Trouble for Israel's Enemies
1 Lebanon, open your gates! Let the fire come in to destroy your cedar trees.
2 Cry, you cypress trees! The glorious cedars have fallen and are rotting.
Cry, you oak trees of Bashan! The dense forest has been chopped down.
3 Listen! Shepherds are crying.
Their glorious pastures have been ruined.
Listen! Lions are roaring.
The forests of the Jordan Valley are no more to be found.
4 The Lord my God said to me:
Tend those sheep doomed for slaughter! 5 The people who buy and butcher them go unpunished, while everyone who sells them says, “Praise the Lord! I'm rich.” Not even their shepherds have pity on them.
6 Tend those sheep because I, the Lord, will no longer have pity on the people of this earth. I'll turn neighbor against neighbor and make them slaves of a king. They will bring disaster on the earth, and I'll do nothing to rescue any of them.
7 So I became a shepherd of those sheep doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep dealers. And I gave names to the two sticks I used for tending the sheep: One of them was named “Mercy” and the other “Unity.” 8 In less than a month, I became impatient with three shepherds who didn't like me, and I got rid of them. 9 Then I said, “I refuse to be your shepherd. Let the sheep that are going to die, go on and die, and those that are going to be destroyed, go on and be destroyed. Then let the others eat one another alive.”
10 On that same day, I broke the stick named “Mercy” to show that the Lord had canceled his agreement with all people. 11 The sheep dealers who saw me knew at once that this was a message from the Lord. 12-13 I told them, “Pay me my wages, if you think you should; otherwise, forget it.” So they handed me my wages, a measly 30 pieces of silver.
Then the Lord said, “Throw the money into the treasury.” So I threw the money into the treasury at the Lord's temple. 14 Then I broke the stick named “Unity” and canceled the ties between Judah and Israel.
15 Next, the Lord said to me, “Act like a shepherd again—this time a worthless shepherd. 16 Once more I am going to let a worthless nobody rule the land—one who won't care for the strays or search for the young or heal the sick or feed the healthy. He will just dine on the fattest sheep, leaving nothing but a few bones.”
17 You worthless shepherd, deserting the sheep!
I hope a sword will cripple your arm and blind your right eye.
Cedar, fir tree, and oak, all represent the prominent leaders. Continuing from the previous chapter, the leaders of the people are reproached one more time. They sell the flock of God for money and enrich themselves, but they have no pity for them. They buy and slay the flock, but do not feel guilty. God would not have sympathy on these inhabitants of the land. This is shown in the following verses (6-14).
The Lord took two staves, and He named one stick as Pleasantness, which can be translated also as Delightfulness, Grace, or Beauty. It is named in terms of the pleasantness shown in His favor. But the Lord broke the staff with which He was leading the flock. Verse 10 says, He broke the staff to illustrate that the covenant between Him and His people was broken. In verse 14, the other staff that He took was also broken. He named it Union or Bond. By breaking it, God showed that the brotherhood covenant between Judah and Israel was broken.
As “Grace” is broken, our vertical relationship with God is broken. As the “Union” is broken, our horizontal relationship with people around us is broken. When you and I leave the Lord and do not follow Him wholly, our relationships will come asunder in many of the aspects of life.
Zechariah 11:12-13 is quoted in the Gospels as a prophecy being fulfilled by Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (see Matt 26:15; 27:3-10). God asked the people in Zechariah: Give My price, and they weighed 30 pieces of silver. Therefore God tells Zechariah that it was the value with which they prized Me. They evaluated the Lord their God to be worth 30 silver shekels (little over $12). As we read in Matt 26 and 27, it was the price of Jesus’ life valued by Judas and the high priest, which was the customary price of a slave.
What is the price you estimate for the Lord? Are you also going to value 30 pieces of silver for your Lord and eternal life? Jesus mentions in Mark 10, the ones who give up their house, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, and land for His sake, shall inherit the eternal life in the world to come.
In the last part of the chapter, the leaders receive a severe rebuke, compared to an unfaithful shepherd. He does not visit those who are cut off nor does he heal the broken ones. The ones who are strong enough to stand, he does not nourish them to grow, and he eats the flesh of the fat ones to fill himself. They are called the “worthless shepherd.” God is very unhappy with them. “Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock!”
Let us value the Lord with all we have and with all our being, as He has valued us. Let us love the Lord supremely above all, as He has loved us.
Do you, by any means, count yourself as a leader? Then know that God asks of you true revival and reformation for this season of time.
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea