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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

Zechariah 11



Verses 1-17

THE PROPHETIC STRAIN now ceases, and we have to come back in chapter 11 to the actual condition of things among the people to whom Zechariah spoke. The solemn words of governmental judgments here uttered might seem to us strange, had we not the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which show us the sad departure into flagrant law-breaking which marked the masses of the people, whilst outwardly temple and city were being rebuilt. The prophet foresaw the times of trouble that would come upon the people, when they would still be under the heel of various Gentile powers, and the really godly are designated as the margin of verse Zechariah 11:7 reads, 'the flock of slaughter, verily the poor of the flock'.

Commencing with this seventh verse we find the prophet himself beginning to act in a symbolic way as well as speak God's message. He took the two staves, called respectively, 'Beauty' and 'Bands'. Though the poor of the flock were to be fed. the others were to be left, and the shepherds who might have fed them were cut off. We may not be able to say to whom the 'three shepherds' referred, yet the drift of this judgment is plain. While the poor of the flock should be fed, the ungodly majority lost the worldly leaders who might have fed them.

It would appear that in this remarkable incident of the two staves the prophet is led to impersonate the Messiah Himself. His first action was to break the staff called 'Beauty', as a sign that God's covenant 'with all the people', was broken. The word here is in the plural, 'peoples', and we may turn back to Genesis 49:10, where the word had previously occurred in the plural — 'until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be'. The staff 'Beauty' was broken as a sign that there would be no fulfilment to the unbelieving generation, for when Messiah came in lowliness and not in outward splendour, they would see 'no beauty that we should desire Him' (Isaiah 53:2).

This was followed by the remarkable actions recorded in verses Zechariah 11:12-13, which prophetically set forth the terrible actions of Judas Iscariot. Matthew 27:3-8, records how accurately this prediction was fulfilled. Messiah, who was the embodiment of all beauty was priced at thirty pieces of silver. Judas who fixed the price and got the silver, before committing suicide in his remorse, cast the money down in the temple, thus fulfilling the words, 'in the house of the Lord'; while the chief priests took the silver and used it to buy the potter's field, thus fulfilling the words, 'I... cast them to the potter'.

The breaking of the second staff followed. If beauty be broken by the rejection of the Messiah, the bands that linked together Judah and Israel were necessarily broken.

Christ is the Centre of unity for God's earthly people, just as He is the Centre of unity for the church today. We may therefore see a word of warning and instruction for ourselves in what we have before us. Christendom is much occupied today in efforts to achieve unity, realizing what great power might be wielded by a unified church. Do they recognize that Christ in His beauty must be the Centre of all their thoughts and efforts? If His beauty be broken in their thoughts and efforts, everything in the way of bands will be broken as well.

Having first acted as impersonating the true Shepherd of Israel, the prophet is now bidden so to act as to impersonate the false one. who is to come, as a direct result of the government of God in retribution upon the people. What were the 'instruments' of a foolish shepherd we are not told, but what will mark the false one we are plainly told in verse 16. First, there are four things that he will not do. We quote from Darby's New Translation. He 'shall not visit those that are about to perish:' and again, 'neither shall seek that which is strayed away:' and again, 'nor heal that which is wounded:' and once more, 'nor feed that which is sound'.

Readers and writer alike will at once be saying, Why, these four things which the false shepherd does not do, are exactly those which the true shepherd does' in abundant and perfect measure. False shepherds there were before the true One came, as He indicated in John 10:10, John 10:12, but Zechariah is predicting the coming of that antichrist, of whom the Lord spoke when He said, 'if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive' (John 5:43). This 'idol', or 'worthless' shepherd will be raised up of God in judgment upon the people, 'in the land', as verse Zechariah 11:16 says: that is, he will not be some worldly king in the Gentile world, but the false messiah in Palestine — the second 'beast' of Revelation 13:1-18, rather than the first.

Here then is a striking exhibition of the governmental ways of God. The unconverted Jew would not have the true Shepherd, when He came in grace: then they shall have the false, who shall feed himself on their 'fat', and tear them unmercifully, though ultimately he will be destroyed in judgment as verse Zechariah 11:17 declares. For the ungodly in Israel the final raising up of the 'idol shepherd', will mean the terrors of the great tribulation.


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Zechariah 11:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

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