Rejection of the Good ShepherdZechariah 11:1-17Theme: Unbelief.This week’s lessons remind us of the danger of denying the Savior. LessonIf there were any question about the use of the word oracle (Heb. massa, “a burden”) to introduce Zechariah 9 – 11 (in Zech. 9:1), it should be dispelled now. For the encouragements of chapters 9 and 10 are followed in chapter 11 by one of the darkest prophecies in all Israel’s prophetic literature.
This chapter falls into three parts. The first section (vv. 1-3) is a description of a coming judgment on Israel. It is a terrible section, though Charles Feinberg rightly calls it “the most poetic section of the whole book of Zechariah.”1 The second section (vv. 4-14) describes a symbolic action by Zechariah, reminding us of similar actions of Ezekiel and other prophets. In this case, Zechariah was to assume the role of a shepherd and thus portray events to be fulfilled in the rejection of the coming true Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was to serve the people, be rejected by them, and then abandon them to the consequences of that rejection. This section contains the prophecy of the pricing of the shepherd at thirty pieces of silver, quoted in the New Testament in Matthew 27:9-10. The third section (vv. 15-17) describes a second symbolic act in which Zechariah assumes the role of a wicked shepherd in anticipation of an additional judgment upon the nation.
There can be little doubt that the first three verses of chapter 11 describe a coming judgment upon the land beginning with Lebanon in the north and continuing to Bashan and the Jordan. This is unexpected in view of the assurances of God’s provision and care for his people in just the previous chapter, but, unexpected or not, this is what is stated. The only question concerns the events to which these verses should be referred.
1 Charles L. Feinberg, God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1965), p. 154. Study Questions
Describe the three sections of Zechariah, chapter 11.
Why is the harsh judgment of this chapter startling?
ApplicationDo you keep a balance in understanding God’s love and mercy, but also his judgment? How should your actions be influenced by these aspects of God’s character?
ReflectionHas God ever acted unexpectedly in your life? How was your life changed?