, you actually had it right, it’s chapter 1, verses 1 through 6 (Zech 1:1-6). I think I said no verse 7. So, I stand corrected. Number two is the eight night visions that starts in chapter 1, verse 7 through the end of chapter 6.
By the way, does anybody remember how the night visions end? With the coronation of who? Joshua the high priest and that of course, typifies the millennial reign of Jesus, because you don’t crown a priest, right? Priests are priests, kings are kings and so the fact that Joshua the high priest is crowned at the end of those night visions, shows you where all of the visions are pointing to. I mean, all of these point ultimately to the establishment of the millennial kingdom on the earth. Although the content of these visions is trying to encourage them to get busy rebuilding temple number two and then, the third part of the book is where they basically ask the question about mourning and fasting. Should we keep mourning and fasting the destruction of the temple one, seventy years earlier, now that temple two is being rebuilt? That’s the question and God answers basically by condemning them for empty ritualism.
III. Questions & Answers Concerning Fasting (Zech, 7‒8)
What He says to them is you should have, instead of mourning the destruction of temple one, you really should be mourning for the reasons why temple one was destroyed, which was God’s disciplinary action because they rejected God’s law. So all that is in chapter 7 and 8 and then you get to the last section of the book which is the two burdens.
Here’s a good question, burden number one deals with the first coming or second coming of Christ? Primarily. It’s primarily dealing with the first coming and it’s kind of providential that we’re studying this tonight because we’re in Passion Week, right? Leading up to resurrection Sunday and a lot of the things Zechariah predicted in that section, we celebrate this week. So the first burden is really about all of the things God wanted to do for Israel but they were postponed, because Israel rejected her king and in our chapter tonight, I don’t know if we’re going to get there but actually down in verses 12 and 13 you’ll see predicted five hundred years in advance the number the number of silver pieces that they would sell out Jesus for. How many pieces of silver? Thirty. So that, when Judas was paid that price, that was the fulfillment of a prophecy written five hundred years in advance and then of course, burden number two, which we haven’t started yet chapters 12 to 14 is about the fact that God is going to do all of these things for Israel bring in the kingdom, etc., when they embrace her king. So the first burden is really about Israel’s failure in the first advent of Christ and the second burden is about Israel’s acceptance of Christ in His second advent, because Israel is always the nation that gets it right the second time. They never get it right the first time. When Stephen gave his speech in Acts, 7, that got him stoned to death, that’s basically what he said in that speech and so you see this playing out in these two burdens. 4:48
So the first burden we have the divine warrior hymn.
These are all the things that God was going to do in and through Israel but she tripped right over her Messiah, verses 9 and 10, because He came in humility on a donkey. That by the way is Palm Sunday, which was celebrated in Christianity last Sunday and so, all of these blessings are now on hold for the nation and then chapter 10, which we finished last time is about the true shepherd, just continuing to describe all of the blessings God was going to do for the nation, had they enthroned her King in the first coming, but all of those wonderful promises are now on hold and so Israel has a tendency to reject or will, in Isaiah’s prophecies, will reject her true shepherd, first season and the nation instead will embrace a false shepherd. So the false shepherd that they’re going to embrace is described in chapter 11, which is the chapter we’re starting this evening. So you can take chapter 11 and divide it into three parts.
False Shepherd (Zech 11:1-17)
First of all, the land is personified as wailing. You know, personifying the sadness in the nation and then verses 4 through 14 (Zech 11:4-14) is the reasons for the sadness; and it has to do with Israel’s rejection of her king and that’s where you get the prediction about the silver that Judas would sell Israel out for and verses 15 through 17 (Zech 11:15-17) is the coming false shepherd that the nation will embrace instead of Jesus and that’s where you get a wonderful, well, maybe wonderful is not the best choice of words but one of the most specific descriptions of the coming antichrist anywhere in the Bible, right there in verses 15 through 17. So God says, okay! You don’t want the true shepherd, then go ahead and have the false shepherd and so they’re going to embrace this false shepherd but the false shepherd is going to be destroyed by Jesus at His second advent. 7:31
So that’s the big picture of chapter 11 and let’s start here with part one: The wailing or the moaning of the land.
