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Zechariah 10-11: The Sovereign Leadership of the Lord Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 April 2010

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One of the reasons that I believe in expositional preaching is that it causes me to preach a passage like the one we are considering this morning.  There are some passages that lend themselves to preaching and others that are more difficult.  Then there are passages that deal with difficult ideas (judgment, suffering, etc.).  And then there are passages that are just hard to understand in general, much less preach about.  In my opinion, Zechariah 10-11 falls into the latter category.  It is not easy to understand what Zechariah is teaching us here, particularly in chapter 11.  Yet, I believe that all of the Bible is relevant for us today.  I believe in expositional preaching.  And I am pretty certain that if I just skipped this passage, someone would know!  Thus, we turn our attention this morning to Zechariah 10-11 (looking to the Spirit’s guidance).

Let me begin by giving an overview of the two chapters.  Chapter 10 includes the promise of God to restore Israel and to lead her in spite of her unfaithful shepherds.  This promise of restoration is similar to others that we find in the prophets, including a judgment on Israel’s enemies that carries over into chapter 11.  Yet, in 11:4 a shift occurs.  At this point it seems that God is instructing Zechariah to role-play the part of a shepherd.  The prophet obeys and immediately rejects the other worthless leaders.  Yet, the people reject Zechariah’s leadership and force him out.  God then has Zechariah take up the role of a foolish shepherd to govern the people.  Although some of the details are indeed difficult, it does seem that the point of these chapters is to highlight Israel’s need for faithful shepherds/leaders and in particular Israel’s need for the leadership of God.  Zechariah gives us several reasons why the Lord’s leadership can be trusted.  I want us to spend our time considering these reasons.

First, the Lord is sovereign over nature (10:1-3a).

As throughout the history of Israel, the people are desperate for rain.  Since they are an agrarian society, they need rain to survive.  Chapter 10 begins with Zechariah’s encouragement to the people to ask the Lord for rain.  Look at verse 1.  Why does Zechariah need to tell the people to do this?  Look at verses 2-3a.  It appears that many in Israel were turning to household gods and diviners for help.  Not only that, but it seems that turning to their shepherds, or leaders, was no better.  For this, the Lord’s anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders. 

Instead of leading the people to look to the Lord and trust in His providence, it seems the leaders were no better than the household gods and diviners.  They may have even been encouraging the people to look to these other sources for help and comfort.  But Zechariah reminds them that when it comes to rain, there is only One who is in control.  No rain dance will do.  No manipulation will work.  Rather, they are to look to God and trust in Him to provide the rain.  He is sovereign over the rain.  And before we move on to the second reason, let me just note at this point that good leaders will recognize that there are things that only God controls.  Yes, leaders must take responsibility to lead well and serve the people, but sometimes they must simply humble themselves and recognize the sovereign protection and provision of the Lord.  Resorting to giving the people false security in other measures is worthless and only empty consolation.
Second, the Lord is sovereign in battle (10:3b-5).

In any type of battle, it is always good to have the best warrior on your side.  The glorious good news for God’s people is that there is no better warrior than the Lord our God.  He is our Warrior and the battle belongs to Him.  Zechariah encourages the people with this thought in 10:3b-5.  Look at those verses with me.  Notice why the Lords leaders will fight faithfully in verse 5: they shall fight because the Lord is with them.  The Lord will be their strength and He shall give them victory over their enemies.  The leaders that the Lord will raise up will be strong in battle and thanks to Him, they will have victory.  We can trust in Lord’s leadership because no enemy can have victory over Him.  He is the Sovereign Warrior for His people.

Third, the Lord is sovereign over all nations (10:6-11:3).

The Lord is in control of the nations.  Zechariah teaches us this truth by beginning with Israel.  Look at 10:6-7.  The Lord is going to care for His people.  They can trust in Him because He is committed to them, He is their God and they are His people.  He shall fill them with joy and gladness.  It is no small thing to be called the people of God.  It only happens because I have compassion on them.  But when it happens, our hope is secure.  When the Lord sets His affection on a people and has compassion on them, then their hearts shall be glad as with wine and their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord.  The Lord is sovereign over Israel and He is committed to restoring their joy.  Thus, they can look to Him and trust in Him.

