Summary: How did Israel get into such trouble as revealed in Chapters 9 & 10? & as they are in presently? They invited such trouble upon themselves by following their false shepherds & rejecting their Messiah, the true Shepherd, when He first came to lead them.
ZECHARIAH 11: 1-10- (17)
THE TRUE SHEPHERD REJECTED or TRUE AND FALSE SHEPHERDS
Zechariah means whom the Lord remembers and as his name indicates he is strikingly a prophet of hope and glory. His visions have spanned the centuries to bring us the encouraging hope of future deliverance by the coming of the Deliverer and King. By giving people insight into the future purposes of God, they were enabled to rise above the discouragements and baffling circumstances of their own day.
So now this prophet of hope and glory, since he is also a prophet of truth and reality, glimpses the fearful episode of Israel and the nations apostasy demonstrated in their rejection of the Good Shepherd (Zech. 11:1-4) and their acceptance of the Worthless Shepherd (11:15-17).
For there is great sorrow and woe because of the world’s refusing to accept the True Shepherd-Messiah at His first coming and will be again its taking up with the False Shepherd during the time of great woe before the second advent of the Messiah.
Tonight, let us hear and heed the Word of God and learn to distinguish between true and false shepherds and apply the Word to ourselves personally to see how we are measuring up to the church’s task of shepherding.
I. THE PASTURE DEVASTATED, 11: 1-3
II. THE SELFISH SHEPHERD, 11:4 -10
III. THE GOOD SHEPHERD REJECTED, 11:11-14
IV. THE EVIL SHEPHERD ACCEPTED, 11:15-17
Chapters 9 and 10 reveal that Israel will be in trouble in the last days until the Messiah comes to rescue them and establish His earthly kingdom. How did they get into such trouble? They invited such trouble upon themselves by following their false shepherds and rejecting their Messiah, the true Shepherd, when He first came to lead them.
The tragedy of this dark chapter is struck in the opening verses which form a prelude to the sinister events foretold. The stirring language is crouched in words of rhetoric and poetic imagery.
I. THE PASTURE DEVASTATED, 1-3
In verses 1 & 2 Zechariah announces that trouble is coming. "Open your doors, O Lebanon, that a fire may feed on your cedars. Wail, O fir, for the cedar has fallen. Because the glorious (trees) have been destroyed; Wail, O oak of Bashan, for the impenetrable forest has come down."
In vivid and striking terms the prophet begins by addressing Mt. Lebanon. This impressive mountain is over 14,000 feet and its highest ridge is perpetually snow capped. The mountain is not only addressed as a person or animate being but figuratively as a fortress or fortified city as is Bashan. Bashan was in the northern part of the territory across the Jordan river bordering Lebanon on the north (Ps. 68:15, 1 Chron. 5:23) today it is known as the Golan Heights. [It was allotted to the half tribe of Manasseh (Num. 21:33-35; 32:33; Jos. 13:29-30; 17:5).]
Because of Lebanon’s height and inaccessible position it is likened to a mountain citadel which is so defiantly doomed to destruction by fire that it may as well forget all thoughts of defense and resistance and open its doors and let the fire enter and consume its beautiful cedars. The humbler fir or cypress is commanded to wail over the fall of the great and mighty cedar. In Scripture, when the higher have fallen, the lower are often bidden to take up a lament because if the mightier are not spared the downfall of the more defenseless is assured.
Bashan was renowned for its splendid forest of oaks (Isa. 2:13, Ezek. 27:6). The forest of Lebanon, because of its rocky height, steep slope and thickness of growth, is called inaccessible (or impenetrable-walled). The prophet addresses Bashan’s famous oaks and dramatically commands them to wail (lament, howl, cry out) as he did the firs of Lebanon. If you have ever been in a forest and heard the wind rushing through the trees it can sound like wailing. The fire of God would fall on the forests of Lebanon which furnished timbers for the temples (1 Kings 5:6).
The leaders, represented by shepherds and lions are addressed in verse 3. "There is the sound of the shepherds’ wail, for their glory is ruined; there is the sound of the young lions roar, for the pride of the Jordan is ruined."
The "shepherds" are heard howling like an animal, yelling out in distress over their great lost. For not only the forests but the lush green pasture land where they were accustomed to tending their flocks (Deut. 32:14, Ezek. 39:18) and make their livelihood are destroyed. The crackling fire has spread its devouring and consumed the glory or splendor of the land.
The jungle like growth that adorns the narrow Jordan valley because of its moisture grew willows, tamarisk, cane and luxuriant grasses and was a favorite haunt of lions until 1200 A.D. In this river valley the lions roar is heard. Young lions have an almost insatiable appetite (Judg. 14:5, Ps. 17:12, 104:21) and when their habitat and lairs are destroyed so are their food and home. Nothing in the world is so disastrous as the sin of pride.