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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 11

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-17

Tonight we have a fascinating area of scripture to cover. Pray the Lord will give me the gift of brevity. For we are surely getting into some exciting areas of biblical prophecy, as the Lord begins to speak of the events that will be transpiring in these last days. Some of them we see already in the beginning of their fulfillment. Others that will be fulfilled very shortly.

But before we get into the events of these last days, chapter 11 deals with the first coming of Jesus Christ, and His rejection, and His being sold for thirty pieces of silver. As Jesus said, "I came in My Father's name and you did not receive Me, but another one is coming in his own name, and him you will receive" ( John 5:43 ). So here in the eleventh chapter it speaks about the true Shepherd that was rejected and the false shepherd that will be followed and accepted by the people.

So chapter 11, first of all, the prediction of the destruction and devastation that would come to the Jews by the Roman government as their authority and government would be taken away from them. The Romans were to invade from the north. The invasion of the Roman troops began in the northern part of Israel, through Lebanon, moving south, until they finally encircled Jerusalem, and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and slaughtered over one million Jews. So the prophet begins with this invasion coming from the area of the north.

Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled ( Zechariah 11:1-3 ):

Now these are the shepherds that were ruling in Jerusalem, that is, the rulers of the Jewish people.

a voice of the roaring of the young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled. Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty ( Zechariah 11:3-5 ):

The rulers were oppressing the people, and yet, did not have any feelings of guilt at all. They were derelict in their fulfilling the obligation of a ruler over the people. They were taking advantage of their position, and they were oppressing the people in a spiritual sense, and enriching themselves through it.

At the time of the coming of Jesus Christ, the priesthood had been corrupted. Of course, the priests were a part of the rulership. There were the scribes, and the priests, and the rulers, but basically the Jewish people, though under Roman domination, were ruled by the high priests and by the supposed spiritual leaders. It was quite a corrupt system.

Jesus came out against it, and of course, that is what created the animosity against Jesus and the determination to kill Him. He came into the temple, you remember, and He made a whip out of some ropes, and He began to overturn the tables of the moneychangers. He began to drive them out. He said that, "My Father's house is to be called a house of prayer, but you've made it a den of thieves" ( Matthew 21:13 ).

Now what was going on, basically, is that they had quite a little market system going within the temple itself. Very profitable indeed, because they had a monopoly. The priest would not receive any coinage for the temple treasury except the temple shekel, the silver temple shekel. So that the coinage of the day was the Roman coinage. But you try and put a Roman coin in the offering plate, and you were in big trouble. They just wouldn't accept it. They only would deal with the temple shekel. So if a person wanted to give to God, it was necessary that he change his Roman coinage for the temple shekel. That's where they had the profitable little business. That's what the moneychangers were all about. These men would sit there in the gate of the temple and they would exchange your Roman coinage for the temple shekel, but at a sizable profit to them. They were actually profiteering off of the desire of the people to give to God. No wonder such a thing upset Jesus and was an abomination unto Him. People taking advantage of that desire that people have to worship God and to walk with God. Men supposedly spiritual leaders and yet using their position for their own personal gain and profit.

The same was true with the doves and the lambs that they were selling. Now you could buy a couple of doves out in the street for just a farthing or so. But if you would bring one of those doves in to the priest, he would search it carefully until he could find a blemish, and he'd say, "Can't take this. Won't offer this to God. Look, it's got a blemish here." So you were forced to buy these expensive doves that these fellows were selling in the gates. Whereas out on the streets you could buy them for fifteen, twenty cents, these guys were selling them for five bucks. They had their little mark on it, the priests see it, "Yes, that one's been approved. It's kosher. We'll take that one and offer it." Again, the idea was profiteering off of religion, or off of the religious desires of the people.

Such a thing has always, and continues to be an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. God help any man who seeks to profiteer off of people's desire to know God and have fellowship with God, and would actually stand in the way and be a middleman to make a profit or to reap a profit off of the desire of people to know God. It angered Jesus then. It angers Jesus now. He is not any more tolerant toward those who today are profiteering off of the innate religious desires within people than He was in that day.

So the Lord in prophecy here speaks out against these shepherds who actually were destroying the people, but didn't feel any guilt over it all.

and they were saying of themselves, Oh bless the Lord; I'm so rich [God has prospered me]: and their own shepherds did not really have pity on the people. [So God declares,] I'm not gonna any longer pity the inhabitants of the land: but, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbor's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them ( Zechariah 11:5-6 ).

In other words, the Lord here predicts that the Roman troops are gonna come, and the power of government is gonna be taken away from Israel. That Israel will be dispersed from the land, and God will not spare them. God will not have mercy upon them in that day, but will allow the Roman troops to be an instrument of God's judgment against these people who have been oppressed by their shepherds, those that should be their leaders.

And the Lord said,

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty [or Graciousness], and the other I called Bands [or Union]; and I fed the flock ( Zechariah 11:7 ).

So, the real flock of God, the Lord said, "I'm gonna drive out these idle shepherds. I'm gonna drive out these false shepherds, and I Myself will feed the flock. I'll take care of them." So He took these two staves, the one He called Beauty, the other He called Bands.