The Wailing Land (Zech 11:1-3)
First the cedars of Lebanon are portrayed as moaning. It says there in verse 1 (Zech 11:1):Open your doors, O Lebanon, That a fire may feed on your cedars… There’s a cross reference in Jeremiah 22:23 which says: You who live in Lebanon, Nested in the cedars, How you will groan when sharp pains come on you, Pain like a woman in childbirth!… So just like birth pains and every mother in this room understands the reality of that. Can I get an Amen? At least from half the congregation? Israel is going to experience the sharp pains and that’s what the personification of the cedars, these giant trees of Lebanon, you know, the strength of Israel mourning and then the cypress and oaks of Bashan will mourn also and you see that in verse 2 (Zech 11:2): Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, Because the glorious trees have been destroyed; Wail, O oaks of Bashan, For the impenetrable forest has come down… So obviously trees and cedars don’t verbalize anything, so this is a figure of speech called a personification, where you take a human attribute and you assign it to an inanimate object like a tree or a cedar to communicate a point; and the point that’s being made is the sorrow in Israel, because of her rejection of her true king. Concerning the cypress and oaks of Bashan, there’s a cross reference and you know what I mean by a cross reference? Same idea, different part of the Bible. In Exodus 27, verse 6 (Exo 27:6), it says: Of oaks from Bashan they have made your rudders; With ivory they have inlaid your deck of boxwood from the coastlands of Cyprus… And who is at fault here? You go down to verse 3 and it’s the shepherds and lions, which is the leaders. So when Jesus showed up the first time, there was always a remnant that was accepting Him but the problem was the leadership of the nation rejected Him. So that would be the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodian dynasty, etc… So that’s described in advance, five hundred years, this rejection in verse 3. By the way, if you look back at verse 2, their forest was impenetrable, the forest was their strongest, you know, feature and God says even that force is going to weep. So it’s kind of interesting to me how God goes after the strongest parts of a nation when it’s under discipline. It kind of reminds me of the strength of America was our Twin Towers. The symbol of American finance and commerce and you know, we saw what happened to those back on 9/11. So the things you think are the strongest are not as strong as we think they are and then he starts making an issue, Zechariah does, out of the rulers and the leaders, I think that’s who the shepherds are. There’s a cross reference in Jeremiah, 25, verses 34 through 38 (Jer 25:34-38) it says: Wail, you shepherds, and cry out; Wallow in the dust, you masters of the flock; For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come, And you will fall like a precious vessel. There will be no sanctuary for the shepherds, Nor escape for the masters of the flock. Hear the sound of the cry of the shepherds, And the wailing of the masters of the flock! For the LORD is destroying their pasture, And the peaceful grazing places are devastated Because of the fierce anger of the LORD. He has left His hiding place like the lion; For their land has become a horror Because of the fierceness of the oppressing sword And because of His fierce anger… So you get the idea that God doesn’t take very kindly to people in a position of leadership over His people, who mislead His people and that’s what the shepherds and leaders did with Jesus at His first coming. They in fact formed a conspiracy against Him and it’s kind of interesting when He brought Lazarus back from the dead in John, 11, as you keep reading to the end of that chapter, you know, rather than embracing the miracle, the Pharisees, the chapter basically concludes with them from that day on saying we’ve got to kill this guy. We’ve got to make this guy dead again. First of all we got to kill Lazarus, because we don’t want people to think that Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead and secondly, we got to get rid of Jesus. So rather than saying, praise the Lord the Messiah has come! You know, they begin to plot to, you know, erase Him and His influence and so that’s why God is upset with these leaders and Zechariah seeing God’s anger at these leaders, five hundred years before it happens. 14:07
You’ll notice that God in His judgment is going to take away the shepherd’s glory. You know, all of their wealth, all of their prestige, you remember how Jesus said they love to, you know, be greeted at the market place and be called Rabbi, father and holy one and how they love money. It was a pretty good racket that they had going. It fed their esteem and it fed their desire for wealth and so all of that’s going to be taken away in this judgment. That’s what it says and then if you look at the bottom of verse 3 (Zech 11:3), it says: For the pride of the Jordan is ruined… So they took pride not only in these forests, impenetrable forests, verse 2, but they took pride in the Jordan River. So everything that they took pride in, God says, is going to come under judgment. So the bottom line to the first three verses is the destruction of Israel, due to the nation’s rejection of her true shepherd, Messiah, Jesus and so we would see a lot of these judgments described there in verses 1 through 3 as transpiring during the seven year tribulation period, cause a lot of these judgments haven’t hit yet. 15:33
So you know, I love the Jewish people and I will do whatever I can to help the Jewish people, but we have to understand that the Jewish nation, as a whole I’m talking about, is under divine discipline right now as I speak, because they rejected her king two thousand years ago and that judgment is yet to fall and verses 1 through 3 is a description of it. So the land then is personified as wailing and then you go down to verses 4 through 14 and you have the reasons for the wailing.
False Shepherd (Zech 11:1-17)
Why is the land wailing? Well, there’s four reasons.
