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True and False Shepherds. Zech 10

24/07/2019

True and False Shepherds

Text: Zechariah 10:1-6

But before Zechariah can continue on the theme of the coming king, he must firstly develop a number of important points.  He must call the people to prayer, and he must draw a distinction between true and false pastors!

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1. A Call to Approach God in Prayer! V1

Zech. 10:1  Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.  Israel was an agricultural society, and being in a hot land, with parched soil, they really depended upon rain!  It was a nightmare without it and a blessing when it came.  The blessing of rain, to the Israelites, was inclusive of every other blessing, and symbolical of all spiritual blessings.  So Zechariah uses that desire for blessing as an encouragement to pray. Ask the Lord for rain!  Seek His face and seek His blessing!   We must not only seek the former rain, but we must go on to seek the latter rain.  In Israel the ‘latter rain’ was the rain that fell at harvest time.  (Former rain in October fertilised the seeds, latter rain in March)  Let us pray for growth, for abundance and for maturity!

2. A Cry for Authentic Leadership! V2

Now we have to remember that in Israel, a shepherd could be any ruler over the people.  The prophets of God were considered to be shepherds.  The king was referred to as a shepherd, and so were governors and local leaders.  Anyone who gave leadership.  The role of a shepherd was well established.  A shepherd would 

  • Lead the flock,  Jeremiah 3:15  
  • Feed the flock.  Jesus pointed this out John 21:17 when he spoke to Peter.
  • Guard the flock against attack.  Jeremiah 23:4   In Acts 28 Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders (Shepherds) to Keep watch over the flock of God!  
  • Heal the flock.   The flock of God is under the shepherd’s care!  1 Peter 5:2  

So, the task of a shepherd, serving under to God to watch over His sheep is a very well defined task indeed.  But what of the spiritual and civil authorities in Zechariah’s day?  Zechariah refers to them as ‘false shepherds.’  How does he recognise them as such?  He gives us four clues as to how we might recognise a ‘false shepherd.’

  1. They indulge in IDOLATRY!    For the idols have spoken vanity.  Idolatry of course was specifically forbidden in Israel! Leviticus 19:4    It would be the task of the shepherd to point the people away from idols and towards the true and living God!  These shepherds were doing the opposite.  They were not only allowing the people to indulge in idol worship, but were actually encouraging it and promoting it themselves!  The false shepherd will not warn about the danger of idolatry, and indeed may actually encourage it!
  2. Their fidelity to the Truth is DOUBTFUL! and the diviners have seen a lie  A false shepherd will lead his people away from GOD’S TRUTH!  God’s people of course are to feed upon the Word of God!  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:2  It is our first food,  and remains our only food, right throughout our Christian life!  The good shepherd will lead his sheep into green pastures, where they will find food and nourishment, but the false shepherd will lead them away from God’s Word, away from God’s Truth!   
  3. They spread false DREAMS! and have told false dreams.  Shepherds who cloud reality.  It’s very closely related to the next clause in the verse, where this is expanded, for they not only create unreal expectations in people, but they give false comfort!  they comfort in vain  
  4. They provide NO LEADERSHIP! therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.  One sign of an unfaithful, false shepherd is a straying flock!  In fact it is more than just a consequence of bad shepherding that flocks scatter.  It is often a deliberate tactic of the false shepherd!  Jeremiah 50:6  

Why would anyone want to follow such men?  How could such shepherds get a grip over God’s people?  Is it not true that in our inherent sinfulness we will believe anyone rather than believe the Lord?  Won’t we by nature follow the man who will offer us the latest idol, or the most recent gimmick?

It is against this background that Zechariah calls the people to pray for the latter rain. To pray that God will awaken the people out of their lethargy and sleep, that they may leave off following after false shepherds and follow the Lord Himself!  Let’s follow the example of others who prayed until revival came.  

 

3. A Censure for the Abuse of the Shepherd’s Office! V3

The people of Israel had shepherds but they were false ones, who are leading them in a direction away from God and His Word.  The use of the phrase ‘goats’ in AV is interesting.  There are no goats among God’s people, just sheep and lost sheep! TV Moore thinks this is an allusion to the way that he-goats lead the goat-flock, with the rest of the herd following foolishly after him.  If so, then this is simply a reminder that when following false shepherds the people of God are acting more like the unregenerate world than like the children of God that they are meant to be!  Because they have led the people astray, these shepherds will be the first in line for the punishment that God will enact upon false pastors. Zech. 10:   This is very similar to the warning given by Jeremiah to the false shepherds of his day.  He said,  Jeremiah 23:2  

And what of today?  Are there not many false shepherds in the church of Christ?  Are there still not those who do not lead the sheep in paths of Biblical righteousness, who do not lead the sheep, feed the sheep, guard the sheep and care for the sheep?  There are and Christ speaks of them in Matthew 7:21-23.

Bob McEvoy July 2019

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