SMITE THE SHEPHERD
Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
A careful study of these last verses of chapter thirteen, with those of “Chapter Fourteen” will convenience a serious student of the scriptures that chapter fourteen should actually begin here. For the truths found in the fourteenth chapter tend to amplify and extend the meaning of God’s word revealed in 13:7-9.
For example, 14:1-2 reveal how the flock is to be scattered once the shepherd is smitten. And 14:2B-5 reveals God’s hand over the little ones. But we will save those comments for a later article.
Who is this shepherd?
This is the LORD of hosts speaking. And he first identifies this shepherd as, my shepherd. He is the one whom the Lord God raised from the dead! Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, He is, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ!
This is farther confirmed when the LORD of hosts refers to him as, my fellow. This Hebrew word is the word mostly translated neighbor. (Lev. 6:2; 25:14,15). It carries with it the meaning of “an associate,” or one with whom “companionship” is to be had. And with whom is the LORD of hosts said to be in personal companionship with? The scriptures tell us that it was the Person of Wisdom, who is the Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 1:30). Wisdom speaks in Proverbs 8:22: The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
And then in Zechariah 12:10 we find the Lord’s close identification with his shepherd even in these afflictions. For there he states; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced… He is the one doing the smiting in 13:1. But here in 12:10, he is identified as the one pierced. For, I and my Father are one. (John 10:30). I can’t understand all that happened, but that was God who died on the cross!
There can be no doubt as to whom this refers!
We don’t need Dr. Bottlestopper’s commentary to affix a true identity to this shepherd. For we have the very preaching of the Person of the Word himself. Listen at his message as recorded in Matthew 26 after the last supper.
Matthew 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
The Lord Jesus actually quotes this verse and applies it to himself and his crucifixion! But even then the disciples didn’t know the mystery of God regarding the cross. John 12:16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
Due to their misunderstanding of the kingdom, Peter leads them in denying that they could possibly be offended in him! But, as we said, they had no concept of the cross and its offense even to the religious man! Matthew 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Consider these words: Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
The LORD of hosts called forth the sword!
We have established that the shepherd is the Lord Christ. And in verse seven of our text we can clearly see that it is the LORD of hosts who calls forth his sword against him! For God so loved that he gave his only begotten Son! It was God that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all! (Romans 8:32).
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,…All of these phrases tell us that it was the Father who was pleased to offer the Son! The Jews did not originate it. That would have just been an assassination! The Romans did not originate it! That would have just been an execution! But the Father offered him, and that is a sacrifice! This alone was the Father’s will!
Hebrews 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Therefore we see that it was the Father’s sword which smote His Shepherd! And when that sword of God’s justice is set forth, none can restrain it! Jeremiah 47:6 O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. 7 How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it. But what of the words in Zechariah 12:10, already mention in this article? For when the Holy Spirit is given, one of the results shall be that they shall look upon me whom they have pierced… Here the Lord tells that it was these sinners who pierced the Lamb of God! Which was it? God says he did it in Zechariah 13:7, but that they did it in Zechariah 12:10! So! Which is true?
It was both! Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: It was God’s eternal predestination that determined it, but it was the wicked hands of men that carried it out! Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
As far as God is concerned, he was indeed, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8.
God’s hand turned to the little ones.
It is so amazing how the Old Testament revelations set forth the exact precedents that the New Testament continues to extend. Without a completed atonement, without the Incarnation and without Pentecost, and even by people living in a different kind of world, and from different walks of life, the Holy Spirit brings forth through this all the one theme of Christ and his cross! And the next phrase is one of those amazing revelations.
…and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. The sword in God’s hand is to smite his shepherd. Then that same hand shall turn to the little ones, who are the entirety of the believers that make up the church. For God only has one Son without sin, but he has none without a cross!
Peter, who was offended by the cross, even unto the denial of Christ, later came to instruct us not to think the cross a strange thing when applied to our own lives. 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
And he also writes that the sword of the Lord which fell on our Shepherd, did so also as an example for our own personal sufferings. Therefore all the little ones of faith and belief shall have their turn on their prescribed crosses. 1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
But being little ones we shall suffer, not in the magnitude of the afflictions of Christ, who was abandoned by the Father’s mercy, but only in common to man trials! 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
The life of the spiritual man in the kingdom of God therefore requires, not only a new, or spiritual birth, but also a continued spiritual death! John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
Notice that it says that death worketh. For it most certainly is one of those things that works together for the good of those who love the Lord! (Romans 8:28). 1 Corinthians 15:31 … I die daily.
The true, Spirit born believer is a living dead man! He now participates in the death-life! Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
And what was the result of the sword’s work? We see it in verses eight and nine of our above listed text. The cross is not only a purifying agent, but it is also a great dividing agent! For fully two thirds of those dealt with are cut off from the presence of the Lord.
Phil. 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
But it shall most certainly purify! 1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
May God grant endurance. Bro. Gene.
PRESSURES JUST LIKE HIS
Our gracious Master has seen fit,
In bringing His children home;
To cause their hearts to know His ways,
Their lives made like His own.
His heart yearned for Jerusalem.
He wept for it His tears.
Their hearts too shall yearn and weep,
Throughout their earthly years.
“Man of Sorrows,” was His name.
Shall they no sorrow know?
In Lamb-like meekness He was slain,
Shall they not be also?
In all those teeming multitudes,
No one ever knew His mind.
And they, like Him shall ever search,
To find many of their kind.
Acquaint yourself with loneliness.
Become a companion of grief.
And He shall mould you like Himself,
Only then to grant relief.
“And they shall be like Him” one day.
They “shall see Him as He is.”
But not without some pressures, friend;
Some pressures just like His!
But when they look back upon their lives,
From the time of His first call,
Considering themselves in that eternal day;
They’ll say, “It was worth it all!”
Bro. Gene Breed
June 28, 1977.