Beauty and Bands Broken Asunder

Zechariah Eleven


          Zechariah Eleven provided a picture of the overthrow of Judaism as the religion of God's people. This overthrow would include the destruction of the Temple that had been built with cedars from Lebanon. The ending of Judaism would come with the coming of the Messiah. The leaders of the Jews would be humiliated and brought low. The Jewish leaders were pictured as unfaithful shepherds leading the nation to slaughter. The Messiah would be the Shepherd that would save the flock. Likely, the three shepherds that would be cut off in one month were the Jewish prophets, priests, and kings. All three groups had failed both God and the people. The prophets prophesied for hire. The priests tolerated all kinds of false religions. They allowed the Temple to become a market place. (John 2:13-17) The kings of Israel had no moral or spiritual backbone to guide the people and stand for right. Jesus, the true Shepherd, served as prophet, priest and king. He was righteous in all areas of service.


          The words of Zechariah 11:9 fits well the destruction of Jerusalem. "Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another." God broke His staff called Beauty or Favor to show that the Jews would no longer be His people. Then the prophet identified the amount that the Messiah would be sold for, thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15) Judas returned the money and it was used to purchase a potter's field to be used as a cemetery for strangers. God then broke His other staff, Bands or Union. Under the New Covenant the bond between God and the Jews has been broken. In this age God's covenant people are those that obey Him from every nation. Sever woes are pronounced against the worthless shepherds. When people rejected the Lord, He withdrew His mercy from them. Let us learn that it is imperative that we obey the Lord.


          Judgment against the Jewish leaders and nation -- Zechariah 11:1-6: The leaders of God's people were called shepherds. Sadly they led the people away from God and into spiritual destruction. God brought the Jews back from bondage. The glory of God was enjoyed for many years. Now the prophet sees a time when their love and obedience has turned away. God's judgment would come upon the Jewish nation with the coming of the Messiah. During the time just before the coming of the Messiah there was a sad spiritual decline among the leaders in Israel. The leaders focused on their own self-interest instead of the spiritual interest of Israel. They were shepherds but they cared only for themselves and they cared nothing for God's sheep. God was with the people as they rebuilt and restored the Temple and the land. They walked with God and were blessed. Later as the Jews again turned their backs on God religiously He withdrew His blessings from them. The religious leaders were false leaders and the people did not oppose the corrupt prophets and priests. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jeremiah 5:31) The lament of this chapter is over the godless shepherds or spiritual leaders in Israel that led to destruction. Zechariah was allowed to feel the heart of God and then to act on His behalf. He was commanded to shepherd "the flock of slaughter." Worse than the treatment that Israel received in bondage was the neglect and poor leadership of her own kings!


          The wicked kings were rejected -- Zechariah 11:7-11: God took charge of feeding the sheep.  God called His people "the flock of slaughter." He called them this because the kings and priests treated them like sheep sent to slaughter just for their own profit. When the Messiah came the religious leaders were unfaithful shepherds leading the nation to slaughter. God still has a plan for the remnant which involved the ending of His covenant with the Jews and the beginning of Christianity. The three shepherds that would be cut off in one month were likely the prophets, priests, and kings. All three groups had failed both God and the people spiritually. The prophets were interested in themselves and prophesied for hire. The priests tolerated all kinds of false religions in order to maintain their high positions. The kings of Israel had no moral or spiritual backbone to guide the people and stand for God. God said "their soul also abhorred me." “God hated what these leaders had done because He said, "my soul lothed them." Blind spiritual leaders have always been repulsive to God.  God's staffs Beauty and Bands were broken. The covenant between God and Israel was broken because of their rebellion. The staff called Beauty or Favor was broken to show that the Jews would no longer be God's people. The other staff, Bands or Union was also broken. Israel sinned grievously against God that there was only a small little flock left of those who kept covenant with Him. It was by God's grace that a remnant was preserved until the coming of the Messiah. Under the New Covenant the bond between God and the Jews had been broken. The old Covenant was nailed to the cross of Jesus. (Colossians 2:14)


          The price that was paid for the Shepherd -- Zechariah 11:12-14: The Old Testament pointed to Jesus. One would have to have their minds veiled not to see this as a prophecy of the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 3:14-15) "And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD." (Zechariah 11:12-13) Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Later he regretted it and threw down the money in the Temple. Judas' money ended up in a potter's purse as a field was bought from him as a burying place for strangers. (Matthew 26:15, Matthew 27:1-10) Thirty pieces of silver was the amount of compensation to be paid to a slave owner if his slave was gored to death. (Exodus 21:32) Jesus was betrayed for the worth of a slave. The breaking of Bands was a picture of the breaking of the spiritual Union of Judah and Israel. The Jewish Law ended with the cross of Christ and this made way for Christianity, the new and living way.


          Warning for the evil shepherds -- Zechariah 11:15-17: The priests and shepherds of God's people were rejected because of their self-seeking attitudes. The unfaithful Jewish leaders faced condemnation and rejection. Throughout Zechariah 11 the sheep and the shepherd have been stressed. The sheep, Judah and Israel, had been led to slaughter by unfaithful prophets, priests and kings. This was especially true just before the Babylonian captivity. The only hope now was for a loving and compassionate shepherd that would come to help the people. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) God wanted Zechariah to picture a foolish shepherd. Jeremiah wrote, "For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge." (Jeremiah 4:22) It would not be a great surprise to see a foolish people submit to a foolish shepherd. The foolish shepherd will fail in his responsibilities and he will not help the scatter and broken. In contrast, Jesus, the true shepherd leads, restores, guides, comforts, feeds, and heals His sheep.


                  Those that serve God are blessed and those that rebel are punished. Is it your desire to honor God? If so it is time to become a Christian now! To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) After bap­tism follow Jesus in faithfulness as He leads you home to heaven. (Revelation 2:10)