Reasons for the Wailing (Gen 11:4-14)
The first reason is Zechariah pastors a flock doomed to destruction and you see that described in verses 4 through 7 (Zech 11:4-7). In fact, if you look at verse 4, it says: Thus says the LORD my God, Pasture the flock doomed to slaughter… So that’s what launches the paragraph and if you look at the end of verse 7 (Zech 11:7), Zechariah says: So I pastored the flock… So that similar phrase opens the paragraph verse 4 and concludes the paragraph verse 7. So we’re sort of taking verses 4 through 7 there as a literary unit. So look at verse 4 (Zech 11:4): Thus says the LORD my God, Pasture the flock doomed to slaughter… So what does this mean? Zechariah’s told to pastor this flock doomed to destruction. Well, a lot of people say Zechariah is doing a skit of sorts, a drama. Let’s see, is Janet here? There she is, yeah there’s some drama in the Bible, skits. In fact, the prophet Ezekiel, you’ll see him acting out, doing drama, to communicate God’s message to the exilic community. So one view of it is Zechariah like Ezekiel is doing a skit of sorts. I’m more of the view that Zechariah was basically speaking for God and the Messiah as though he were the true shepherd. So, the shepherding that God wanted to do, He was basically trying to do, through the prophet Zechariah. So Zechariah is sort of standing in the place of God here. As this pastor or the shepherd and the problem is he’s pastoring a flock that’s doomed to destruction. Why are they doomed to destruction? Look at verse 5 (Zech 11:5), it says: Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished, and each of those who sell them says, Blessed be the LORD, for I have become rich! And their own shepherds have no pity on them… So we’ve got people selling the sheep, somebody else buying the sheep and the group buying the sheep is butchering the sheep. So those selling the sheep are the leaders or the shepherds and who are they selling the sheep to? They’re selling the sheep to the butchers, who are the foreign oppressors that are coming, they’re buying the sheep and then the butchering of the sheep is the captivity that the nation is going to go into, a worldwide dispersion at the hands of these foreign oppressors. So the leaders are in sin and the people are in sin and these foreign oppressors are buying them in that state of sin and bringing the people of God outside of the land into worldwide dispersion and yet God says, here in verse 5, that those who are purchasing and butchering the sheep are going unpunished. Well, not for long they’re going unpunished, because God says in Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3): the one who curses you, I will curse… So all of these foreign oppressors that think they’re getting away with something, they’re actually not getting away with anything, because one of the Abrahamic promises is, I will curse those who curse you, and it is a historical fact that any nation that has monkeyed around with Israel, you can track this all the way through the Bible whether it’s Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo Persia, Greece, Rome, they always find themselves on the ash heap of human history, despite their tremendous power at the time. So it says they’re going unpunished but they’re really not going unpunished because God’s going to deal with these foreign oppressors. But the people are in sin and that’s what’s leading to this foreign oppression and that shouldn’t be a surprise cause that’s what God said in the Mosaic Covenant. God in the Mosaic Covenant essentially said that when you wander into sin, I will bring curses on the nation. So that’s what you see being described there in verse 5 and then you go to verse 6 (Zech 11:6) and it says: For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the land, declares the LORD; but behold, I will cause the men to fall, each into another’s power and into the power of his king; and they will strike the land, and I will not deliver them from their power… So you notice it makes reference to a king. Who’s the king? The king is the foreign entity that the shepherds through their sins are selling the sheep into, because part of these curses, Deuteronomy, 28, verse 15 through 68 (Deut 28:15-68) is at the height of the curses, it was prophesied all the way back at Mount Sinai, the following what happened to Israel. The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation with a defiant attitude who will show no respect for the old nor show favor to the young. So at the height of Israel’s disobedience, God would bring a foreign power against the nation and when it says here, verse 6, when this foreign power, this king, strikes the land, the land of Israel, God says, in that day I will not deliver my people. So this already happened with Babylon. The nation was taken into seventy years captivity and God didn’t stop it, because the nation brought it upon themselves through their sins and God was acting out the discipline of the Mosaic Covenant and it’s a prediction here that this same pattern is going to continue when their Messiah shows up, the nation will be stiff necked and hardened against Him and so was that great theologian Yogi Bear said, it’s deja vu all over again, because forty years after the time of Christ, God brought Rome against the nation of Israel in AD 70 and that’s what pushed Israel out of the land into two thousand years of worldwide dispersion and so exactly what Zechariah predicted here happened in AD 70.
The foreign power or the foreign king will strike the land, the land of Israel, and God says, I will not stop that king from coming and attacking, because all the way back in the Mosaic Covenant, I said, when you disobey me, there will be very real curses culminating in a foreign power pushing you out of your land. So I think Zechariah here is seeing AD 70 and he’s seeing this five hundred years before Jesus ever showed up. God will not deliver Israel in that day, because of their rejection of their Messiah. 25:12
You continue on into verse 7 (Zech 11:7) and it says, Zechariah’s speaking: So I pastured the flock doomed to slaughter, hence the afflicted of the flock. And I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Favor and the other I called Union; so I pastured the flock… So as Zechariah is sort of standing in the presence of God, it’s sort of a picture here of how God was pasturing this flock, the nation of Israel and yet that flock was doomed to destruction and as Zechariah is sort of acting this out, he makes reference here to the fact that he had two staffs. I found this comment here by Merrill Unger very helpful in trying to understand these two staffs and by the way, if you understand these two staffs, you’ll understand the ministry philosophy that we have here at Sugar Land Bible Church. Merrill Unger says:
Merrill F. Unger – Unger, Merrill F. Zechariah. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963. p. 194.
