Today: [Zecheriah 11] Zecheriah’s Vision of Beauty and Bands. Chapter 11 of Zecheriah looks forward 500 years from Zecheriah’s day to see the temple destroyed and the city of Jerusalem sacked by the Romans, all surrounding and brought on by the Jewish rejection of the Messiah.
[Zec 11:1-17 KJV] 1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 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. 3 [There is] a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled. 4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed [be] the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. 6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’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]. 7 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, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give [me] my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty [pieces] of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty [pieces] of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, [even] Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. 15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, [which] shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. 17 Woe to the 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.
Chapter 11 of Zecheriah is a poem written in the form of a taunt against the religious system that rejected Christ in the first century. It also speaks in overtones relating to the supremacy and downfall of the anti-Christ and the Babylon religious system in the last days. The reference to Lebanon and the destruction of her cedars by fire speaks of the construction of Herod’s temple in AD 70 when the Romans invaded by way of the north, through Lebanon to sack the city of Jerusalem and destroy the temple in the midst thereof.
In verse 3 there is mention of the voice of the shepherds, or religious leaders howling in protest because the jewel of their accomplishments, the temple that was built through their flatteries of king Herod, a Roman appointee, would be totally destroyed, which in fact happened. These prophesies at this time by Zecheriah are significant to the people because they are building a restoration version of the temple in their day and now Zecheriah is prophesying that for all their work and effort destruction will once again come upon the city and the temple because of the future rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.
Because of the future prediction of the Roman invasion and overthrow of the nation of Judah, Zecheriah calls the people a flock destined for slaughter, by those who will not hold themselves guilty, but rather will consider themselves blessed of the Lord. In truth, there was much scholarship in the Roman empire regarding an ancient version of what the United States calls “manifest destiny”, the belief that the gods of the earth had ordained, favored and directed that Rome dominate the earth and subjugate the masses. The pretense Zecheriah predicts (v. 7) is that the Romans will observe how badly the Jews treat one another and take it as a sign that they themselves can overthrow the nation without holding themselves guilty because of the lack of good order in Jewish society at the time. This is found to be true when one studies the history and events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. For centuries the Jews up to the time of Jesus enjoyed protected status among the subjugated nations of the Roman Empire. However, when the Jews stirred persecution against the burgeoning Christian sect in the first century, they were dismay to see that not only did the Romans rise up to persecute the followers of Christ, they also brutalized the non-believing Jewish populations as well. This is all borne out and recorded in the histories of the first through the third centuries after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Zecheriah as a type of the coming Messiah is told to take two staves, or staffs and name one Beauty and the other, Bands. These actually mean “favor” and “union”. He is speaking prophetically of the time of upheaval that came surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in the first century and answering the question “where is God if He is going to allow this to happen?” The answer is that He will be found in the midst of the first century Christian church that will be unified in Christ and favored by God to go forward from the furnace of persecution in the 1st and 2nd centuries to see the might of Rome bow the knee at the foot of the cross in the 3rd century.
Because of the rejection of the Messiah, v. 8 tells us that three shepherds, or three leadership institutions will be cut off in one month. This is exactly what happened in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed and the institutions of prophet – priest and king were completely wiped out of Jewish culture, leaving only the vestiges of the synagogue system to give them some semblance of cultural continuance among the nations where they were scattered. Zecheriah then takes the staff representing the favor of God and broke it in the presence of the people gathered to receive his words, so that they would know that the day would come that the favor of God would radically lift off of the Jewish people for the specific reason that they rejected the Messiah who would be sent to them in the first century in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To give testimony to the Messianic portents of the passage, there is mention in v. 12 of the price of Judas’ betrayal of Christ for 30 pieces of silver and in v. 13 of the money being eventually used to purchase the potter’s fields. In this time v. 14 says that the fraternity among the tribes of Israel would be completely dissolved, and in fact it came in the centuries after the discernment that Judaism shifted from being extracted from a definable race, to a social ethnicity based on religious belief rather than any provable genetic connection to the lineage of Abraham.
Verse 15 then points to the day when “a foolish shepherd” would rise up and show no mercy or interest in the marginalized peoples, who would not care for the young, nor heal the broken, which this foolish shepherd represents the coming of the anti-Christ whom the Jews will initially accept, in contrast to the true Messiah whom they crucified. Yet verse 17 promises the hand of God will be against this false shepherd (described as an idol shepherd) whose arm will be cut off and his right eye put out by the hand of God moving to redeem His people Israel.
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