Ps. 101:1 will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I sing (also Ps. 25:10). This is indeed a strange thing to sing about. We hear many songs about His mercy, but here we have David singing of his judgment against sin. This would be not only judgment against sin in our lives. How many of us could sing this kind of song? (See message on Ps. 101:1, 8/6/89, P.M..)
Here in Zech. 11, the theme changes from the mercy of chp. 10, to judgment. As we mentioned back in the introduction, this book has two purposes. 1.) To encourage on to faithfulness. Those who believe God from their innermost being, yet do not see the promised blessing taking place. 2.) To speak to those who joined with the faithful, yet had no heart conviction, they were identified with the people of God for their own profit.
In chp. 10, Zechariah had given many exciting and tremendous promises. Now he "changes years" in chp. 11. He does this to prevent his hearers from having a false security. Each of us would love to live exclusively in chp. 10, yet God does not leave us there. Chp. 10 is addressed to the faithful (Judah, Joseph, Ephraim), now He is going to address those who might be over-confident. He has presented a beautiful picture, now he is going to show the dark side.
The Lord moves from one extreme (glorious mercy) to the other (terrible wrath and judgment). He goes this to prevent any false security. When mercy is emphasized, folks become secure in their sin. When judgment is emphasized, folks become secure in their sin. When judgment is emphasized, folks become defeated and discouraged. One is as bad as the other.
Probably the hardest thing we have to do if we are in any position of authority, is to keep mercy and judgment balanced. God does it, and so did our Lord when He was here. He gives us His inspired word and His Holy Spirit to understand His word which will enable us to have this balance also (Ja. 1:5).
We could almost say here in chp. 11, that Zechariah, is speaking with "dark, hidden saying," yet, as we look closer, comparing Scripture with Scripture and looking back upon history, we see that he is speaking in terms easily understood. If we do not look closer, we will miss completely what is being said here.
Before we go much into this passage, we first need to identify Lebanon. In chp. 10:10, we see Gilead and Lebanon as the restored home of Ephraim. Now in 11:1, the doors of Ephraim's home is opened to the devouring fire.
Open the doors... This is interesting. The indication here is dwelling safely behind strong, closed doors, yet they are opened (against the will of those dwelling in safety here, Ps. 127:1).
As we look at this prophecy let us be reminded first of all, that prophecy is marked from the time it is being written or spoken, not from the time it is being read. The other thing we need to understand is this. We fail to realize the importance of the destruction of Jerusalem to Bible prophecy. No doubt that because of modern day Eschatology and the desire to remain true to the teachings of Dispensationalism as presented by J.N. Darby, this destruction is avoided like the plague (either intentionally, or, unintentionally), by a very large portion of modern day scholars. I really can't answer why. I do know that there was very little emphasis if any, placed on this horrendous event when I was in school.
The destruction was probably one of the most prophesied events of all Scripture other than the coming of Christ. The two are tied together very closely. When studying prophecy, this event MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. It was the destruction of all of the OT world and system and method of approach to worship God. We dare not overlook this event. To do so will permit a whose wrong view of, Bible prophecy. Every seeking Bible student should read Josephus account of this destruction.
V. 1, now the prophet appears to be looking ahead, about 500 years to Christ, with v. 1, speaking of the burning of Jerusalem, 73 A.D..
Isa. 37:24; Jer. 22:6, 7; Ezek. 17:3-12. These passages clearly show us the connection between Lebanon and Jerusalem. The cedars of Lebanon, of course, represents the glory of Lebanon. Those cedars were used to enhance the pride of Israel, Jerusalem and the temple, (See I Ki. 10:27).
Now, Zechariah had been telling of the glories of the mercy of God through the Messiah. Now he is telling of the judgment of God, as God opens the doors to Lebanon, that devouring fire may destroy the glory of the nation, Jerusalem and the temple.
Josephus makes an extremely interesting (and important), observation here. (b 6. 5.3) He points out at the feast of unleavened bread, at about the sixth hour of the night the Eastern gate of the inner court of the temple (made of brass, very heavy and difficult to shut, requiring twenty men to do so), opened of its own accord. Men of learning understood this as the gate opening for the advantage of their enemies.
Pusey, quotes a tradition which said that this opening of the gate was in fulfillment of Zech. 11:1. He also adds that the temple was burned exactly forty years after the death of Christ. (Barnes' Notes, Minor Prophets, II, pg. 420).
All of this sure appears to fit together, showing us that God opened the door according to Zech. 11:1 for the enemy to move against the pride and glory of Judah-Jerusalem and the temple.
There are a couple of good points here. One being quite obvious, except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain, Ps. 127:1. No matter what kind of plans or how much money is spent, if the Lord is not guarding the city, all efforts are wasted.
Second and to me, probably the more important, the pride and glory of Judah, the temple, was opened to the enemies. The gate was very heavy, requiring twenty men to operate it. Evidently, the walls being stone and the gate brass, all precautions had been made for safety from any power who would seek to enter, unauthorized. Yet, it opened of its own accord (the Lord opened it), leaving us with this conclusion. No matter how many or what kind of plans are made by men in their rebellion against God, they are open to Him. He can open up the most elaborate plans of sinful men to their enemies or to His judgment of His good pleasure. Men's wicked devices only work as He allows them to work.
These Jews in Zechariah's day were rebuilding these strong points of the glory of Judah. The prophet is reminding and warning them that all of this worldly strength is useless without the Lord of host's protection and keeping upon their efforts. Zechariah is calling this people to heart-felt obedience to God or the gates will be opened.
Men become confident in what they are able to accomplish. God here is pointing out that there is no confidence and security apart from Him.
For us? It doesn't matter what effort is being made by the ungodly to lock out God or to go on in their own way apart from God, the gate will open one day. Their own way apart from God, the gate will open one day. Their enemy will move against them. Their pride and glory will be burned. They will howl because all of their might is spoiled. The Lord will move against the ungodly in His good time. All of their precautions and might will be useless.
Whether it is the individual which has made the preparation and is secure in his sin and rebellion or an group of individuals, society, their plans are useless before the Lord. Isa. 10:32-11:1, also refers to this destruction.
V. 2. The prophet carries on the same thought. V. 1, the temple will be destroyed by fire. V. 2. All of the mighty ones around the temple are destroyed also. The great sorrow over this destruction sure fits in with Rev. 18:18, 19, which also describes the destruction of Jerusalem.
V. 3 carries on the thought. Those who enjoyed the high-life off of God's people and the Jewish religion were devastated at this destruction. (See our study in Matt. 24.) There are a tremendous amount of OT Scriptures condemning the false shepherds. Our Lord came and personally confronted the false shepherds with Jn. 10, a very strong inditement against them.
This passage here in Zech. 11 is against these false shepherds, for telling the destruction of everything that has to do with their religion with which they held the people in bondage.
Feed the flock... Zechariah spoke to the flock which was destine
for slaughter. Just a few years before the horrible slaughter,
Christ also spoke to them. He attempted to feed the flock which
was headed for the slaughter. Rather than eat of the table which
He prepared, they rejected Him. Slaughter was the next step, Matt.
