REJECTED BY THE FLOCK
Lord, I am your willing servant. Speak to my heart now and let me, your servant, listen and obey.
Read Zechariah 11
Open your doors, Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!
2 Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen;
the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
the dense forest has been cut down!
3 Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!
4 This is what the Lord my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. 5 Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the Lord. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.”
7 So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. 8 In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.
The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them 9 and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”
10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.
12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.
14 Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.
15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves.
17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
May his arm be completely withered,
his right eye totally blinded!”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIf a nation had a king as good as Jesus, would they reject him? If a flock had a shepherd as good as Jesus, would they detest him?
This is a rich passage, with many familiar elements from the Gospels, but it is not the easiest to interpret in our context. What is clear is that the good shepherd of the previous chapter is rejected by the flock (‘The flock detested me,’ v 8).
As a result, he takes his two staffs– symbolically named Favor and Union – and he breaks the first (v 10). The flock of Israel has rejected its shepherd and so will have to live without the blessings of God’s favor (v 10). The shepherd asks what pay he will receive, and is given 30 pieces of silver, the value of a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). This insulting value is then thrown to the lower-class potters. Later, when Jesus was betrayed by his disciple and rejected by the shepherds of Israel, this was the price paid for him (see Matthew 26:14–16; 27:3–10).
Then he breaks the second staff (v 14). The union of the nation would dissolve, leading to the people of Israel being scattered across the world. Israel would be handed over, ultimately, to an evil shepherd who would tear them apart (vs 15–17). The consequences of rejecting the good shepherd would be huge for Israel.
Jesus is such a good shepherd. Pray for any of your friends or family who are currently rejecting him in their lives.
Loving Father, I pray for the leaders of my church. Make it their ambition, above all else, to please You.
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