“The Eastern shepherd carried a rod or stout club hewed from a tree to beat away wild beasts attacking the sheep and a crooked staff for retrieving the sheep from difficult places [cf. Ps. 23:4].”
The Eastern shepherd carried a rod or stout club hewed from a tree to beat away wild beasts attacking the sheep… So that’s staff number one and this is staff number two… and a crooked staff… That’s the one we’re used to seeing, where the shepherd is holding up that staff and it kind of goes up and makes that U shape, that would be staff number two… a crooked staff for retrieving the sheep from difficult places.
So you’ll notice that what a shepherd of the ancient Near East used to do. He had two staffs, the second staff would be to retrieve sheep that, you know, got stuck somewhere, got lost, by the way, when the Lord calls a sheep that’s not much of a compliment, because sheep are some of the dumbest animals on the face of the earth and so sheep are always wandering off, they follow each other off a cliff, if they could. They’re always getting stuck somewhere they shouldn’t and so this shepherd had this crooked staff where he was able to retrieve wayward sheep that needed help. But he also had another staff which had an entirely different purpose, to beat away the wolf or the attackers. So that is a wonderful description of pastoral ministry. Pastoral ministry has a component to it where you’re trying to help those in the flock that need help. But at the same time you’re constantly having to keep out or warn the sheep about false teachers. So there are a lot of ministries that do good with a crooked stick, but they don’t do good with the broad or stout club hewed from a tree. In other words, they spend all their time loving the sheep, feeding the sheep, which is great. A shepherd should do that, but the shepherd also has to warn the sheep of the wolf and sometimes warning the sheep of the wolf, involves naming names. If you don’t name the name of a false teacher, how would you know to stay away from given false teacher? It’s like the Tylenol scare. I remember in the early 1980’s where people were taking Tylenol and dying and so the FDA put out a big service announcement and they said, stay away from Tylenol. They named the brand and if they didn’t name the brand what good would they be doing? They wouldn’t be helping people. They wouldn’t know what to stay away from. So sometimes in pastoral ministry, there is a necessity to name the names of false teachers. In fact, if you look carefully at, as we’re dealing with elder selection, the qualifications for an elder, you’ll notice one of the things inserted on that page or package is an elder has to be willing to name the name of a false teacher. If they don’t have a desire to do that, if they think that’s too controversial, if they think that’s too contentious, if they think that that’s not good for show business, you know, whatever the excuse is, then they’re not qualified biblically to be an elder, because a shepherd did both. A shepherd loved the sheep, cared for the sheep, fed the sheep, helped the sheep out of difficult places, but at the same time he carried that different stick where he beat back the wolf and that’s what a pastor is, a pastor is just like a shepherd, an elder is a shepherd and so you’ll notice that Zechariah here mentions two sticks. That’s why he’s talking about two sticks, because an eastern shepherd carried both. 31:06
Now he says one of the sticks though, is named Favor and the other stick is called Union. So now we’re going to get an additional meaning of these two sticks. So we know what these two sticks typically did, now Zechariah’s going to assign an additional meaning to these two sticks. The first stick is called Favor, because the nation of Israel was God’s favorite nation. God chose Israel. Deuteronomy, 7, verse 7 (Det 7:7), says: The LORD did not make you His beloved nor choose you because you were greater in number than any of the peoples, since you were the fewest of all peoples… But it’s very clear that God chose Israel and if you’re tracking with us in the book of Genesis on Sunday morning, you’re seeing clear examples of that through the calling and the choosing of Abraham to become a great nation through which would come the nation of Israel and ultimately Jesus Christ. So one stick is called Favor. You’ll notice that the other stick is called the Union, meaning unity, because God’s desire was always to take the nation, which was divided between the north and the south, following Solomon’s reign.
Solomon, when you get to 1st Kings, 11, went into gross sin and God brought discipline when Solomon left the throne and the nation was divided in 1st Kings, 12, between the ten northern tribes, headquartered in Samaria, called Israel.
The two southern tribes, headquartered in Jerusalem, called Judah and from that point on the kingdom was divided. So God’s desire was always to bring those two divided entities within the nation of Israel back together again. That’s what if you’ve been tracking with us on Sunday school in our Middle East Meltdown study, that’s what Ezekiel, 37, verses 15 through 28 (Ezek 37:15-28) is about.
