Zechariah 11:1-11

Zechariah 11:1-11

by | May 22, 2009 | Uncategorized

Zechariah 11:1-3 When we study prophecy we need to remember that history, the fulfillment of the predictions in the real world is the final interpreter of prophecy as Yeshua told us in John 13:19. These verses focus on the judgment that would begin in Lebanon and Bashan, the areas north and east of Israel. Lebanon, prided itself on its cedars, and Bashan, for their mighty oaks, both of them are humbled by having the source of their pride wiped out, just as our pride must yield to the Lord either now or when judgment comes.

Trees also are used in Scripture to describe kings. We see a classic illustration of this in Isaiah 11:1. Pharaoh is portrayed as a cypress or a cedar tree in Eden (Ezekiel 31:1-9); and Nebuchadnezzar was likened to a tree in Daniel 4. The cedar speaks of the pride of Lebanon in Isaiah 2:13. Zechariah 11:3 is an allusion to the words of Jeremiah 25:34-37, where he spoke about kings who grieved over the loss of their glory, because the Lord brought His judgment on their nations.

These verses are likely a poetic description of the collapse of all the surrounding nations in that future day when God comes to judge those who have rebelled against Him. Since nothing like this has occurred after Zechariah wrote this we will likely understand this after the events are fulfilled.

Zechariah 11:4-6 in the first three verses, the devastation of the land is described. The next three verses move from the judgment that would fall on the land to the judgment on the people. Some believe that when Zechariah was told to “shepherd the flock doomed for slaughter”. It could be that Zechariah was told to act out a drama in front of the people so that they could visualize what God was going to do. Jeremiah and Ezekiel did this in communicating God’s word to His people.

Many people could not read, so prophetic truths were acted out in order that the people might understand the message God was sending through His prophet. For those who could read, the visual message reinforced God’s written word. What the prophet was saying is that the flock was headed for destruction. Even today, animals headed for slaughter are given extra food to fatten them up. The flock is the nation of Israel.

They had walked away from obedience to the Lord, and God, and so God is going judgment to come on them. Zechariah was told to feed God’s rebellious flock one more time, in the hope that some would heed his message and turn to the Lord, sadly though they had wandered too far away from Him to even hear His voice.

In Zechariah 11:5 is speaking about the false shepherds of Israel the religious and political leaders of Zechariah’s day like the Pharisees and Sadducees in the days of Yeshua who exploited the common Israelite and were leaders in the Jewish rejection of our Messiah. They had become rich at the expense of the people and had been false teachers and self serving leaders.

Finally, in Zechariah 11:6, God would no longer pity or spare “the inhabitants of the land.” He would not only deliver them into the hands of those whom God raised up to judge them but would cause such strife among the people that neighbors would begin fighting with each other betraying them into the hands of their judges. God would not intervene since Israel and its leaders rebelled against Him, His blessing and protection was removed. This a warning to all who refuse to listen to the call of the Lord.

Zechariah 11:7-8 Zechariah obeys the Lord’s command but speaks of the oppressed of the flock. This group could be speaking of the remnant of true believers who lived in Israel at the time of the Messiah, people like Anna, Simeon, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph.

Zechariah picked up two staffs to act out the part of a shepherd. One was called נׄעַם “naam” which is the root or Naomi’s name, which means pleasant or favored and the other was called חֹבְלִים “chobleam” which means “a company rejoicing” which most translate as “union”. In Psalm 23 the shepherd has “rod” and a “staff,” which he uses to lead and protect his sheep.

The staffs speak of Zechariah as a shepherd of God’s people; they also speak of what Zechariah wanted for God’s people, he wanted them, he wanted his people to enjoy God’s favor, and he wanted them to experience unity of the northern and southern kingdoms.

God was also picturing the Good Shepherd who was to come who graciously and tenderly cared for His covenant people. Jesus when He was on the earth was gracious, gentle, loving, and kind to His people. He was meek and humble, even though His people were far from God and the truths of His Word.

Our wonderful Messiah was a picture of God’s grace and compassion. He fed and shepherded the flock then and He does so today if we will abide in Him. Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Just as God promised, He did His best to draw the Jewish people to Himself and the Father.

