In this message, there are two different kinds of shepherds. The first would be rejected by God, because they had rejected Him. The second demonstrates how God would give over His people to evil shepherds. When the people refused to follow God, He turned them over to worthless shepherds – leaders.
Verse 1 – Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars.
Verse 2 – Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has come down.
Open your gates (doors) may refer to the temple, because the timber used to build the temple was from Lebanon, which suggests that the leadership is that of religious authority.
Verse 3 – There is the sound of wailing shepherds! For their glory is in ruins, there is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of the Jordan is in ruins.
Verse 4 – Thus says the LORD my God, “Feed the flock for slaughter,
Verse 5 – “whose owners slaughter them and feel no guilt; those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD, for I am rich’; and their shepherds do not pity them.
God told Zechariah to take a job as a shepherd of a flock of sheep being fattened for slaughter. The flock represented the people feeding on their own greed and evil desires until they were ripe for God’s judgment.
Verse 6 – “For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the land,,” says the LORD. “But indeed I will give everyone into his neighbor’s hand and into the hand of his king. They shall attack the land, and I will not deliver them from their hand.”
Verse 7 – So I fed the flock for slaughter, in particular the poor flock, I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bonds; and I fed the flock.
These verses moved to the future when the Jews rejected the Messiah. God gave them over to feuds and Roman rule. The Zealots and other factious Jews expelled and slew one another by turns at the last invasion by Rome. Jehovah implies that these sheep were not fed, the fault rests solely with you, because ye rejected the grace of God.
Verse 8 – I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.
If the Jews had accepted the Messiah, they would have had prophet, priest, and King all in one shepherd, Jesus. This would have made them spiritual prophets, priests, and kings to God. Refusing Christ, they lost all three in a sense.
Verse 9 – Then I said, “I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, and what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other’s flesh.”
Verse 10 – And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I made with all the peoples.
Verse 11 – So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD.
The poor flock – the humble, godly remnant knew by this event, the truth of this prediction and of the Messiah’s mission. The disciples were forewarned when they would see the city compassed with armies.
Verse 12 – Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for me my wages thirty pieces of silver.
Thirty pieces of silver is what was paid to an owner for a slave gored by an ox. Judas received thirty pieces of silver to betray the Messiah, so Christ was sold for the price of a slave.
Verse 13 – And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter” – that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.
Potters were the lowest social class. “That princely price,” is a sarcastic comment. Thirty pieces of silver were given to Judas, but he returned it to the temple, threw it on the floor of the temple and it was used to buy a potter’s field (Matthew 27:3-10).
Verse 14 – Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Not long after Zechariah’s time, the Jews began to divide into numerous factions – Pharisees, Sadducee’s, Essene’s, Herodians, and Zealots. The discord among these groups was a key factor leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple in A.D. 70.
Verse 15 – And the LORD said to me, “Next take for yourself the implements of a foolish shepherd.
Verse 16 – “For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces.
Verse 17 – “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm and against his right arm and against his right eye; his arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded.”
His arm represents military might and the right eye, intellect. God’s people had rejected the true Messiah, so they would have a shepherd who cared only for themselves.
When people reject the Son, they get led astray by evil desires. How could the Jewish people reject the Messiah that had been written and spoken about from the beginning? The same way people reject Him today – evil hearts. The Bible has written God’s master plan all out in plain view for anyone who will read it. All God’s predictions have come to pass up to the Book of Revelation. So what makes people think God is not going to follow through with the predictions that are written there?