There is an important point here. When the true Shepherd is rejected, the sheep are given over to the false shepherds. The true shepherd, through His law-word, desires to lead His people in the way of life. When folks reject that, then He gives them over to the desire of their own heart and they follow the false shepherds who lead them down the path to slaughter. (We might also point out that the true Shepherd protects His flock from the false shepherds through His word and the false shepherds are exposed.)
The natural man hates the law of God and will choose the regulations of man any day over the law of God. I heard some place that there are 41,000 regulations upon a piece of beef from the time it leaves the place where it is raised until it is sold at a fast food place as a hamburger. It is indeed strange that people would rather be ruled by rooms full of man-made regulations than by a few simple principles of God's law.
Thus, the false shepherds will retain their control over the people until there is heart return in the people to the God of Scripture and His word as their final authority. It is impossible to have a godly, moral civil government without a godly, moral people.
The false shepherds lead the people to slaughter because the people have rejected the true Shepherd and have chosen to follow the false. Reject God, His law-word, His Son, and the natural result is false shepherds raised up, leading to the slaughter.
V. 5 is another interesting verse. Jeremiah spoke along this line, 2:3. As Israel was holy before God, all who came against him was coming against the Lord. Evil shall come upon them.
The Lord is delivering this as a warning. God blessed and prospered them. They then forsook the Lord.
Verses 5 and 6 contains an important prophecy (which has been fulfilled). Let's look at an simple outline here and then fill in the points.
1. V. 4, the flock is destine for slaughter, with no hope of God's mercy, v. 6.
2. V. 5, those who are over them (their possessors) are going to do the slaughtering. They will not be quilt before the Lord. The people have sinned and God has sent the judgment.
3. V. 5, for the first time in the history of this Hebrew nation, they will be sold into slavery. Always before they had been carried as a group into captivity.
4. V. 5. Those who sell them will be made rich from their selling.
5. V. 5. Those who are suppose to be their shepherds will have no pity for them. God had entrusted His flock to these men. They lead the flock away from God, God sends the destroyer against them and these shepherds don't have any pity for them.
6. V. 6. The Lord Himself has no more pity for the inhabitants of the land.
7. V. 6. The Lord delivers the inhabitants totally and completely to the desire of the invading army to do with as they see fit. There is no restriction or answering to God placed upon them as there was on Babylon. There is absolutely no mercy extended by the Lord toward the inhabitants as there was when Babylon moved against them. The very worse cruelty imaginable is now permitted by God against these inhabitants with no MERCY ADDED BY GOD AT ALL.
Notice the parallel here with Rev. 14:10. Rev. 16:6, identifies the people whom are receiving this wrath as Jerusalem, Matt. 23:24.
Let's move on to Jer. 50:6, 7. They followed the false shepherds
away from God and His resting place, His Son and His law, Matt.
11:28, 29. The result now is that their enemies who are seeking
to devour them are not coming against the Lord as they did in
Her. 2:3, but are now coming in obedience to the Lord (Jer. 40:2).
As we follow Jer. 50 on through, we find that God's wrath against
Babylon wasn't because they moved against Zion, but because they
rejoiced and were glad, v. 11. This pride against the Lord brought
the vengeance of the Lord against Babylon, 50:29; 51:11. Their
cruelty as they carried out God's will was their downfall.
Now, Jeremiah's prophecy is given before (and is about) the captivity, whereas Zechariah's is after the Babylonian captivity. Zechariah is speaking about what was yet to come, and did after they killed Christ.
But the important thing for us to see is this. When God's people turn from Him and His law-word, the enemies of God move against them in obedience to God as the chastening of His anger, Isa. 10:5. Is this not exactly what Heb. 12:6-11 says?
Today we are seeing a terrible move by the antichrist crowd against God's people (as well as against society in general). This movement has gained power as God's people have turned from God's word as their rule for every thought and action.
With the above principle in mind, we must conclude that the moves against God's people are at the command of the Lord. Let us add though, that those folks who are sincerely trying to apply God's word to every area and the ungodly move against them, they are moving against God. The ungodly are obeying God as they move against those who ignore the law-word of God.
Which are they?
The victors slay them and are not held guilty, and they that sell them say, blessed be the Lord; for I am rich. When the Jews were overrun by Assyria and Babylon, they were deported and not sold.
Their captors saw themselves as moving in obedience to the Lord. Zechariah is speaking after these captivities, looking forward to the Roman destruction. The destruction which Zechariah is calling for calls for the Jews to be sold by their captors. This will be the first (and last) time in their history that this had happened to them.
Josephus makes some very interesting observations in regard to the prophecy of Zechariah here. See Wars, B6.9. (We have discussed these elsewhere.) These are easily placed into the outline above of vv. 4-6.
1. When Titus took the upper city and saw the strength of its towers, he said, "We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what could the hands of men, or any machines, do toward overthrowing these towers!"
When Titus demolished the rest of the city, and overthrew its walls, he left these towers as a monument to the aid he had to take a city which could not have otherwise been taken. (See also, Wars, B. 5.1.3.)
2. The Roman soldiers grew quite tired of killing men, yet there was a vast multitude still remaining alive. Therefore, Caesar gave orders to kill only those who were bearing arms in opposition to Rome. The rest were to be taken alive. They slew the aged, infirmed, robbers and seditious. The tallest and most beautiful were reserved for their triumphal march back to Rome. The rest who were over seventeen years old were placed in bonds and sent to the Egyptian mines.
This selling them into Egyptian slavery was in fulfillment of prophecy. Deut. 28:68; Jer. 44:7; Hos. 8:13; 9:3; 11:35.
A great number of the Jewish captives were sent to the Roman provinces as gifts to be used in their theaters.
Those who were under seventeen were sold as slaves.
3. The number slaughtered here is vast, almost beyond our imagination. Just the ones who were slaughtered in this seven year siege was almost fourteen hundred thousand.
What happened is that at the time of their yearly passover, men from every nation gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate it (in accord with the OT law). The number given as to the total present in Jerusalem when the gates were shut by the Jewish shepherds and the siege begun by the Romans ranges from 2, 565,000 to 3,000,000. Probably closer to 2,700,000 (notes on J. Bk. 6.9.3). No doubt this huge number of healthy men gave the leaders of the Jews confidence that they could hold off Rome. This is a pretty good size army in any mans book. Of course divine providence destroyed everything which they had placed their confidence in. To quote Josephus, "Which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together [the law prohibited eating the passover lamb alone, my note], amounts to two millions seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy; for as to those that have the leprosy, or the gonorrhea, or women that have their monthly course, or such as are otherwise polluted, it is not lawful for them to be partakers of this sacrifice;"
Observe that this vast multitude is gathered here to celebrate the passover, which Christ completely fulfilled a few years before. In the note at the bottom of the page, this point is made. "But what is here chiefly remarkable is this, that no foreign nation ever came thus to destroy the Jews at any of their solemn festivals, from the days of noses till this time, but came now upon their apostasy from God, and from obedience to him. Nor is it possible, in the nature of things, that in any other nation such vast numbers should be gotten together, and perish in the siege of any one city whatsoever as now happened in Jerusalem."
Comment: Here we see that when people kept these festivals which spoke of Christ, God protected and blessed them. Christ, the passover Lamb, had been slain a generation earlier. God had been slain a generation earlier. God had given them this whole generation to forsake what spoke of His Son's sacrificial death. The gospel of the Son had been made available to every person here in Jerusalem a generation earlier and many believed, Acts chp. 2. Those who rejected the gospel and the sacrifice of Christ continued on in this passover. What had previously brought a blessing now brings the total wrath of God upon this rebellious and stiff-necked people. He calls them all together and slaughters them in accord with the many prophecies, Zech. 11:5 included. (That wrath poured out without any mature of mercy.)
In this slaughter, they have no one to blame but themselves. They had been warned, Matt. 24. They had been told that this passover was now an abomination to God, book of Hebrews. In spit of all of this, they continued to assemble, only now in rebellion to the plan of salvation and the true passover. Now, as our Lord promised in Matt. 24, 1-35 (emphasize on vv. 21, 22), the worse destruction and slaughter ever takes place against these millions who are gathered together in rebellion against His Son.
4. A very important statement is presented by Josephus. "Now, this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in a prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. According to the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destruction that either men or God ever brought upon the world,,," The two leaders of the sedition were finally apprehended (John and Simon), by Rome. Rome sets fire to the city and entirely demolished the walls.
(Without really looking into this, here seems to be the timetable. The sedition in Jerusalem starts around 66 A.D. 73. Titus takes over about 3 1/2 years into the siege. Without checking further into this at this time, I have no doubt that from the time the sedition was started by the Jewish zealots (called Tyrants, by Josephus), until the final burning, we would have seven years. What takes place within this seven year period will fit perfectly into Daniel's prophecy [and the many other OT prophecies], our Lord's words AND the prophecies of the book of Revelation. There is no way that I know of to dismiss Rev. 18:20-24. These are our Lord's words as He wept over the coming destruction of Jerusalem in Matt. 23:34-38. Thus, according to our Lord's words, the book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ is fulfilled up to the end of chp. 18.)
Now we get back to Zechariah's prophecy. V. 5, and their own shepherds... Christ confronts these false shepherds with this truth many times. These Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, lawyers, priests and even the High Priest, had no true concern for God's word or for God's people. Christ stripped them of their facade all during His 3 1/2 years. He did this openly and for all to see. Lk. 11:45-54 (v. 52), is extremely clear on this. (Actually all of Lk. 11). The Jewish 'shepherds' who He confronted knew exactly who He was referring to, v. 54.
Paul also warned of the false shepherds (waves), which would seek to destroy the flock, Acts 20:29, 30. The most dangerous enemy the early church faced was the Judisers. Those who sought to bind the new Christians back under the rites and rituals of the old sacrificial system.
I think that God gives us a couple of views of this tremendous potential for destruction of Christianity. The first view would be Peter in Gal. 2:11-21. Peter, under the pressure of "certain," separated from the Gentiles because he feared the Jews. Paul rebuked Peter here, but Paul also found himself caught up in Judaism after he was saved. In Acts 21:26, Paul purified himself with others who were going into the temple.
If these two men, Peter and Paul, could be caught up in the manner of the Jewish religion after Christ, then how much more likely would this religion (now dead), be to bull in others of this new religion, Christianity.
We don't realize the danger which was present from the old (now dead) system. Both Judaism and Christianity had the same basic law. They had the same Lord God. In fact, they were the same, with Judaism giving birth to Christianity. Thus, Christianity has the character of the destruction of Judaism that Christianity was freed from its terrible destructive influence.
The temple meant power and influence for the false shepherds. This power corrupted them and Christ confronted their corruption. This power caused their own shepherds to pity them not. They had no pity on the people. This would probably be (to me), one of the outstanding points made by Josepheus. It was the leaders (shepherds, if you please), that shut the gates and kept the people (Jewish nation which had gathered in Jerusalem to worship God), within the city by force. They even fought among themselves to see who would be the "ruler" of the sheep, Wars, B5. 1.3.
If their shepherds treated them thusly, is it any wonder that Rome did as they did to them. No one had pity on them, (--Prophets, pg. 422).
V. 6, For I will no more pity... This is the Lord speaking and there could be no sadder commentary for a person or nation. What stands out about this statement is no more.
Why is all of God's pity cut off from these people? V. 5, we see that their own shepherds pitied them not. They used and misused these people for their own purpose. The Good Shepherd came (Jn. 10), and the people rejected the Good Shepherd and continued to follow the wicked shepherds.
Who is pity cut off from? The inhabitants of the land of Judah. but, lo, listen up to what I have to say (as we used to say in the service). I will deliver the man everyone into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king. Look at who is going to do the delivering up to slaughter, I will. I will deliver them to the slaughter. I will not deliver them from the slaughter, God will have no pity on them and the slaughter will be horrible.
I think this verse is quite important because it covers a tremendous scope of events. Let's go through the events.
First, all pity has been, will be, removed. Second, the inhabitants of the land of Judah are being referred to. Third, these inhabitants are being led by false teachers. They chose the wicked shepherds over the Good Shepherd. Acts 3:13, 14, and the God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
Fourth, Jn. 19:15. We have no king but Caesar. Here the inhabitants of Judah chose Caesar (Rome), over Christ. Through Zechariah, God says that He is going to deliver them into the hands of the king which they will choose. He is going to turn every man over to his king.
Of course, we know what took place. These people, at the urging of the wicked shepherds, demanded Christ's death, choosing King Caesar over King Jesus. God gave plenty of warnings and chance for them to repent (and great multitudes did. Read Acts). When the time was up (one generation), He sent the king which they had chosen over the rightful king, against them. God delivered them into the hands of the king which they chose, and no pity.
There is a good point here for us. God will deliver His people today into the hand of the king which they chose. It sure appears that many of His people have chosen King Caesar over King Jesus, because King Caesar is gaining tremendous power. Folks deserve what they get from the king they chose.
Fifth, the king which they chose will smite the land. Sixth, I will not deliver them. This is very important. This is the only time we are told this about Judah. When Judah was taken to Babylon, they were taken as a group with the promise of restoration. Here we see no promise of restoration after the king which they have chosen smites them.
This indeed throws an interesting light upon much of modern-day eschatology which looks for a restored land of Judah. I think the consistent thought in prophecy goes something like this. Here we have God delivering the flock, which chose the wrong king, to slaughter. This flock will never be restored. The many passages which do speak of restoration would be the new restoration in Christ, the Church. The old physical nation was judged with total judgment.
God here tells them then that He will deliver them to the king whom they chose. He also tells them that He will have no pity upon them and that He will not deliver them out of the hand of this king. Thus, it is obvious, that when Rome (Caesar), made this move, it was such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be, Matt. 24:21.
Remember, this was the generation that chose Caesar over Christ and then killed Christ. They were the ones who were gathered at Jerusalem in rebellion against Christ. They knew about Christ and the gospel. Acts 2, points out that there were Jews from all over the world at the preaching of this first sermon. No doubt they took the new message back home with them.
Zech. 11:7. Zechariah continues to speak for the Lord his God. V. 4, only now he is even more pointed, speaking for the Lord Jesus Christ, v. 12.
Here in v. 7, we see that the Lord Jesus did what the Father instructed Him to do. He fed the flock, Matt. 15:24. Yet the flock rejected His feeding, thus becoming the flock of slaughter, Matt. 23:37, 38. The Lord did all He could to call them to Himself and to the Father. His words, His works. Everything He did was to call them, yet they refused to their own destruction, Hos. 13:9. (There are a great many OT passages which speak of Israel being the sheep and Christ the Good Shepherd. Isa. 40:10, 11; Jer. 23:2-6; Ezek. 34:1-23; 27:24.)
Even you, O poor of the flock. There are two understandings of this. One is that all people of the world are His sheep and the poor of the flock was Israel. The second is that Israel is the sheep and the poor of the flock are the elect. I believe the second understanding fits better.
The whole flock was committed to Christ for feeding. He fed them all (Israel). The vast number of the flock was fed for slaughter, yet there was a little flock (Lk. 12:32), contained in the whole. These were the faithful elect Jews who received His feeding and believed upon Him in spite of the tremendous persecution by the false shepherds. These were the poor of the flock. These were not the rich, powerful and mighty, except in a very few cases. These who believed in the Good Shepherd were despised and rejected, along with the Good Shepherd, by the High Priest, Scribes and Pharisees.
Jn. 9 and 10 is a very good example. The poor blind beggar, part of the Jewish flock. Christ fed him also. The false shepherds considered him as just a poor ignorant man, 9:34, and threw him out of the temple when he spoke for Christ.
Jesus finds him, reveals Himself to him and the man worships Christ, 9:38. Then the contrast, chp. 10. The false shepherds threw the poor man out, but the Good Shepherd welcomes him with open arms. More than that, 10:15, He even dies for His people such as this poor blind beggar.
Paul continues on this thought in I Cor. 1:26-31. There he points out that not many wise men, after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. Rather, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world... We also see in Jn. 7:48 that there were a few of the wise and noble in the world's eyes who followed the Good Shepherd, but they were rare exceptions. By far, the large majority of people who follow Him are the poor and feeble.
Pusey points out (Barnes, pg. 424), "The elect are the end of all God's dispensations. He fed all, yet the fruit of His feeding, His toils, His death, the travail of His soul, was in those only who are saved, II Tim. 2:10."
John Lofton in the Chalcedon Report (July, '89), calls attention to C. H. Spurgeon's commentary on Matthew. It would be encouraging for us to look at this comment by Spurgeon also. (The Gospel of the Kingdom, Pilgrim Publications, 1978), Spurgeon comments on Matt. 5:19 (Pg. 25), "Our king has not come to abrogate the law, but to confirm and reassert it. His commands are eternal; and if any of the teachers of it should through error break his law, and teach that its least command is nullified, they will lose rank, and subside into the lowest place. The peerage of his kingdom is ordered according to obedience. Not birth, knowledge, or success will make a man great; but humble and precise obedience, both in word and in deed. "Whosoever shall do and teach," he is the man who, "shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Hence the Lord Jesus does not set up a milder law, nor will he allow anyone of his servants to presume to do so. Our King fulfills the ancient law, and his Spirit works in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure as set forth in the immutable statutes of righteousness."
Now let's observe a few things. God calls very few wise, mighty
or noble men to do His work. Rather He chooses the foolish things
of this world so that the wise might be confounded and God glorified,
A person's position in the kingdom of heaven is not determined by his birth, knowledge or success. Rather it is determined by his faithful obedience to God's revealed will. That desire and power to obey placed by God's spirit, Ph. 2:13.
And I took... He took unto himself two shepherds staves. Ps. 23:1 thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. One was called beauty or loveliness. The favor and living kindness of God. When this one was broken, there remained bands or binders. This held the people together in covenant with God. and I fed... He tended to His flock with both loving favor, grace and mercy, "and binding them together and with Himself."
V. 8. Three shepherds... These three shepherds have been discussed down through the ages. Probably the best explanation as to who they are is given by Pusey, pg. 425. With a foundation of Jer. 2:8, 26; 18:18, he points out, "That our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself expressly pronounced woe on the Pharisees and scribes and lawyers." See Lk. 11:44-46. These three offices were to lead the flock away from the Lord and His Christ. See our Lords inditement against them in Lk. 11:44-46.
I cut off in one month. They killed the Prince of LIfe and He rose from the dead, Acts 3:14-15. In doing so, these three offices are cut off from these false shepherds. The offices of the legal priesthood, the appointed judges and the interpreters of Scripture, i.e., the lawyers. Instead of these three exercising their offices under the rightful King, they killed Him. In doing this, God striped them of the legitimacy of their offices. "These three offices, King, Divine Teacher and Priest were to be united in Christ." When they rejected Him, they forfeited these offices.
and my soul... God did not abhor them first, in fact we see the love of God for these men as Christ wept over Jerusalem. They hated Him and killed Him. The result was not imminent destruction but a forty year opportunity to repent. They didn't, thus He, "Made them to disappear, effaced them from the earth."
V. 9. I will not feed you... God turns His back upon them and leaves them to their own devices and their results. This seems to be the sum total of Moses warning of Deut. 28-31 (31:17).
Not only did Moses sound this warning but we have it all through the prophets. Jer. 15:1, 2 (43:11). Jer. 15:4 identifies the time frame as before their captivity into Babylon. Yet Zechariah is writing after this captivity, therefore, Zechariah's prophecy was looking forward to the destruction by Rome. Again, this v. 9 is a very graphic description of what took place when God gave this nation over to Rome, to do with as they pleased, and they certainly did.
As we read this record, we even find them eating one another. Keep in mind that when Rome moved against Jerusalem, God had sent them in judgment for their killing the King of glory and that He had completely turned His back against them. There was wrath without any mixture of mercy. Total evil had taken over.
V. 10. Beauty... Chastening had been a form of love. Thus the chastening was done with mercy attached to it. Now that beauty is cut asunder, there is no loving kindness in the chastening. ..all the peoples... God no longer holds back the nations from moving against the Jews. He has broken all mercy toward them, He has broken all covenants with other nations which allowed favor toward Israel. They were and are turned over to the devouring wolves. "The Romans first, and well nigh all nations since, have inflected on the Jews, what they willed; and the Mohammedans too have requited to them their contumely to Jesus."
But now they are discarded and discovenanted : I have broken my covenant, and (ver. 11) it was broken in that day] that is, in the day that they put themselves out of my precincts, I put them out of my protection. That peace that I had granted to my people, that they should be no more molested by any strange nation (which was verified from the time of the Maccabees till a little before the coming of Christ), shall now be forfeited. The glory is departed, the Beauty broken in pieces, the golden head of the picture, religion, defaced, and good order banished ; all things out of order both in Church and State (for so they were when Christ "came to his own, and his own received him not :" he found them in Dothan, that is, in defection, as Joseph found his brethren) ; therefore he now disowns and disavows them as much as once he did when they had made a golden calf." Thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves," saith God to Moses, Exod. xxxii. 7, upon whom he now fathereth them, as if he had never been in covenant with them. Danaeus upon this text concludeth that the Jews are now strangers from the covenant of God; and that this is hereby confirmed, for that they are without baptism, the seal of the covenant. (John Trapp, An Exposition of the Prophecy of Zechariah, Chap. XI, 10.) Tanskin Publications, Eureka, CA.)
