Back around Christmas time I was reading in my daily reading plan and came to be gifted with two candy canes from someone at the job. I put them in my wheelchair bag to later eat them but one somehow broke on me. I then was reminded of what I had been reading through in the Old Testament reading plan, and the prophet had been told to take two staffs and break each to symbolize events that would unfold.
—-This is what the Lord my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the Lord. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.” So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds. The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord. I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord. Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel. Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves. “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” (Zechariah 11:4-17)
“The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”
The Lord had taken care of his people yet they grew tired of him. They started turning to other gods and as a result the Assyrian nation as well as Babylon enslaved the people of Israel and Judah for 70 years.
Union- the second staff that was broken represented the family bond between the two kingdoms that became Judah and Israel, and until after the reign of Solomon they were united under one king but after Solomon died Rehoboam, Solomon’s son became king over Israel in the north and Jeroboam became king of Judah in the south.
“Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel. Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves. “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” —-Gentile kings for one took hold of both the nations of Judah and Israel but we also see this concept play out in the days of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Pharisees and religious leaders used God’s Law to oppress the people and not point them to the True Shepherd (Jesus) who said:
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11-18)
Sin came to divide Judah and Israel, and sin divides people of today. What can we learn from this passage in Zechariah?
Well first of all, sin brings separation and creates barriers between people. Secondly, it drives a wedge between us and the God who created us and everyone else! Yet the good news is, in spite of leaders who sin and misuse positions of power or influence, there is one Shepherd who will do justly and righteously, and judge all according to impartial equity. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd and as Psalms 23 says “The Lord is my shepherd” and Jesus is not some cruel and overbearing taskmaster that is disinterested in the lives of people. God is holy and righteous and hates sin and we see his anger toward it throughout especially OT literature but can we see why? Sin drives us from Him, the only true source of hope and a sustaining source of well being.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
God not only is angered by sin and trusting in idols and gods that are not, but grieved. He knows we need him far more than we realize. God is at times compassionately angry! Suppose you are a parent of a teenage son or daughter who starts to pursue a reckless course of life and you try to talk the sense into them but they do the thing we as young people do, say “Whatever, stay out of my life!” Parents can relate to this concept yet we seem to divorce God’s anger toward sin from his compassion and love for mankind? Why?
God is both angry and compassionate- he hates sin and sees it as an affront to who he is- yet he is compassionate and pities sinners who suffer the misfortunes of their own sin!
Therefore, Jesus came to rescue sinners as the Shepherd King the God anointed to bring two kingdoms under his Lordship, Judah and Israel, but also reconcile the World to Him.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 –
Christ removed the barrier between us and one another and us and God. We must lay hold of this though and receive it!