The two sticks becoming one, the divided kingdom will be United again in the millennium, just like it was before Solomon left the throne. So that’s why stick number two is called Union. God always wanted to put the nation of Israel back together again. So that’s sort of the description of Zechariah standing in the place of God pastoring this flock doomed to destruction and then you go to verses 8 through 11 where we learn that God no longer favors this flock. God’s favor is not on this flock anymore, that Zechariah is pastoring. 34:18
Reasons for the Wailing (Gen 11:4-14)
So take a look at verse 8 (Zech 11:8) and it says: Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month, for my soul was impatient with them, and their soul also was weary of me… So what in the world is this talking about? Then I annihilated three shepherds in one month? And according to Joyce Baldwin in her Zechariah commentary, she says:
Joyce Baldwin – Baldwin, Joyce G. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series. Leicester, Eng., and Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972. Page 181.
“…probably the most enigmatic verse in the whole Old Testament.”
This is probably the most enigmatic verse in the whole Old Testament… So here’s a verse that almost no one agrees on what it means. In fact, the last time I checked, there are forty interpretations of verse 8. So, verse 8 would not be something to start a new church on, for example. If you have a certain interpretation of verse 8, I don’t know if starting a new church over that would be worth it, because there’s so much disagreement on what that means. Thomas Constable says of this verse:
Thomas L. Constable – Constable’s online notes on Zechariah, p. 106-107.
“Zechariah, as God’s representative, did away with ‘three shepherds’ that had been leading his flock within the first ‘month’ that he took charge of the sheep. These appear to have been real shepherds and a real month. At the very least, Zechariah’s action prefigured that of Messiah, in taking over the leadership of His flock from other leaders of Israel who did not appreciate His leadership. Who these shepherds were or will be has been the subject of much debate.”
So what we know for sure is God makes a prophecy that within a month three shepherds are going to be annihilated. The debate is who are these three shepherds that God is going to annihilate. Well, here’s my best guess at it. I think the three shepherds that God will annihilate in a month are the elders of Israel, that’s shepherd one, the chief priests of Israel, that would be shepherd two and the scribes, that would be shepherd three and in Luke’s gospel chapter 9, verse 22 (Luke 9:22), you’ll see all three there together. Where it says: The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders… That’s shepherd one… the chief priests… That’s shepherd two… and the scribes… That would be shepherd three… the the Son of Man will be killed and be raised on the third day… The month, in my interpretation of it, which may not be right, is the month preceding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which sealed Israel’s fate, that critical month. In fact, that month culminated in a week that we’re celebrating in Christianity this week, Passion Week, leading to the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ from the dead. So the month is the month prior to the crucifixion, the three shepherds would be the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. This interpretation, I didn’t just pull out of my hat, it’s actually the interpretation of Merrill Unger. 38:16
So Merrill Unger in his Zechariah commentary describes verse 8 as follows, he says:
Merrill F. Unger – Unger, Merrill F. Zechariah. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963. p. 195.
“The only construction which is at all to any notice, is that which regards the language as descriptive of the three rulers in the Jewish state – the priests, the teachers of the law, and the civil magistrates. These were the people of influential prestige by whom the nation’s affairs were managed and to whose wickedness, which reached its acme when they crucified the Messiah, the destruction of the state is to be ascribed. The one month can best be understood as referring to the period of culminating unbelief just before the national leaders crucified our Lord and thus sealed the fate of the Jewish state. During this period the nation rejected our Lord, and the Lord rejected the nation by disavowing its leaders.”
It’s interesting at the end of verse 8, God says, for my soul was impatient with them and their soul was weary of me. I didn’t like them and they didn’t like me, God says. They were tired of me and I was tired of them and who was God tired of? These entities in power misleading the sheep, the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and the reason God was weary with them is they have no room in their hearts for God and so they’re the culprit of everything that went wrong, leading to the crucifixion of Christ, sealing Israel’s fate to be meted out forty years after that in the events of AD 70. You go to verse 9 (Zech 11:9) and it says: Then I said, I will not pasture you. What is to die, let it die, and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated… So Zechariah who’s functioning as a pastor as God’s representative basically is abandoning shepherding the flock at this point and leaving this flock to experience the consequences of their own sin and their own unbelief. So you can reach a point with God, the nation of Israel reached that point, where they were just so obstinate that God just removed His shepherding care from them and then look at verse 9, this is something else here, end of verse 9 (Zech 11:9): and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh… Now, there is a reference in Josephus, in his wars of the Jews. Josephus, of course, is a historian who describes exactly what happened in AD 70 and he mentions how the Jews did literally eat one another. During the siege of Jerusalem in the 1st century. That’s how bad conditions got in terms of famine, starvation and all of these kinds of things and they were forced into cannibalism and I think Zechariah is actually seeing that five hundred years in advance and then, you look down at verse 10 (Zech 11:10), this goes back to the two sticks: I took my staff Favor and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples… So Zechariah as he’s standing in the place as God’s representative seeking to pastor this flock doomed to destruction, he has two sticks, one of them was labeled Favor and he takes that stick and he chops it up. So that signifies the end of favorable care as a pastor that he had provided. Now, when it says break my covenant, that’s a tough one, because we teach that God’s covenant with the Jewish people, the Abrahamic Covenant, go back to our studies in Genesis and you’ll see the evidence for this, we went through it very carefully. Also go back to the Coming Kingdom series, where we laid out at the beginning this very carefully, the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, it cannot be broken. The Abrahamic Covenant of course, is the foundation of the subsequent covenants that God made with the nation of Israel.
