Day 7. Twelve Days to Christmas
Zechariah 10:1 – 5
Zechariah 10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field.
10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd.
10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle.
10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together.
10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.
During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt. The Temple was central to Jewish worship. But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them? Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words. He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) “Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. “. Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them. But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.
If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God. They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.
Turn to God
In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness. These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers. Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!! The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment! The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.
They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.
These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God. Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty. The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so. Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests. Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail! So who were the people of Israel to follow? They were to follow the coming Messiah. Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd! From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.
Cornerstone: all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily. It held two walls together. The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple. If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right. The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together. Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.
Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms! This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.
Battle-bow: Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Messiah Shepherd to a battle-bow! This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep. He will battle for them. This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!
How is Jesus this Messiah?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied! That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father. That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.
And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Again in John 10:14-17 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34:11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.
And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear. Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit! For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.”
Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith – referring back to Isaiah 8:14. Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon. All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone! It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon. It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.
Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd. Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured! Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help! He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! Amen! Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 “Follow Me!“, so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life. Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.