V. 11. (See Zeph. 3:12), our Lord warned in Lk. 21:20, 21 that when His people saw Jerusalem surrounded with armies, that its desolation was nigh. He warned them to then flee for the mountains. The poor of the flock, the believers obeyed our Lord's words and fled to Pella, escaping the great, horrible judgment when not one stone was left upon another.
V. 12. and I said unto them, if you think good, give me my price; He close Israel out of the whole of the human race. He brought them out of Egyptian slavery, guarded and guided them through the wilderness to the land of Canaan. He gave them a beautiful land flowing with milk and honey. They were His peculiar people, guided by His Divine Providence. Taught by His Prophets, given His law for their life and health. They were given a glorious inheritance and you would think, "That when it came time for them to give Him His due (give me my price), that they would have gladly give Him whatever He asked for. But no, they even cast out His Son and killed Him, Matt. 21:34-37.
My, how terrible we would say, but how many of His people have cast Him out today? He left His throne of Heaven as God, made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, he himself, even to the death of the cross, Ph. 2:6-10. He came as a servant and served day and night for our salvation. He asks for His hire which He has earned as a servant, and what is that hire? "Faith and the will of a faithful heart..." He asks for no payment of gifts, gold, and silver, for what can we give to Him that wasn't His to start with?
And if not, forbear... "But He so asketh for this as a reward, as to leave us free, either by faithlessly to reject it." He goes not force our service, rather He places before us a choice. his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Rom. 6:16) That choice is between life and death. Do this and live, refuse and die. The choice for life is, can be made only by His grace, Ph. 2:13 (also see Ezek. 2:5, 1; 3:11, 37.) Really, Elijah hit the issue head-on when he said, If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him... "So He bids them, at least to chose openly, whose they would be, to whom they would give their service; and if they refuse in heart, to refuse in act also." Pusey makes an important point there. Elijah told these people to get with it, come out into the open. If you are going to serve God, do it for all to see. If you are not, then do that for all to see. Quit trying to fool everyone by serving Baal in the heart and God on the outside. (See Deut. 30:19.)
Again let us be reminded, the choice of serving God is by His grace. He alone can give the desire and the power to obey unto righteousness and life. Why do some make the proper choice and remain true to it and others seemingly are unable to? Only He can answer this.
Now another point here in Zech. 11:12. The choice is there. The two paths are set before us. The path of life or the path of death. We are urged to chose life with a submitted will to Him and a self-sacrificing dedication to His command-word.
This, to me, brings up an interesting point. As we have mentioned several times before, this brings up the anti-abortion movement. Of course, we must work at changing the laws which permits the killing of the unborn, but I also think that work needs to be done within the framework of our political system. (Why aren't the anti-abortionists investing all of that money and time in changing the political climate concerning abortion?)
Now here is where I'm headed. The anti-abortion crowd uses pro-life as the term to identify themselves. Many of their slogans reflect, "chose life" as they try to get those contemplating killing their babies to chose not to. This is what I want to look at. "CHOOSE LIFE."
When we consider this term, "chose life" or "pro-life" it can be very misleading. Let me start with a quote from Randall Terry. This is found in the Chalcedon Report, NO. 288, July -89. In a article by John Lofton, Confessing and Preaching, pg. 13. We read, "And speaking of outrageous assertions made by individuals who are supposedly Christians, ponder, please, this obscured comment by Randall Terry, the leader of Operation Rescue. He said this in a January 27, 1989, interview, in one of Gary North's taped "Fireside Chats." "The rescue movement will determine the fate of this country."...
...[W]hat Mr. Terry says here is, very revealing. What it reveals is the messianic nature of the revolutionary's mind set, according to which, eventually, the revolutionary's tactics become the canon, the holy writ."
Here is what we appear to have. Mr. Terry believes his slogan, "Right to life, chose life." His thinking, revealed in this statement, says that if enough people stop killing their babies them America will live. They have chosen life, not only for their own child, but for their nation.
It is indeed sad to see this kind of thinking permeates society and especially those who are so dedicated to a worthy cause, to stop the killing of babies. But even though their goal must be agreed to by every Bible-believing Christian, we must say that the mind set which is causing the dedication to the goal is going to bring destruction.
Paul, in Rom. 6:16, is making a quite obvious reference to Deut. 30:19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore chose life, that both thou and thy seed may let live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days:
Moses isn't the only one offering the choice although he is probably the first to make if so clear. We have it again in Joshua 1:7, 8 and again in Joshua 24:15. These are only four of the many locations where this choice is offered between life and death.
Now let's come back to Mr. Terry's choice life. As Lofton says, "But Mr. Terry's no doubt sincere statement is idolatrous humanism run amok..." Thus, Mr. Terry's offer is no better than the offer being made in the government schools and in the media, chose against drugs; chose against smoking; and the many other humanist choices.
This comes awful close to the offer made to Eve. "With enough knowledge, Eve, you don't need God's word. You can chose between right and wrong without God's word. Therefore, eat of this tree of knowledge."
Now let's come back to Mr. Terry's choice, chose lift. As Loton say, "But Mr. Terry's no doubt sincere statement is idolatrous humanism run amok..." Thus, Mr. Terry's offer is no better than the offer being made in the government schools and in the media, chose against drugs; chose against smoking; and the many other humanist choices.
This comes awful close to the offer made to Eve. "With enough knowledge, Eve, you don't need God's word. You can chose between right and wrong without God's word. Therefore, eat of this tree of knowledge."
Humanism says that with enough knowledge, man can make the right choices to his own salvation. With enough knowledge he can chose life, his own salvation. "Eleventh: man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge... we... discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking." (Humanist Manifestos, I and II, pg. 9.) Also on pg. 17, we find this. "Fourth: Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: Neither faith nor passion suffices in itself."
The choice offered by the humanist between "right and wrong," which is based upon reason and intelligence is as anti-christ and anti-god as anything can possibly be. Any idea whatsoever of salvation through any kind of movement (whether operation rescue, enough education or whatever), is doomed because it has God's curse against it.
Back to Mr. Lofton's statement, "What it reveals is the Messianic nature of the revolutionary's mind set, according to which, eventually, the revolutionary's tactics become can on, the holy writ."
Now, let's deal with the question, "All right, than what is the pro-life choice? Again, referring to Moses' pro-life offer (and Paul's).
Deut. 30:19, 20, is at the end of a long statement by Moses which started somewhere about 27:1. In this lengthy passage he lays out the requirements of God, with the blessings as well as the curses connected with those requirements. It can all be summed up with 28:1, and it shall come to pass, if thou shalt harken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day...
I suppose a good illustration would be this. I was somewhere out of town listening to a Christian radio station so I don't know the name of the program. On this call in program, the caller told how she had been influenced by Operation Rescue to not kill her unborn baby. She repented of her sin of wanting to kill this unborn child.
