“This is what the Lord my God says: “Pasture the flock marked for slaughter.””
“So I pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one favour and the other union, and I pastured the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.”
Zechariah 11:4, 7-8a
It never ceases to amaze me when the Word of God demonstrates itself as relevant and powerful to speak to the real life situations we find ourselves facing in life. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once asked the question regarding the dangerous nature of a Lion. He said that, “We do not debate the power and dangerousness of the Lion; we simply release him and let him do his worst.” In the same way we do not debate the relevance and power of the Word of God. We release it and let it do its work. Scripture will demonstrate its own power and relevance. Such is the feelings I find myself confronting when it comes to reflecting upon the text of Zechariah 11. Here we encounter a prophesy regarding the consequences of rejecting the Good Shepherd when He comes to His people.
There are a couple of preliminary points here that need to be explored before we get at the message of the text. First, this is an acted out parable. Zechariah is given commands by God which he acts out, in obedience, before the people so that they can be taught a great truth. Zechariah’s obedience is in fact an illustration of what it means to live out the repentance that God calls His people to live. There is God’s command, and Zechariah’s simple obedience. Second, we see here the marvellous grace of God revealed for His people’s comfort. The text is about the fact that God’s people are steadily marching towards a judgment which the Lord God has said is coming because they will reject Him when He comes among them. In the middle of the description of judgment here there is however a word of grace. The Good Shepherd will come, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing hope and grace to those who are like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34) . He cares for them, especially the poor and oppressed. Still they reject Him, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). In doing so they placed themselves under judgment. Zechariah clearly communicates what is to come as God gives His people over to it.
Steven J. Cole in his sermon “The Tragedy of Rejecting Christ” (June 22, 2003) applies the message of this chapter in Zechariah with the following three points which are centred upon a quote from Charles Feinberg in his Minor Prophets.
“Nothing in this world is so disastrous as sin.”
- Rejecting Christ leads to great tragedy personally and nationally. (Zechariah 11:6)
- God’s people are judged when they are exploited by ruthless shepherds. Their leaders turn them into a consumer commodity.
- God’s people are judged when they are exploited by their neighbours.
- God’s people are judged when they are exploited by their King.
- God’s people are judged when their land is devastated.
- God’s people are judged when they are abandoned by God.
- To reject Christ means to not value Him properly. In Zechariah 11:12 an image is described for us of Zechariah receiving wages according to how his ministry is valued by the people. They pay him 30 pieces of silver, the amount owing for a slave that has been killed when it is gored by an ox. The Good Shepherd will not be valued by the people He has come to seek and to save.
- To receive Christ is to value Him properly. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 13:44-46.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all that he had and bought that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
How much do you value the Lord Jesus Christ?