Not only this, but as we have seen before, the Lord is also sovereign over the nations.  Many in Israel may have wondered about all the people who had been taken into captivity.  Yet, the Lord had shown them that He can bring them back because He even controls foreign kings.  Look at how this is described in Zechariah in verses 8-12.  Notice how many times the Lord says ‘I will’ in verses 6-12.  I will strengthen…I will save…I will bring them back because I have compassion…I will whistle for them for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them…I will bring them home…I will make them strong.  Is chance controlling this?  Is Israel saving themselves?  Are the foreign kings in charge?  No, the Lord is sovereign over all of this.  He is bringing all of this to pass.  He is sovereign over all the nations.  In fact, the leaders in the nations will weep and wail because of the Lord’s judgments.  Look at 11:1-3.  The Lord will have victory over all for none can stand before His sovereign reign.  Thus, His people can trust in His leadership because He is sovereign over them and their enemies.

Fourth, the Lord is sovereign over all leaders/shepherds (11:4-17).

As I said earlier, a shift takes place in verse 4 of chapter 11.  Yet, I believe that Zechariah is still giving his readers reasons why they can trust the Lord.  In these verses the Lord is making it plain that He is sovereign over all of the leaders/shepherds in Israel.  How does the Lord teach us this?  First, he tells Zechariah to role play the part of a shepherd.  Look at this in verses 4-6.  The current leaders were unfaithful (as we saw in 10:2b-3a) and the Lord wants Zechariah to represent a faithful shepherd.  Zechariah obeys the Lord’s command in verse 7.  Look at that with me.  He takes up two staffs: favor, which represented the favor they had with the nations and union, which represented the unity in Israel.  Yet, something immediately goes wrong.  Look at verses 8-14.  Zechariah drives out three of the worthless shepherds, but the people still reject him.  Thus, he tells them that he will no longer be their shepherd and he breaks the two staffs, symbolizing their loss of favor with the nations and their lack of unity as a people.  This is not what we might expect.  So then, is the Lord sovereign over this rejection?

The Lord is sovereign ever over the rejection of the people.  Granted, they are still responsible for their actions, but the Lord is still sovereign.  How do I know this?  First, the Lord is not caught off guard by the people’s response but immediately has Zechariah act out their future judgment.  Look at verses 15-17.  This prophecy seems to be fulfilled by Titus when he destroys Jerusalem in 70 a.d., which points to God’s sovereignty even over the rejection.  But second, I know that God is sovereign even over the rejection because of what these events point to, namely Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  Do you remember the price that Judas received for betraying Christ?  Matthew tells us that the religious leaders paid him thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).  Likewise, how was that money used?  Zechariah took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.  Judas likewise threw down the pieces of silver into the temple and the money was used to purchase the potter’s field (Matthew 27:5ff). 

Zechariah’s actions and the prophecy that the Lord gives Him points us to Christ.  One of my commentator’s brings it all together in this way: “When we look for a shepherd-leader whom the nation’s rulers rejected for thirty pieces of silver at a time when the nation fell into foreign hands, the New Testament stands insistently before us, urging us to look at Christ, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), who was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15, 27:3, 9).  Only forty years after his rejection by the civil and religious leaders of his time, the cruel events of a.d. 70 occurred.”1  In light of this, it is not hard to conclude that the Lord is sovereign even over the rejection of Zechariah, since it pointed to the coming rejection of Christ.

So then, why should God’s people trust Him to lead?  We should trust His leadership because He is sovereign over all things.  He is sovereign over the things that are beyond our control, like nature.  He is sovereign in battle and He always wins.  He is sovereign over us and over all our enemies.  And He is sovereign over all leaders in all situations.  He is even sovereign over the rejection of His own Son, who He sent to be our Shepherd and to suffer for our sins.  How should we respond to such news?

First, we should encourage our leaders to follow the leadership of God.  This passage is a critique of the unfaithful leaders in Israel who were seemingly not leading the people to trust in the Lord.  We need leaders who will be faithful in this task.  We need leaders who will look to the Lord and the directions that He has given in His Word so as to lead us in following Him.  We do not need leaders who have their own ideas.  We especially do not need leaders who call their ideas God’s ideas.  We do not need leaders who give us empty consolation simply because something ‘works’ or ‘produces results.’  No, we need humble men who recognize their dependence upon God and look to His Word to lead His people.  May the Lord give us such leaders and may we encourage them as they follow the leadership of God.

Second, we ourselves should trust in the leadership of God.  If you are here and not a believer, then this begins by repenting of your sins and trusting in Christ.  He was rejected by men, crucified on a cross, and raised from the dead.  All following after God and trusting in Him begins by repenting of your sins and believing in Christ’s sacrifice.  For those who are followers of Christ, I encourage you to take Him at His Word.  Do not try to be wiser than the Bible.  Do not think that it will ever lead you astray.  He is worthy of your complete trust and obedience.  May we be those who follow the sovereign leadership of our God.  Amen.

Tomas Edward McComiskey, The Minor Prophets, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), p. 1201.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 April 2010 )

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