In the conversation, the point was made that the lady wasn't married and was a career woman with a previous child already born out of wedlock (if I remember Christianity and love for God because she repented of the sin of wanting to kill her second baby and deciding to keep it alive and care for it. He held her up as an example of what a Christian should be and how they should act.
This is the logical conclusion of, "Chose life," or, "Pro-life," according to Randall Terry's statement that "The rescue movement will determine the fate of this country..." This thinking is to chose death and cursing from God.
Notice there was no mention of repentance over the adultery or fornication which brought about the desire to kill the baby. If Operation Rescue were an anti-adultery movement, the choice would be a proper choice, "Chose life, chose against immorality. Chose God's blessings." The lady on the talk show, there was no remorse over the whoredoms. Therefore there was no genuine repentance. It was all a false hope.
The choice offered by Moses and Paul is between doing all his commandments or not doing them. That doing is by faith and in the power and grace of God. (Not for salvation, of course). The repentance is over the violation of the basic sin which brings about the child with the mother desires to kill. That repentance brings about a change of attitude as well as a change in action.
God (Zech. 11:12), sets before His people the way of life (His word), and the way of death. He tells them, "Chose which way, I have paid the price, I have bought you through My service day and night for your salvation. Therefore, you owed me your faithful obedient service. Will you preform it? Will you chose life?"
Chose life is the plea of God, yet in that plea He does not force us to chose lift, BUT HE DOES FORCE THE CHOICE UPON US.
"Right to life," certainly. "Chose life," of course, but life for the individual or for a society is found in the choice which Moses gave to God's people in Deut. 31:19. This same choice given again by Paul in Rom. 6:16.
Folks make the wrong choice either out of ignorance or out of rebellion, then they blame God. We destroy ourselves and wonder why God has forsaken us, (Hosea 13:9).
God help us to make the right choice and live by that choice, Amos chp. 5.
so they weighed... The Good Shepherd served the flock faithfully. He led them, protected them, healed them, fed them and taught them. He now asks for His reward (pay) for His faithful service. Rather than giving Him His proper due, they pay Him thirty pieces of silver. This is a significant amount because it shows the contempt which these men had for Him. Really, He didn't even get it, it was paid to another, Judas.
In Ex. 21:32, we find that this was the value God placed upon a manservant or a maidservant who had been gored by an ox. In vv. 29-31, we find that if the ox had gored and killed a free man or woman, the owner of the ox was to be put to death.
This is interesting. These men who paid (Matt. 26:15), the thirty pieces of silver for Christ probably had this law in mind. They showed their contempt for Christ by only paying the thirty pieces of silver. The father held them accountable for the whole sum as they killed the Son. He extracted the just recompense according to Ex. 21:29-31, when He destroyed Jerusalem and either killed all the inhabitance or carried them away as slaves or prisoners of war.
Now for a further observation. The Lord faithfully served for our salvation, redemption and sanctification. He failed in nothing and left nothing undone. He paid the ultimate price (His life), that we might have the desire, freedom, power and ability to repay Him with our service, (I Pet. 1:18, 19). I'm afraid that most of God's people, even today, regard Him as nothing more than a servant.
We can find with scorn at these Jews who only gave the thirty pieces of silver for Him, but the vast majority of His people are doing the same today. We regard Him as little more than a servant to come running when we pray, to make us feel better when we read His word, to bail us out of our financial difficulties which result when we fail to keep HIs financial principles, to solve the difficulties which developed when we do things our own way, to salvage our kids after we let the anti-god crowd have them in the government schools. The list is endless.
Certainly, the Lord desires to handle these things for His people, but it comes back to the choice which He has set before us. Chose His command-word and life. Chose our own way and death. (Deut. 27:9-31:30, emphasis on 30:19. Compare with Rom. 6:16.) To regard Him as someone to bail us out of the problems which develop as we ignore His law (principles of life), is to regard Him as did the Jews when they paid the price of a gored slave for Him.
Again, the choice. The Jews made a choice. They chose to regard Him as no more than a servant. Death was the result. For His people today who chose to regard Him as little more than a servant to do their bidding, death awaits them.
Lift is the result of DOING His commands, Matt. 7:24-29. We
dare not regard Him as a servant of any kind. We can only consider
Him as our Lord and Master as we search His word for what we are
required to do for Him, (and of course, each requirement has a
blessing attached to it). When we search His word for what He
is "required" to do for us, we lover Him to little more
than a servant to do our bidding. See Jn. 13:13 and Lk. 17:7-10.
I am weary of hearing and reading the many messages on prayer. Prayer seems, to many folks, to be a magic formula. All you have to do is pray and God will change things. There are multitude of passages given to back up this heresy. In the vast majority of the messages (imprinted from or over the airwaves), there is a very important principles (passage), which is overlooked.
This principle is found in places such as Jn. 15:7-10, and summed up in I Jn. 3:22. and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
Here are two conditions for answered prayer. The first one is quite obvious, being born again. Have we received what He has done for us in our place for our sin.
The second one here can be a little more confusing, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. John identifies the commandment and it is found in one of his other books, St. John 15:9-17.
Now, Biblical love has nothing to do with emotion, rather it is obeying God's commands in our actions and attitudes toward God and toward man, Mk. 12:29-31; Deut. 6:4 (all of chp. 6); Lev. 19:18. do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Paul tells Timothy how to identify those things that are pleasing in His sight, II Tim. 3:16. Those things are identified through the use of all scripture (old and new testament). Biblical love fulfills God's commands toward Himself and toward our fellowman in accord with the total of His revealed will and word.
In the man messages on prayer which we hear over the electronic media and read in the printed page, very seldom is answered prayer connected in any way with seeking and doing God's will in the many areas of life (as God instructed Joshua in Josh. 1:7-9. Really, 7:10 is a good example. Joshua was praying for victory. The Lord told him to get up and get to work and separate from the disobedience to His commands).
Certainly, we need to preach that men ought always to pray and not to fain, Lk. 18:1. Certainly we should preach that God answers prayer, but prayer (faith) without works is worse than dead, it is presumption, Ja. 2:20. (See also Heb. 5:11 and the alternate reading for unbelief. Also Num. chp. 14. Israel's unbelief had nothing to do with emotion. It was a refusal to act upon the commands of God.)
Thus, to pray for God to solve our financial difficulties when we ignore (or don't know), His principles of finances (debt free, tithing, etc.), is wasted breath. When we pray for His protection or salvaging our children and we allow the anti-christ crowd train them in the government schools is a farce before God. To ask God to watch over our business dealings in which we "fudge" on His word to help them work out is presumption. To ask Him to reach a community for Christ without us going out to try to reach them is silly. To ask Him to change the government to be more "Christian" in its outlook without our being involved will not work. As we see, the list, as before, is endless as it reaches into every area of life.
Bringing us back to this. To pray for these many things apart from the seeking and doing of His total will (by His power and grace, of course), is to reduce the Lord to no more than a servant of man.
He will not be a servant of man. As His people are faithful in keeping His command-word, then as they pray, they can be assured that God hears and answers according to His will.