So we’ve taught over and over again that that covenant cannot be violated, can’t be broken and then we run into this verse here where Zechariah takes one of his sticks, the one marked Favor and cuts it in pieces and it says, to break my covenant. So what does that mean? I get some help here from Leupold, in his Zechariah commentary, he says:
“The term ‘covenant’ is here used in a looser sense, not as descriptive of a formal agreement entered into by contracting parties, but to indicate that, when the peoples round about Israel did her no harm, this was due to the fact that God had put them under as strong a restraint as might be exerted upon a nation by a covenant solemnly sworn to.”
So Leupold is saying, this isn’t talking about the Abrahamic Covenant, the word covenant here is being used more loosely. What it’s talking about is God giving the nation over to discipline and when the nations come against Israel in divine discipline, which by the way God said would happen going back to Mount Sinai, God says, I’m not going to step in and protect you. I’m not going to step in and exert pastoral shepherding care over you. I’m not going to use the crooked stick to pull you out of difficult places and I’m not going to use the other stick hewn out of the tree to beat away the false shepherds any longer. I’m just going to give you over to your own consequences and in fact it’s going to get so bad, that you’re going to actually revert to cannibalism, where you’re going to eat each other. 45:40
He goes on in verse 11 (Zech 10:11) and he says: So it was broken… That’s this stick marked Favor. This is not exactly a happy Wednesday night bible study, is it?… So it was broken on that day, and thus the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of the LORD… So when he took that stick and he chopped it up, the righteous remnant and there’s always a righteous remnant, knew exactly what that meant. That meant the withdrawal of God’s favor. So Dr. Constable there on verse 11 says:
Thomas L. Constable – Constable’s online notes on Zechariah, p. 108-109.
“The faithful Israelites who were listening to Zechariah, ‘the afflicted of’ God’s ‘flock’(cf. v. 7), realized that what he had done in breaking the staff was in harmony with ‘the word of the LORD.’”
God said that would happen with curses coming upon the nations, Deuteronomy, 28, and one of those curses would be an invasion by a foreign power and now, we get to the heart of the problem here.
Reasons for the Wailing (Gen 11:4-14)
See, verses 1 through 3 (Zech 11:1-3), the nation, the trees, everything is wailing. Verses 4 through 14 (Zech 11:4-14) is the reasons for the wailing. Zechariah standing in the place of God is pastoring a flock doomed to destruction, verses 4 through 7 8Zech 11:4-7). God no longer favors the flock, verses 8 through 11 (Zech 11:8-11). That’s what’s meant by the breaking of that stick called Favor and here’s really the whole problem and I’m so happy we are studying this on Holy Week, just a couple of days before what’s called Good Friday. It’s a prophecy five hundred years in advance which is the root of the problem that Israel would reject her own Messiah, verses 12 and 13 (Zech 11:12-13). So look at verse 12 (Zech 11:12): I said to them, If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!… So Zechariah says, standing in the place of God, I’m not pastoring this flock anymore, it’s doomed to destruction. So pay me what you owe me, cause I’m checking out as your pastor and by the way, you haven’t treated me real well as your pastor anyway so you may not want to pay me anything. So if you don’t want to pay anything, then just keep your money. That’s what Zechariah is saying there and then you look at verse 12 (Zech 11:12) and it says: So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages… Pay me what you owe me if you think you owe me anything and they just gave him thirty pieces of silver. Now, thirty pieces of silver goes back to Exodus, 21, verse 32 (Exod 21:32) which says: If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned… So thirty shekels of silver was the price of a gored slave, it’s basically what it was. So when they gave Zechariah thirty pieces of silver what they’re saying is your service was not worth any more than a dead slave. So Zechariah says, I’m not going to be your pastor anymore, pay me what you want to pay me cause I’m leaving and if you don’t want to pay me anything, I get that too cause you’re a bunch of ungrateful people, that’s what he’s saying and so they took the thirty pieces of silver, which is nothing more than the price of a dead slave and threw it at Zechariah totally devaluing his shepherding and pastoral role. In other words, they were insulting him by throwing these thirty pieces of silver at him. Of course this is messianic. This is all pointing to Matthew, 26, verse 15 (Matt 26:15) which says: What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?.. That’s Judas speaking to the religious leaders… And they set out for him thirty pieces of silver… So when Judas sold out for thirty pieces of silver, he completely undervalued the shepherding role of Jesus Christ just as this doomed flock completely undervalued the shepherding role of Zechariah who was functioning as God’s representative here. 50:59
So this is the root of the problem. This is an explanation of why this flock is doomed because they don’t value the true shepherd, they’re willing to pay almost nothing, if anything, for the services of the true shepherd and this is why the nation has experienced so many consequences. This is why they are experiencing so many national consequences right now. They have no value by and large for Jesus Christ and then you get to verse 13 (Zech 11:13) and it says: Then the LORD said to me, Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them… When he says magnificent price, that’s sarcasm… So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD… So basically, throw the thirty pieces of silver into the potter’s field, since his service was not worth much more than that. Thomas Constable says:
Thomas L. Constable – Constable’s online notes on Zechariah, p. 109-110.