Zechariah 11:7 Zechariah obeys the Lord’s command but speaks of the oppressed of the flock. This group could be speaking of the remnant of true believers who lived in Israel at the time of the Messiah, people like Anna, Simeon, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph. Zechariah picked up two staffs to act out the part of a shepherd. One was called נׄעַם “naam” which is the root of Naomi’s name, which means pleasant or favored and the other was called חֹבְלִים “chobleam” which means “a company rejoicing” which most translate as “union”.

In Psalm 23 the shepherd has “rod” and a “staff,” which he uses to lead and protect his sheep. The staffs speak of Zechariah as a shepherd of God’s people; they also speak of what Zechariah wanted for God’s people, he wanted his people to enjoy God’s favor, and he wanted them to experience unity of the northern and southern kingdoms. God was also picturing the Good Shepherd who was to come who graciously and tenderly cared for His covenant people.

Jesus when He was on the earth was gracious, gentle, loving, and kind to His people. He was meek and humble, even though His people were far from God and the truths of His Word. Our wonderful Messiah was a picture of God’s grace and compassion. He fed and shepherded the flock then and He does so today if we will abide in Him. Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Just as God promised, He did His best to draw the Jewish people to Himself and the Father.

Zechariah 11:8 Commentators disagree on who these three shepherds are. They were likely spiritual leaders in the time of Zechariah but one could also make an application that these shepherds dismissed speak of the religious leaders in the time of Yeshua, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Scribes. Under these leaders Israel was led so far from the Lord, and it was their spiritual corruption that contributed to the crucifixion of Jesus. But in truth we really can’t say who these Shepherds Zechariah is speaking of. This will be one of those things that will become clear to us in the future.

The last part of verse 8 speaks of their utter disdain for the Lord, His shepherd Zechariah and again also applies to the Good Shepherd and Messiah, both Zechariah and Yeshua lost patience with the false shepherds of Israel who cared for themselves and not God’s flock. We see this articulated in the “woes” of Matthew 23. Although Yeshua had given them numerous opportunities, they turn away from Him. The Jewish leaders regarded Yeshua with disdain and believe that He will jeopardize their ability to lead the nation by causing Rome to react to the volatility that Yeshua’s might bring to the nation in rebelling against them and Rome’s authority.

Zechariah 11:9 Having lost patience with both the religious leaders and the people who followed them, Zechariah said, “I will not feed you” (Zechariah 11:9) or shepherd you. All the tender care that Zechariah had for God’s people was removed. He literally “gave them up,” this also points to the Paul’s words to those who repeatedly harden their hearts to the Lord as in Romans 1:24. Tragedy would now befall the nation.

Several illustrations are used by Zechariah to portray the spiritual condition of the people: “Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”.The sheep were in a state of dying, and the Lord would do nothing to hold back death from coming: This was partially fulfilled when the Lord turned Israel over to the Roman judgment of 70 A.D. Zechariah goes so far to suggest that the rest of the people, in their total rejection of Him and their malice toward each other, were devouring one another, just as Paul described in Galatians 5:15. Sadly this literally was fulfilled in the Roman siege, when people were eating one another because of famine.

What a tragedy! They were judged and given up because of their rejection of the God’s anointed. We can learn a powerful lesson from this for we are similarly warned not to harden our hearts to the Lord (Hebrews 4:7,1 Corinthians 11:30). We too risk such judgment if we turn our backs on God’s Shepherd, His Spirit and His Word
Zechariah 11:10-11 Zechariah took the staff that was in his hand, called “pleasant or graciousness”, and broke it.

The prophet was told to do this as a sign that the Lord had broken a covenant He had made with the people. The covenant spoken of here was not one of His basic covenants with Israel but, rather, a covenant God had made with the nations. The covenant was this:

Although nations would come against Israel at God’s bidding to punish her for her sins, God placed certain restraints on them. He had set bounds and limits on the length and severity of the oppression. With the breaking of the staff of graciousness, those limits were now removed. God’s hand of protection and graciousness for His people was removed.

Almost anything could happen because Israel was no longer under God’s hand of protection. This is similar to the removal of God’s protection when Israel rebelled against God’s command to go and take the Land under Moses at Kadesh Barnea causing them to wander in the wilderness forty more years.

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