It would appear that the vast majority of messages which we see and hear concerning prayer is nothing but wishful thinking, making the Lord of Glory no more than a manservant, to come running to do our bidding.
Is this the Lord God of Scripture?
V. 13. and the Lord said unto me, cast it unto the poller... Cast it as you would a piece of meat to the dogs or a dead body to the grave. Or as the anti-christ crowd seeks to cast off God's laws from themselves, Ps. 2:3. Where are the thirty pieces cast?
To the potter. They were flung away, yet they ended up going to the potter even though they were not cast directly to him. Rather they were cast in the house of the Lord. Of course, this describes exactly what Judah did in Matt. 27:3-10. Judas cast the silver away from himself in the temple. The Divine Providence of God caused the money to be used to buy a field from the potter to bury strangers in. "He saith, cast it unto the potter, that they might understand that they would be broken as a potter's vessel," Pusey. See Jeremiah chp. 19. As Matthew quotes Zech. 11:13, he identifies it as Jeremiah's. This leaves no doubt that the curse mentioned in Jeremiah is upon those who killed the King of Glory.
A good price... These Jews considered the thirty pieces of silver a goodly price for the Son of God (the Good Shepherd), even though it was the price of gored servant. Let us make a comment here.
The world's crowd today places extremely little value upon this Good Shepherd. Like the High Priest here, He is of very little value to them. He is seen only as someone which upsets their plans to rule the people and to retain their power. If they recognize Him at all it will only be a word or two of reference to a "good man, a teacher" who lived about 2,000 years ago. We can rest assured that they will not admit that not only does all of history hinge upon Him, but He controls all of history.
The One they value so lightly is the most valued of all possible things by His peoples and by the God of heaven. What makes the difference? John 16:14 is clear. It is the Holy Spirit of God which makes the Son, the Good Shepherd so valued to the people of God. The world might give Him a passing nod of recognition in passing, but His people should willingly give Him their life.
(At times I wonder about this. Many professing Christians won't even give Him their time, money, abilities or children. The things of this world do have their appeal.)
Sinful men, in their natural state, will respond exactly as these Jewish leaders did, the value of a wounded servant. Or worst yet, sell Him for the price. To those who love God, He is altogether lovely, Song of Sol. 5:16. Maybe we should ask the Spirit of God to make Him lovely to us.
V. 14. This verse seems to contradict the many prophetic passages which call for a reuniting of Judah and Israel. See Isa. 11:12, 13; Hosea 1:11; Jer. 8:18; Ezek. 37:16-19. Most pointed of the passages would be Ezek. 37:21-28. Clearly Ezekiel prophecies of the uniting of all the children of Israel into one glorious nation under the king, David My servant. This uniting is done with a covenant of peace with them. (See our notes on Ezek. 37.) We see this fulfilled in Acts 4:32 as the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul. The New Israel of God under its King, Jesus, fulfills this prophecy.
"V. 14. In consequence of this shameful payment for his service, the shepherd of the Lord breaks his second staff, as a sign that he will no longer feed the ungrateful nation, but leave it to its fate... "The payment of the wages to the shepherd in the prophetical announcement is simply the symbolical form in which the nation manifests its ingratitude for the love and fidelity shown towards it by the shepherd, and the sign that it will no longer have him as its shepherd, and therefore a sign of the blackest ingratitude, and of hard-heartedness in return for the love displayed by the shepherd... (Keil-Delitzsch).""
Pusey sees this cutting asunder... between Judah and Israel as the division between believers and non-believers after the murder of Christ and before the destruction of Jer... Bands (Ps. 2:3) being the removal of God's protection of His covenant people. All mercy removed (v. 10), thus all restriction removed from those who desire to destroy them. As a result of giving the Good Shepherd His proper pay, they are turned over to the wild beasts of the field, vv. 12, 13. Break the brotherhood... is seen as faith in Christ being the dividing line (the break. Those who believed in the Messiah, spared. Those who rejected Him, destroyed in the horrible destruction of 70 A.D. There were multiplied thousands who joined with the Messiah and therefore spared.
Keil makes an excellent point which would cause us to dismiss Pusey's view. "According to the evident meaning of the symbolical representation, the whole flock paid the good shepherd wages, which were tanta mount to a rejection of his pastoral care, and was therefore given up by him; so that by falling into parties it destroyed itself, and as the shepherd tells it in v. 9, one devoured the flesh of the other. This is not at variance with the fact that by this self-destroying process they did not all perish, but that the miserable ones among the sheep who gave heed to the Lord, [saved]..., were saved."
It would seem that Keil's view would fit this context better because v. 10 does refer to all the people. Again, referring back to Josephus, we read of this division among the Jews. In fact, one of more important points in the siege is when the factions within the city fought and a result was the burning of the food storage. There was food enough for years of siege, but it was burned. The two main leaders of the revolt against Rome were John and Simon. These two hated and fought each other within the walls as much as they did Rome, Wars, B. IV, IX. 12; B V. X. 1; B V.I. 1-; Book V. chp VI.--
V. 15. I find this none more than a little difficult. Pusey identifies this with what Paul said in II Thess. 2: When this nation rejected their Messiah, God sent to these rulers a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth... The instruments... The instruments could be the staff (symbol of authority), of destruction. This was given to Rome. Their authority was used only to do v. 16. It was not at all used for the welfare of the flock.
Keil says, "That we are not to understand by this foolish shepherd all the evil native rulers of the Jewish people collectively, as Hengstenberg supposes, is as evident from the context as it can possibly be." He goes on to identify this foolish shepherd as the imperial power of Rome.
Yet, to me neither of these two give a good understanding of this verse and the foolish shepherd. Matthew Henry's explanation here fits best for me, and he goes exactly opposite of Keil. The cross reference in my Bible would fit into M. H.'s view, Ezek. 34:2. I don't see how men such as Pusey and Keil could miss that prophecy in Ezek. 34. Ezekiel clearly identifies this foolish shepherd as the wicked leaders of this nation who raised up with one voice, "We will not have this man to reign over us." With one voice they said, "We have no king but Caesar." With one heart, mind and voice they said, "Crucify Him. Let His blood be upon us and our children."
"1... The description here given of the foolish shepherd suits very well with the character Christ gave of the scribes and Pharisees, Matt. 23. 1. They shall be under the tyranny of unmerciful princes, that shall rule them with rigor, and make their own land as much a house of bondage to them as ever Egypt or Babylon was. When they had rejected him by whom princes decree justice it was just that they should be turned over to those who decree unrighteous decrees. 3. They shall be imposed upon and deluded by false Christs and false prophets, as our Saviour foretold, Matt. 24:5. Many such there were, who by their seditious practices provoked the Romans, and hastened the ruin of the Jewish nation; but it is observable that they were never cheated by a counterfeit Messiah till they had refused and rejected the true Messiah... (Matthew Henry)"
V. 16. I will raise up... "God supplies the strength or wisdom which men abuse to sin. He, in His Providence, desposeth the circumstances, of which the ambitious avail themselves. Anti-Christ, whom the Jews look for, will be as much an instrument of God for the perfecting the elect, as the Chaldeans or the Assyrians whom God raised up, for the chastisement of His former people, or the Medes against Babylon." (Pusey)
Once again we are reminded that God raises up and puts down who He will and that for His purpose alone.