“The Lord instructed Zechariah to ‘throw’ the 30 shekels of silver ‘to the potter’ since it was, sarcastically, such a handsome (‘magnificent’) price… Oh! You value me as your pastor so much that you’re willing to pay me nothing more than you would for a dead slave… His service… Constable says… had been worth far more than that. Throwing something to the potter was evidently a proverbial way of expressing disdain for it, since potters were typically poor and lowly craftsmen.”
So Zechariah gets these thirty pieces of silver and just throws them into the potter’s field there and who were potters? They were just poor and lowly craftsmen. So it shows you the total undervaluing of the role of God, the role of Zechariah, the role of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the nation of Israel. Just as a quick excursus here. One of the tragedies, cause I’m president of a little school, Chafer Seminary, and I hear all of the horror stories of pastors that go to churches only to be mistreated by the churches. The pastor’s role, you know, many times is not respected. Many times there’ll be people on the boards of these churches that are undermining the pastor. Oftentimes the pastor is paid such a low wage that it’s very difficult for him to survive, rearing his family, young family in that particular area and it’s like these churches they take pastors, they chew them up and they spit them out and then they say to the seminary, send us another one. Why? So you can mess up the second person’s life just as much as you messed up the first person’s life? And it’s a tragic thing to watch churches mistreat their own pastors. It’s a tragedy. Now, I’m very fortunate here at Sugar Land Bible Church for that has not been my experience. This church pays me very well. This church lets me for the most part, guide the sheep the way God has called me to do it. This church allows me to use both sticks. The stick for rescuing the sheep and the other stick for beating away the false shepherds. But most pastors around the world and in our country don’t have that same luxury and so we really need to start rethinking some of the principles of this passage and we need to start figuring out why pastors are quitting so frequently. Pastor Dennis Rockser has the statistics, I can’t remember it but he’s got some statistics where thousands of pastors resign every single year and they typically resign on a Monday, probably because they’ve had an elder meeting Sunday night which has pushed them to the point where they realize that they’re not the authority in the church, it’s some political group or something that doesn’t want their power challenged and so they just quit, they say, well, pastoring is not for me, they try and go do something else. I mean, this happens more and more regularly, more and more frequently than you would ever know unless you’re in my position as president Chafer and heard all of these horror stories. 56:26
That needs to change if Christianity is going to change in America. I don’t believe that pastors are authoritarian dictators. There are pastors that act like that too, tragically. But I believe that if someone is called to be a pastor, you should pay him correctly. You should basically respect his authority. You should try to give him the benefit of the doubt. You know, even when you disagree with them on something and I’m blessed to be here at SLBC because of that. That’s not something that many pastors around the world experience. 1st Timothy chapter 5, verses 17 and 18 (1 Tim 5:17-18), says: The elders who lead well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching… Hey! This is hard work trying to do this, this is not easy. I mean, to take a book that in the New Testament is written two thousand years ago and then you go back three thousand five hundred years all the way back to the time of Moses and to try to understand it and make it relevant and applicable to people, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do and if you think it’s easy, try it for yourself. I mean, it’s a special calling to be able to stand up here and do this. It’s a privilege but it’s not easy. So Paul writes to Timothy and he says: The elders who lead well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE IT IS THRESHING… In other words, when you come against the pastor through all these different things I’m talking about, you inhibit his ability to do what God has called him to do, which is to feed the sheep and to beat back the false teachers and then it says: The laborer is worthy of his wages… Don’t tell me you value the pastor of your church when you’re paying him such a low wage that he can’t even survive economically and so, that’s a little excursus there but I think it’s something that has to be said. Can I get an Amen from somebody on that? 59:17
