Lord, I am your willing servant. Speak to my heart now and let me, your servant, listen and obey.
Read ZECHARIAH 11:4–17
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10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.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.
‘God has entrusted [pastors] with his most precious treasure – people. He asks us to shepherd and mold them into strong disciples, with brave faith and good character.’1
Zechariah here plays the role of two shepherds over God’s people, one good (vs 4–14), one bad (‘foolish’, vs 15–17). The good shepherd uses two staffs to guide the sheep into God’s blessing and keep them together as a flock (‘Favor’ and ‘Union’, v 7). He dismisses ‘the three shepherds’ (v 8). It is impossible to identify these with any certainty, but they might stand for the leaders (prophets, priests, and kings) who led Israel and Judah astray. Unlike them, Zechariah represents a shepherd who seeks the people’s welfare, but they reject him and treat him with contempt. They estimate his service to them at a mere 30 pieces of silver (the replacement value of a slave gored by an ox).2 This amount was so low that God says to throw it to the potter at the Temple (potters were in the lowest social class).
There is an obvious reference here to Jesus Christ, who ‘came to his own people, but they didn’t want him’.3 Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, which the traitor Judas later threw down in the Temple. The chief priests used that silver to buy the potter’s field for use as a cemetery.4 Jesus’ rejection by his own people was instigated by their religious leaders, whose opposition to Jesus and therefore to God likens them to the foolish shepherd of verses 15–17. Their self-interested leadership brings disaster upon the whole flock (vs 4–6,15–17).
Yesterday’s passage reminded us to pray for those in authority. Today’s impresses upon us the need to intercede for our spiritual leaders to practice a ministry characterized by faithfulness to God and his Word and sacrificial love for his flock.
Jesus is the model for Christian leadership. Pray that Christlikeness may characterize the church’s pastors, endowing them with a good balance between tender loving care and Biblical standards of discipline.
Loving Father, I pray for the leaders of my church. Make it their ambition, above all else, to please you.
1 John Ortberg, www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2007/july-online-only/102605.html 2 Exod 21:32 3 John 1:11, The Message 4 Matt 26:15; 27:3–7
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