The Lord calls the corrupt leaders in the Promised Land majestic “cedars” that will be cut down, “lions” that will have no remaining habitat in which to hide, and “shepherds” who will “wail” when they finally realize that “their glory is ruined.” This final metaphor was developed further in the remainder of the chapter.
While Zechariah himself was called to be a “shepherd of the flock,” Jehovah’s voice was always to be the one that His sheep would follow. Instead they listened to those who had “no pity on them.” Such false ambassadors hoped to profit off the demise of the Lord’s children. Every “neighbor” and “king” stood ready to betray the weak.
In light of this alarming infidelity, God would bring the Old Covenant period to an end. The Lord’s “favor” would appear to be withheld for a time, and any hope of a healthy “union” of Israel and Judah would have to wait until a better era when Jews and Gentiles together would live in peace under the reign of the Messiah.
How would the promised Christ come to prominence in future centuries? Zechariah wrote of a “worthless shepherd” and about “thirty pieces of silver” paid to a man “who deserts the flock.” Judas would not be faithful to his Lord, but would sell the Lord of glory into the hands of adversaries. Nonetheless, even this lowest of all moments was part of God’s plan that would eventually lead to the astounding preeminence of Jesus.
As devastated as Judas was on the dark day when he was overtaken by despair (Matthew 27:3), Jesus Himself went far lower for our sake by becoming a curse for us. Through His righteous life, more precious than gold, our redemption price has been paid. Because of the success of His atoning sacrifice, the shame of the cross has been more than overruled, and we are able to find hope even when our worst fears seem to have defeated us.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, we are so prone to wander, for we take glory in things that do not last. Our idolatry has brought much trouble upon many people. Please grant favor to Your chosen ones because of Your love for Your Son. Bring about a new union of Your children, for we have been drawn together through Christ, the Suffering Servant. He gave His life for us, and is a completely faithful Shepherd. He has served You to the end, and has saved us by the gift of His own blood.