A shepherd... would seem to speak of just one rather than the many false shepherds within the nation. This would seem to refer to one main ruler which had the authority over them and as we see here in v. 16, not only didn't care for them but devoured even their feet.
Yet, we see that this description by Keil identifying this shepherd as Rome doesn't really fit, nor the description by Pusey. Therefore we will follow through with M. H.'s line of thought. "Their scribes, and priest, and doctors of their law, [that] shall bind heavy burdens upon them, and grievous to be born, and with their traditions imposed, shall make the ceremonial law much more a yoke than God had made it...
When the sheep rejected the good shepherd, God then raised
up a evil, foolish shepherd and He delivers them into his hand
to be destroyed (slaughtered, vv. 4, 7). (In this Pusey is right.)
V. 16 describes perfectly the evil men which God delivered the
Jewish nation to. These men led in the revolt against Rome (again,
as one in their revolt, yet fought among themselves). They had
absolutely no concern about the sheep in any way except for their
own power and well-being. They took every last drop (and tear
their claws in pieces), from the people for their own benefit.
Their use of the people to rebel against Rome did not help. It
only made the slaughter more devastating and terrible. Every last
one who followed the false shepherd who was in the wicked city
which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our. Lord
was crucified (Rev. 11:8; Isa. 1:9), was slaughtered with a slaughter
which there had never been any thing like since the world began
(Josephus, B VI, chp. IX. 4. See Matt. 24:21.) Again, this view
conforms with Ezekiel's prophecy, chp. 34:1-10.
V. 17. The sword shall be upon his arm and upon his right eye... M. H. points out here that this is exactly fulfilled in our Lord's statement in Jn. 9:39. For judgment I am come int this world that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. Now, in regards to the shepherd, when they rejected Christ, they were blinded totally to the results of their actions from then on.
Paul prepared the early church (before Jer. fell), for this. In II Thess. 2, he warned them of the coming of the man of sin, the son of perdition. He points out that because the wicked Jews refused to receive Christ that God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: The season? V. 12, that they all might be damned... Thus, they rejected Christ, then God sent them a strong delusion that He might judge them.
The son of perdition was coming to destroy the Jewish nation. Paul warns these early Christians of this. If he hadn't, no doubt as they saw what Rome did to the Jews, they would have thought that the promises of God were of non effect and the whole world was ended.
1.) God pronounces His woe against the idol shepherd who set himself up as god among the Jews. (This is easily traced through the four gospels as these leaders demanded almost the same reverence as what Jehovah God required.) 2.) God pronounces the sword against them, this being the word of God, which is sharper than any two edged sword. We saw where the word of God cut them in Jn. 9:39, putting out their eye. 3.) It moved against his arm and his right eye. The word of God removed his strength and blinded him. Their power was stripped from them upon the cross, Col. 2:14, 15. They were blinded to the results of their rebellion against God and then against man, Rome.
Now, let's go back to II Thess. 2. The Jews looked for the antichrist but John told them that he was already present, I Jn. 4:1-5. It was not some thing off in the future, but was present with them. Of course, this would be any spirit which is against Christ and this spirit was very prevalent in Christ's day. This spirit which put Christ to death also sought to put the early Christians to death, Acts 7:60; 12:1-3.
John (and Paul) told these early Christians, "Don't be surprised by what is going to take place within this generation." As we have mentioned previously, we under-estimate what took place when Rome burned Jerusalem. It was the end of the known world to these Jews which made up a very large portion of this new church. It could have destroyed their faith if all of these authors (our Lord included), hadn't warned them and prepared them for that horrible holocasute. Of course, Hitler and the Communists since then have killed more people over a period of time, but as we read the description of this fall of Jer., there is nothing in history which will compare.
We will not go nearly as in depth with II Thess. 2 a s we should, but just a short point or two to give an idea of what Paul is discussing there. Probably the best, and most consistent with Scripture, description I have found of II Thess., chp. 2, would be B.B. Warfield. BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL STUDIES and his chapter, the prophecies of Paul. After he lays some ground work, he gets down to the meat on pg. 473, 4.
"...Paul had in mind when he pinned this hideous description of the son of perdition, every item of which was fulfilled in the terrible story of the emperors of Rome."
The restraining power, on this hypothesis, appears to be the Jewish state. For the continued existence of the Jewish state was both graciously and naturally a protection to Christianity, and hence a restraint on the revelation of the persecuting power. Graciously, it was God's plan to develop Christianity under the protection of Judaism for a short set time, with the double purpose of keeping the door of salvation open to the Jews until all of their elect of that generation should be gathered in and the apostasy of the nation should be rendered doubly and trebly without excuse, and of hiding the tender infancy of the church within the canopy of a protecting sheath until it should grow strong enough to withstand all storms. Naturally, the effect of the continuance of Judaism was to conceal Christianity from notice through a confusion of it with Judaism--to save it thus from being declared an illicit religion--and to enable it to grow strong under the protection accorded to Jewish worship. So soon as the Jewish apostasy was complete and Jerusalem given over to the Gentiles--God deserting the temple which was no longer His temple to the fury of the enemies, of those who were now His enemies--the separation of Christianity from Judaism, which had already begun, became evident to every eye; the conflict between the new faith and heathenism culminating in and now alive almost only in the Emperor-worship, became intense; and the persecuting power of the empire was inevitably let loose. Thus the continued existence of Judaism was in the truest, since a restraint on the persecution of Christians, and it's destruction gave the signal for the lawless one to be revealed on his time..."
Finally, in this interpretation, the apostasy is obviously the great apostasy of the Jews, gradually filling up all of these years and hastening to its completion in their destruction. That the apostle certainly had this rapidly completing apostasy in his mind in the severe arraignment that he makes of the Jews in I Thess. ii. 14-16, which reached its climax in the declaration that they were continually filling up more and more full the measure of their sins, until already the measure of God's wrath was prematurely filled up against them and was hanging over them like some laden thunder--cloud ready to burst and overwhelm them,--adds an additional reason for the supposing his reference to be to this apostasy--above all others, "the" apostasy--in this passage..."
In this understanding of II Thess. chp. 2, we once again seeing God preparing His people for the horrible destruction which was coming against the old Jewish world and economy. It was so destructive that if the new Christians hadn't been warned, they would have thought that they missed the Second Advent of Christ.
As we see here in II Thess. 2:3, Paul warns them that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to gather together His saints must be preceded the great apostasy, falling away, and by the one who sets himself up as God and demands that everyone worship him as God.
As Warfield points out, this is easily followed through in regards to the Roman Emperors. In the account of Policarp's death, we see that if he would have only burned incense to Caesar and said, "Caesar is Lord," he would have been freed.
The early church who refused to do this, recognized Caesar as Lord, faced death in the dreadful manner.
The sword was against the false idol shepherd. That sword came as the word of God cut them to the very spirit and soul. That sword completely destroyed them when God's time was ready.