The Flock Doomed to Slaughter
11 Open your doors, O Lebanon,
that the fire may devour your cedars!
Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,
for the glorious trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
for the thick forest has been felled!
The sound of the wail of the shepherds,
for their glory is ruined!
The sound of the roar of the lions,
for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined!
Thus said the LORD my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the LORD. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”
So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Then the LORD said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.
“Woe to my worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
his right eye utterly blinded!”
Zechariah 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
A shepherd’s role is pretty important. His job is to first and foremost care for the sheep of his. This involves leading them to pastures of rest and where food is to be found. This is keeping watch over his flock so predators may be thwarted from attack. A good shepherd is one who knows his sheep, keeps count continually through the drive from place to place, and goes after one that strays. A shepherd who is worth his salt keeps his eye on the horizon as well – knowing where he’s leading, diligently directing the sheep to the next place. He knows where he’s going and keeps driving them to that place.
Jesus spoke a lot about being the Good Shepherd throughout the Gospels. These words of His are beautiful. He is the ultimate Shepherd.
As we dig into this chapter though of Zechariah speaks toward the shepherds, the leaders of the religious establishment who were called and destined to lead the people to God. There are 3 evil shepherds referenced of whom we don’t know who these were but their fate is written as they failed to lead the people. They did not fulfill the roles given as a shepherd. And even prophetically, when the ultimate Good Shepherd came to this world, they were the ones who were bent on evil and rid themselves of Him.
Leaders within any given part of the Body of Christ are shepherds. God has called them to such a position and the reality is they must not only heed the call, act upon it, but shepherd His sheep and lead them. It is a terrific tragedy when God’s appointed leaders fail to care for their flock adequately. It is a high responsibility He does not take lightly.
In fact, He holds leaders particularly accountable for what they do and how they lead. James wrote, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers… because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) When God places us in a position of leadership, there are deep spiritual responsibilities we each hold.
It is a sobering thought to consider that the positions we have within the Body of Christ are likened to that of a shepherd of which God takes great interest in our leading and directing us toward being worthy of leading. The accountability He places on each of us is something we must consider and look toward.
Zechariah 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The LORD my God said to me, “Act the part of the shepherd of a flock of sheep that are going to be butchered.Zechariah 11:4 GNB
Zechariah was called to “act the part” of shepherding a disobedient flock. But there is more to the story than just what was asked of Zechariah. This was a prophecy about Jesus, the True Shepherd.
Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed my wages, 30 pieces of silver. 13 “Throw it to the potter,” the LORD said to me—this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the LORD, to the potter.Zechariah 11:12-13 HCSB
The thirty pieces of silver is a familiar number. This is the same amount of money that Judas accepted when he betrayed Jesus. Another interesting detail is that the money was given to the potter.
“The money to betray Jesus – His purchase price – went to buy a potter’s field (Mat 27:7). A potter’s field was a piece of useless land where he threw his broken, damaged, and rejected pots. Jesus really did purchase the potter’s field – the place where broken, rejected, and useless people like us are scattered.”David Guzik
If you remember, Judas was filled with guilt and threw the money back onto the temple floor. The priests then gathered that money and used it to buy a potter’s field. These details are fascinating, but this is not where the prophecy ends.
“I am about to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are going astray, and he will not seek the lost or heal the broken. He will not sustain the healthy, but he will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hooves. 17 Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock! May a sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm wither away and his right eye go completely blind!”Zechariah 11:16-17 HCSB
The worthless shepherd speaks of a time when the antichrist will rule over all people. He will survive a severe wound (Rev 13). He will not seek God’s Kingdom of seeking the lost or healing the broken (as Jesus did on Earth) but will devour others tearing them to pieces.
Just consider – the God we serve is not a God who is surprised. He doesn’t worry and He is never anxious. The future is in His hands. But also consider – He warns His faithful servants of the struggles they will face long before they happen. He reveals truth in His grace. He prepares us to go forward by giving us everything we need to walk in obedience. If we truly trust in such a God and Savior, whom should we fear?