Zechariah 10 (contd.) – Sheeple

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Today’s PassageZechariah 10

Today we’re back at it again at Zechariah 10. You may recall Zechariah 9’s prophecy of the Messiah approaching Jerusalem while riding on a donkey. Zechariah 10 isn’t quite so overt, and I’m not sure if you could technically say it contains any Messianic prophecies, but it does seem to be relevant to Jesus’ ministry in how it discusses sheep and shepherds.

The sheep and shepherds come in by way of simile. Zechariah observes that Israel is being led astray: “For the teraphim [i.e. idols] speak iniquity, and the diviners see lying visions and tell false dreams” (2). He compares the misguided people to sheep: “Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted because there is no shepherd” (2). What makes the people like sheep? Poor spiritual leadership. Prophecy intermingled with prevarication and idolatry has sown seeds of confusion in Israel.

There is no shepherd, and yet there are shepherds. The leadership that exists isn’t really leading. God says, “My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; for the Lord of hosts has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His majestic horse in battle” (3). The goats are leading the sheep! Goats have no business leading sheep. Thus, God will make his flock like his warhorse. Yes, that’s the entire flock, like a single horse. Sometimes prophecy is weird. We’ve already been over this.

I’m certain Matthew had these verses in mind as he wrote his gospel. He clearly knows his Zechariah, quoting explicitly from 9:9 as he recounts the Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:5). And here’s how he puts it as Jesus surveys his countrymen, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). The people are agitated. And as in Zechariah’s day, they lack spiritual leadership and direction, leaving them to wander in confusion.

It’s hard to admit, but we’re still sheeple today. We’re all running around in ten million different directions, neck-deep in our political and economic anxieties, distracted by the chaotic wreck of a world that we’re making together. We need someone big enough to see it all and provide direction. Some things never change, and just as much then as today, we need someone bigger than a single sheep, someone with a broader perspective.

We need a shepherd and a savior. We need Jesus Christ.

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