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Beauty and Bands


Beauty and Bands!

Text: Zechariah 11:1f

A KING IS COMING!  This King is Jesus, and here we see his mission outlined, and we see a remarkable prophecy about the betrayal of the Lord.  See:-

1. The Storm of God’s Judgement!  V1-3

 God has spoken to his people. Still, Israel has been disobedient.  God will not overlook wilful disobedience in His people!  Prior to the coming of the Romans a great civil war erupted in Palestine.  Calvin sees this passage as a prediction of that war, and reckons that it is depicted here as God’s terrible warning of Judgement upon the land.  It is a truly dramatic passage!  The prophet sees a storm of destruction pouring down upon the land from the north.  

  • Lebanon is destroyed by fire!  What hope has the tender Cypress tree of southern parts, if the mighty cedars have fallen?  Is it any wonder that the land cries out and wails in pain.
  • Mighty forests have fallen!     Bashan was an area where cows grazed,  and a place of green fields, with tall solitary oaks. They will be consumed, and more weeping is seen!
  • Jordan’s banks are no longer a blessing!  The shepherds wail, for their ‘glory’ is laid to waste, their broad pastures utterly destroyed.  Even the lions have lost their homes by the river bank.  (The ‘pride of Jordan’ was an expression for the thick tangled undergrowth that existed along the river bank, where the wild animals found cover for their lairs).

Complete destruction!  What a picture of God’s judgement upon the land that has rejected him.  Yet it is the darkest hour before the dawn, for in a matter of years, into this awful wasteland, God is going to send a shepherd-king!   

2. The Shepherd of God’s Flock!

So God sends His Son, the One who would become known as ‘the Good Shepherd.’   Zechariah is ‘role playing’ here, and in that role play he is switching between characters – and if we keep that in mind will get great help in understanding the chapter.  The prophecy is given as a warning – a showing forth of the consequences of continual disobedience.  These things need not be so – yet this is exactly what happened.  Notice:-

  • The Destiny of Christ Rejecters! V4-6 The NKJV says, ‘Feed the flock for slaughter’ but the AV is more accurate, Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;.  The Amp. ‘Shepherd the flock that is destined for death!’  God’s people are described as a flock being fattened for slaughter!  Sometimes the only way to awaken a person to their plight is to make it absolutely clear to them, in unequivocal terms.  So God sends His Son, to be a shepherd to the people of Israel.  What will they do, will they turn from their wickedness and accept Him?  Will they repent and give their allegiance to the One who is their true King, who comes first to them?
    • They rejected Him in His birth! John 1:11    
    • They rejected His earthly Ministry!  Mark 6:3   Luke 4:28-29   
    • They rejected Him on the Cross!  Luke 23:18    John 19:15   One of the saddest episodes in the Bible occurs when the Jews of Jerusalem, speaking as the leaders of their nation choose sin and Pilate washes his hands, and says that he will have nothing more to do with this just man.  The Jews shout, (Matthew 27:25) Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 

What about us?  What about you personally?  If we reject Christ, like the Jews did, we are already part of the slaughter flock!  John 3:18   These people are trusting in false shepherds who have no pity upon them.

  • The Gospel offer revealed, rejected and renewed!  V9-11, 14. Here is Christ’s response to His Father’s Commission.  He is after all, a SHEPHERD, so He carries two shepherd’s staffs.  He calls them:-
    • Beauty!  The word is really ‘GRACE.’  God has been graceful with his wayward people.  He has shepherded them with great love and tenderness, even when they did not deserve it!
    • Bands!  The word is really UNITY.  Again, God has provided for unity and fellowship among his true people.

Now, see what happens to these two staffs, as Zechariah enacts his role before the people.  First he takes the staff called beauty/grace, and he breaks it in two before the people.  God WILL BREAK THE COVENANT THAT HE HAS WITH ISRAEL!  The Covenant between God and His people is often called THE COVENANT OF GRACE. God has broken the old rejected covenant with Israel, and established that Covenant of Grace with those who are IN CHRIST!  Hebrews 8:8    Hebrews 8:13  Hebrews 12:24  Then, he takes the other staff, the one called bonds/unity and he breaks it too!  The brotherhood of Israel is no more!   

  • The Shame of the Christ Rejecter! V12-13.  The next scene in Zechariah’s play.  Now he demands his wages as a shepherd!  And he receives them!  See:-
    • The Amount that he Received!  They give him 30 pieces of silver!  Now, this is a very significant amount.  It was the price of a slave.   The value of Christ to the Jews was the price of a slave! Matthew 27:9   
    • The Place where it was Spent!  Now that he has received his worth, Zechariah was told by God to take the money and throw it away – ‘throw it to the potter!’     The most shameful filthy guilty place!     

What happened to the money which Judas received for the value of Christ, God’s Son?  Matthew 27:7-10  It was used to buy the potter’s field!  They threw it to the potter!  Their value, placed upon the Saviour was so little that it was only the price of a slave, only worth the lowest place of all.   


3. The Summation of Zechariah’s Enactment of God’s Plan!  V15-17

There is one more act to this drama.  God now tells Zechariah to reverse his role and play the part of a foolish shepherd.  As he enacts the role of the false shepherd he shows how they will devastate the flock, tearing them limb from limb!  And he delivers God’s judgement!    There is a world of difference between the Good Shepherd and all the false and worthless and foolish shepherds of this world!  What a tragedy that although the Good Shepherd called to his flock and continued to extend His grace and unity and security from other nations, Israel did not respond!  Will we?

© Bob McEvoy August 2019

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