Now He said,

Three shepherds also I will cut off in one month ( Zechariah 11:8 );

The three shepherds, of course, being the prophets, the priests, and the rulers. "And I'm gonna cut them off in one month."

and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me ( Zechariah 11:8 ).

There was a mutual, not a mutual appreciation, but a mutual depreciation of each other. The Lord said, "They don't like Me, and I don't like them. So, they have loathed. My soul has loathed them, because they have abhorred Me."

Then I said, I will not feed you: that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD ( Zechariah 11:9-11 ).

Now Beauty, of course, is Jesus Christ, cut in sunder. With the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, God's covenant with the nation Israel was broken. Their place of standing in divine favor was cut off. Paul said, "Inasmuch as you've judged yourself unworthy of eternal life, I'm going to the Gentiles." God allowed blindness to happen to Israel at that point, for God's covenant was broken when Beauty was cut in sunder. God said He was gonna do it in order that the covenant might be broken.

So that covenant of the law whereby they were able to relate to God was broken, so that no longer can they relate to God by the law. But if they are going to relate to God, they're going to have to relate to God just like anybody else. For Paul tells us in Romans there is no difference; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and all are justified only through faith. You can only come to God now on the basis of faith, and the Jew has to come like the Gentile at the present time. There is no longer a covenant that God has that is valid with these people whereby through the law they can approach God. That covenant was invalidated when Beauty, Jesus Christ, was cut asunder. That is why Jesus said, "This cup is a new covenant in My blood which is shed for the remission of sins" ( Matthew 26:28 ). God established a new covenant with man, and in the establishing of the new covenant through Jesus Christ, the old covenant of the law was disallowed and is no longer a valid means of coming to God or fellowshipping with God. God will not accept their offerings under the old covenant.

The poor, of course, are the, as the Bible says concerning those who believe in Christ, "not many rich, not many noble, but God has chosen the weak things of the world, the poor," and the gospel is preached to the poor.

And I said unto them, If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD ( Zechariah 11:12-13 ).

What a remarkable prophecy concerning the betrayal of Jesus Christ and the being sold by Judas for thirty pieces of silver, the price whereby He was prized. Judas, it says, went to the high priest, and he said, "How much will you give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?" And they covenanted to give to him thirty pieces of silver. Here, of course, the Lord spoke of the price in advance.

But then He also spoke of the fact that the silver would be cast to the potter, and it would be cast down in the house of the Lord. When Judas Iscariot saw that they were crucifying Jesus, and of course, there are many who believe that Judas was not guilty of such a heinous crime as many people imagine. There are those that would lighten Judas' offense by saying that Judas was only trying to force the hand of Jesus. He got tired of waiting for Jesus to establish the kingdom. He was wanting to get the kingdom going, and so he thought, "Well, I'll just get the processes going here by selling Jesus to them, and then He's gonna have to prove His power, and then I'm gonna be prime minister, or the treasurer of the new state." Of course, John tells us that he held the purse, and he was, John tells us in the Greek that he was thieving out of the purse. So Judas Iscariot coveted, and then when he saw that his little plan failed, that is, his imagined plan, that people had imagined that he had, he came back, at least he saw when Jesus was being condemned, he came back and he brought the thirty pieces of silver, and he said, "Here I can't take it. I've betrayed innocent blood." They said, "What's that to us? It's your problem." So Judas took the thirty pieces of silver and just threw it on the floor, and went out, and he said, "It's your problem." He repented and hanged himself.

Now it was their problem, because it was used to purchase blood--blood money. They could not return it to the temple treasury. One of their little rules would not allow any blood money to go into the treasury. So they bought a potter's field to bury the strangers in the land. So the prophecy of Zechariah is fulfilled.

Now, what chance factors do you suppose are involved in this kind of prediction? Five hundred years before the event. How many men in history do you know that were betrayed by thirty pieces of silver? Off the top of your head, how many men can you think of in history who were betrayed by thirty pieces of silver?

Now of those men that you can think of, how many of them was the silver then brought back and thrown down in the house of the Lord? Then of those, how many subsequently was the silver used to buy a potter's field? You see, it sort of points to one person. It becomes a very interesting prophecy, and the chance factor of fulfillment is compounded because He adds these other aspects. There may be in history other people betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. That could be the ransom money paid, but yet, not many of them was the money then brought and thrown down on the temple floor, and even less, was the money then taken and used to purchase a potter's field. So it narrows it down from a broader spectrum to a very small area of the spectrum. I only know one man in history of which these three aspects were all three fulfilled.