Let me just wrap this up because I want to tie it into the Messiah. This is all messianic of course, verse 13, because when you read Matthew, 27, verses 3 through 10 (Matt 27:3-10), you will see Judas selling out to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. So all of this is typological of what we’re commemorating in Christianity this week called the Passion Week. In Matthew, 23, verse 3 (Matt 23:3) you’ll see the thirty pieces of silver, you’ll see Judas feeling remorseful. In Matthew, 23, verse 7 (Matt 23:7): And throwing the money into the potter’s field… Exactly what’s described here. In fact, you’ll even see this passage quoted in Matthew, 27, verses 9 and 10 (Matt 27:9-10). Now, one problem I’ll make you aware of is Matthew attributes this prophecy to Jeremiah, not Zechariah and when you watch the History Channel, A&E, Mysteries of the Bible, they’ll make a big deal about this and they’ll basically say the Bible is filled with errors because we all know that this is a prophecy from Zechariah and yet Matthew attributes this prophecy to Jeremiah and they’ll never have a conservative on, just some liberal from Harvard tearing the Bible down. They won’t have a conservative on to give the opposite side. We have fake news, right? There’s something called fake theology out there and so people think, well, I guess the Bible’s filled with mistakes. The answer to it is this prophecy is spoken of in Jeremiah. It’s spoken of in Jeremiah, 32, verses 6 through 9 (Jer 32:6-9), you’ll see similar language. But it’s also spoken of in Zechariah. So what Matthew is doing is he’s taking the prophecies of Zechariah and Jeremiah and he’s conflating them together and he is attributing them to the most well-known of the two prophets and the most well-known of the two prophets would be not Zechariah, the minor prophet, but the major prophet Jeremiah. 1:1:54
Vernon McGee can’t go wrong there, right? Says concerning this issue:
“It is credited to Jeremiah simply because in Jesus’ day Jeremiah was the first of the books of the prophets, and that section was identified by the name of the first book.”
So Hebrew Bible was divided into three parts: Torah: Law; Nevi’im: Prophets; Ketuvim: writings and so the very first book in the prophet, Nevi’im, that’s where we get TNK. T-Torah, N- Nevi’im, K- Ketuvim. Torah or law; Nevi’im or prophets; Ketuvim or writings. The first book in the Nevi’im section, see, the Hebrew Bible was organized differently than the way our Protestant Old Testament is organized. We have historical books, wisdom books, prophets, that’s not how the Jews organized this material. They organized it according to TNK. The very first book in Nevi’im or prophets was Jeremiah. So that’s why when Matthew takes Jeremiah and Zechariah and conflates it, he doesn’t attribute it to Zechariah and Jeremiah but to Jeremiah, because Jeremiah was the first book of Nevi’im, first book of the prophets section. So my point is rather than immediately rush to the conclusion that, Oh! No, the Bible’s filled with errors, let’s just throw the whole thing out. Let’s all go home and cry. The History Channel disproved us, you know, boo hoo. Let’s like search out for an answer, because there actually are answers to these things and the reason I bring them up is because your children and your grandchildren are going to be hit with these lies and you need to be in a position to reverse the propaganda that’s in their head. Hey! Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, I was just watching cable and they said the Bible is filled with errors because they took a prophecy from Zechariah and attributed it to Jeremiah. What do you think about that? And your average Christian, because they’re in churches that don’t teach any apologetics. They’re too busy telling you how to have your best life now. Three points in a poem, week after week, they just sit there flat footed, they have no idea what to say. But because you come to Sugar Land Bible Church, you at least know where to look for an answer right. See, there’s a difference between an educated and an uneducated person. The difference is the educated person doesn’t know everything. But the educated person knows where to look for an answer. The uneducated person doesn’t even know where to look. So what I’m trying to do in my ministry here is to equip you with sources whereby you can search these things out for yourself, and aren’t shocked all of a sudden when your kids reach 16, 17, 18, 19 years of age aren’t walking with the Lord anymore, because someone told them on cable that the Bible is filled with errors. You’re in a position to reverse the propaganda and so that’s why I bring these things up. So, let’s stop there. That’s a good place to stop by the way, as we get ready for Good Friday and we’ll pick it up with verse 14 next time.
Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for your word, your truth and things that You would have us to learn. I’ll pray you will help us to keep a special recognition on the person of Jesus Christ this week as we celebrate His death, burial, resurrection and ascension for all of our sins. That we, by simply putting trust in him, can have eternal life. So help us to be people of gratitude this week as we walk with you. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. God’s people said, Amen.