Summary: Obey. Listen to His voice. Go where He sends, do what He says, accept what He gives and trust where He is taking. Even when the road is difficult. Because I know that with the Lord as my Shepherd, my good shepherd, the “Real” Good Shepherd
The (Real) Good Shepherd
Zech 11 October 26, 2008
I want to rewind a little bit in our study of Zechariah, before diving in to chapter 11. In our previous discussion, we’ve talked about how the exiles were returning from slavery and beginning the process of rebuilding their nation – physically rebuilding the temple, but also rebuilding the spiritual health and faith of the people. The complimentary book of Haggai focuses on the physical building of the temple, while Zechariah’s focus has been on not so much the physical rebuilding of the temple but on the temple as the centre of the spiritual life of the people – the temple as the place of worship, and worship as lifestyle of obedience. It has been about the whole renewal of faith, not just the building.
I want to begin with that rewind both because it sets the stage for the passage we are about to consider, but also because I see that in the ministry of our camp which Michael introduced to us just a few moments ago. Yes, there is a physical rebuilding component – and a significant one! Yet the ministry and the impact and the purpose of those physical structures is in the spiritual formation of the next generation of children and teens. God has repeatedly used the ministry of camps to significantly impact the lives of people – I have a number of theories on why this is something God likes to use for building His Kingdom, but I’ll save those for another time. Suffice it to say, for now, that we believe it is a ministry which is worth investing in. So even though we are raising money for our partners in Bolivia, have launched a campaign to do some needed maintenance on our own facility, and have encouraged attendance at the upcoming YoungLife dessert night fundraiser, we wanted to make you aware of this opportunity to give financially in a way that builds God’s Kingdom.
Back To Zechariah:
Coming back to Zechariah, and his goal of rebuilding the faith of a nation, we come to Zechariah 11. I came to my time of preparation and study, ready to dive in, and the very first thing I read (after reading the passage over numerous times in different translations), was this: “Zechariah 11 may be the most difficult and controversial chapter of the entire book… the most enigmatic passage in the whole Old Testament.” (Klein, Zechariah, NAC, p. 311. The first observation is his, the second quotes S.R. Driver). So I dove in, did my research and study, listened for the voice of the Holy Spirit, and am ready to share with you my interpretation and application of the passage. But I do so with this qualifier: my interpretation is by no means the only one, and I won’t take the time to dive in and try to answer all the questions and make sense of everything here. We’ll do our best, recognizing there is much more that could be explored.
Beginning with the (Real) Good Shepherd: (Jn 10:11-16)
We will read the chapter in a few moments, but that is not where I want to start in Scripture. We’ll see that Zechariah 11 is an allegory, with the prophet acting out a couple of roles – one is the “good” shepherd, then the “bad” shepherd. So before reading that, I want to go to Jesus’ words in John 10:11-16:
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
Why start there? Commentator Mark Boda writes, “Zechariah 11 was a key text for the early church’s understanding of Christ’s ministry.” (Haggai, Zechariah, NIV Application Commentary, p. 473). So I want to start with Jesus, recognizing Him in the role of the good shepherd, and then see the parallels as we read Zech 11.
Notice from John 10 the contrast already between Jesus (the good shepherd) and the “hired hand”: the good shepherd cares, is involved, takes ownership, protects, even with his very life; while the others are only in it for the money – they don’t really care, and so run at the first sign of trouble. We’ll see this same contrast, and a few more links to Jesus, next as we look into Zechariah 11.