So very interesting prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, and I'm interested in the attitude that the Lord has in this. Of course, this is all in advance, you know, this is 500 years before it happened. But God knew exactly what was going to happen, because God knows all things. The Lord looks on this rather scornfully, He said, "A good price that I was prized of by them." Willing to sell their Lord for thirty pieces of silver. That's all the value he had placed upon Him, selling out his relationship with the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

To me it is a tragic thing. We look and we have great disdain for Judas Iscariot that he would do such a dastardly thing, as selling out his Lord so cheaply. But yet, there are people, multitudes of people today who are just as guilty as Judas Iscariot. They are selling their relationship with God for the paltry offerings that the enemy offers to them. People are selling their souls for illicit relationships, the indulgence of their flesh. Selling their soul for pennies. Selling their relationship with God. Jesus asked the question, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" And I'm amazed at what people will give in exchange for their soul. I never cease to be amazed at how cheap people sell out. They forfeit their relationship with Jesus Christ over the most ridiculous things. Hey, you talk about the Spaniards and all taking advantage of the Indians and trading them these shiny beads for gold and all, I think of how Satan is holding up all these little glass beads and saying, "Hey, here, they're glitter. Look at how they shine! Look at the fun you can have, look at the excitement!" People are selling their souls so cheap, their relationship with God, selling their Lord. "A good price that I was prized of them," the Lord says, "cast it to the potter."

Now when Beauty was cut asunder then the other stave marked Union, the union that man had with God, that the Jews, Judah and Jerusalem had with God that also was broken, and that union of that nation with God was also, at that point, broken. They had rejected Beauty; they had rejected Jesus Christ. They'd sold Him. So God broke bands, the union, the brotherhood that He had between Judah and Israel.

Now having rejected the true Messiah, having rejected Beauty, as Jesus said, "I came in My Father's name you wouldn't receive Me. Another is gonna come in his own name, and him you're going to receive." So in verse Zechariah 11:15 , Zechariah predicts the coming of the antichrist, who, in the initial onset of his reign, they will acknowledge and worship as their Messiah.

And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd ( Zechariah 11:15 ).

They had rejected the true Shepherd. Jesus said, "I am the good Shepherd come down from heaven." But He was rejected. So the Lord said,

I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that are cut off, neither shall he seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that which is standing still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe unto that idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened ( Zechariah 11:16-17 ).

So here's an interesting prediction concerning the antichrist, the foolish idol shepherd that will come and be recognized by the Jews. Let me point out to you that the conditions are absolutely ripe in Israel today for this to happen. There are many of the rabbis in Israel that are predicting the coming of the Messiah very soon. But you ask the rabbis, "How will you know your Messiah? How will you know he is the true Messiah?" Invariably their answer will be, "He will build the temple. He will help us to build the temple."

Now, many of the Orthodox Jews, especially around the area of Measharim, believe Israel does not even have the right to exist as a nation until the Messiah comes. So they are anti-Zionists. But they are waiting for their Messiah. They believe that they will recognize him because he will help them to build the temple. Of course, that's exactly what the Bible says the antichrist is going to do. He's going to make a covenant with the people, but then he will break the covenant by coming to the temple and standing in it and declaring that he himself is God.

Now here the prediction concerning the antichrist is concerning this assassination attempt. We are given further information on this in the book of Revelation, chapter 13. When the antichrist does come on the world scene, he is going to be able to work miracles, marvelous miracles. He will be a financial wizard. He will be a master diplomat. He will be able to bring about very sensible, peaceful solutions for many of the world problems.

Right now in Europe there is a tremendous peace movement, and it is growing and will continue to grow. Demonstrations are taking place all over Europe. Not of hundreds of people, of thousands of people, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of people gathering together in these massive peace movements. They are one of the greatest threats to the security of Western Europe today. The antichrist is gonna come in on the crest of a peace movement. He's gonna come in with flattering words speaking peace, bringing answers and solutions for the turmoil that exists. Bringing marvelous answers to the economic woes.

Now, it was the economic problems of Germany that gave rise to Hitler. When your whole economy begins to just fall apart, government has totally failed, then the people in desperation are open to anybody who seems to have sensible, plausible answers. And they will follow even one as Hitler with all of his bizarre ideas, because he promises to the people the solutions. But it was the economic woes of Germany that laid the groundwork that Hitler can move in on it and to rise to this power. Those same economic problems developing now in Europe today, and the desire for peace will be the program, and the crest upon which the antichrist will move in.

Now, there will be an assassination attempt upon his life. It will appear for a time to be successful, but then he will miraculously survive this assassination attempt, according to Revelation, chapter 13.

Now here in Ezekiel we are told that as the result of this assassination attempt, he will be blinded in his right eye, and one of his arms will be withered. You say, "Oh great, we'll be able to identify the antichrist." Well, I don't hope to be here when he appears. If you're around, you can identify him if you want. But that which hinders, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit within the church, that which hinders shall hinder until He is taken out of the way, and then shall that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who will come forth with all kinds of lies and deceitfulness, working miracles and wonders.

So the church should not be here for the revelation of the antichrist. I'm not looking for the antichrist, I'm looking for Jesus Christ to come for me. I think it's a rather bizarre and twisted kind of an angle that Satan has people looking for the antichrist, trying to identify the antichrist, and looking for the antichrist, rather than looking for Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't say, "Look for the antichrist," He said, "When you see these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh" ( Luke 21:28 ). "Look for Me coming for you." We should be looking for Him. So, interesting prophecy in Zechariah concerning the antichrist.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Zechariah 11". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/zechariah-11.html. 2014.
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