I love reading the writings of John Walvoord. This dedicated scholar went home to his reward years ago. I humbly disagree with him on his view of rapture timing (I believe the saints are here for the tribulation but not the wrath), saints abandoning their God and thus disqualifying themselves from eternal life (ask Judas Iscariot, and Demas 2Tim 4:10), etc. Meanwhile John Walvoord has explained and taught me much, and I honor him and his work.
Zechariah is not an easy prophetic book, because the plan of God is not an easy plan. Zechariah chapters 10-14 addresses (then) near-future events, and also speaks all the way to Messiah’s (soon) return at the conclusion of this age. Almost diplomatically just lightly touching on the absolutely most severe “Jacob’s troubles” (Daniel 12, confirmed by Matt 24:21), Walvoord speaks in much greater clarity and clinical sobriety to 70AD and then almost lightly referencing some consecutive companion verses, assuming sober readers will themselves envision the activity on earth and the troubles upcoming to still-stubborn Israel towards the conclusion of this age – a remnant of whom will, because of the unmatched magnitude of trouble, finally turn to and cry out for their long-denied but at that time admittedly identified Messiah Y’shua.
The point of this exercise is to hopefully present a concise overview of circumstances that so dramatically are confirmed by analysis of eternal scriptural truth. Zechariah is not a friendly book to teachers who want to espouse a dominionism view of the world getting predominantly saved prior to the Lord’s return, nor does it fit in well with the related weak theory that 70AD checked the boxes for being the worst time in the history of mankind. Zechariah has to be embraced in its reality of context, and when that happens, much opens up in the spirit of the reader to the fullness of end-times prophecy and plans.
Like other tough portions of scripture, Zechariah was not written to freak out the people of God. It was written for our understanding and admonition, upon whom the end of the age has come (1 Cor 10). No further EZ commentary is required. I suggest you open your bible to the chapters in Zechariah and read along and speak with the Lord as you read.
First, here’s the Daniel verses referenced above
Prophecy of the End Time
1 “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.
4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Below is John Walvoord at his very best. Thank You, Lord, for this dedicated theologian and lover of Your word.
The divine deliverance predicted here will come on that day, a reference to the end time. God will care for them as a shepherd cares for his flock (cf. 10:3). Then Israel will sparkle in His land like jewels in a crown. This is a beautiful cameo of the fulfilled promises concerning the people in the land (cf. Amos 9:11-15). They will be attractive and beautiful symbols of all God has done for them. Divine blessing on nature will produce conditions of plenty (cf. Joel 2:21-27) so that physical health will also be assured (Zech. 9:17).
(3) Messiah Will Destroy the False Shepherds at His Coming.
The exhortation in verse 1 is transitional, indicating that the source of natural blessings (rain and plants of the field) is the Lord, not idolatrous and deceptive false shepherds (vv. 2-3). As a result of the deception by the false (and apparently foreign) prophets and diviners, God’s people wander like sheep. Therefore God announced that He would bring wrath and judgment on the false shepherds and victory to His flock (cf. Micah 5:4). The remedy for the nation’s deception focuses on the coming of the Messiah who is described in a fourfold way as the Cornerstone (cf. Isa. 28:16), the Tent Peg … the Battle Bow (cf. Ps. 45:5), and the Ruler (cf. Gen. 49:10; Micah 5:2). These terms emphasize the strong, stable, victorious, and trustworthy nature of Messiah’s rule. The Lord will not do all the fighting but will empower His people to conquer like mighty men. His presence (He will be with them) will enable them to be victorious.
(4) Messiah Will Regather All Israel (10:6-12).
The worldwide scope of this prophecy relating to both Israel and Judah and God’s activity on behalf of His Chosen People indicate that the final regathering of Israel just before the Second Advent of the Messiah is in view.
God announced that He will strengthen (cf. v. 12) and deliver all Israel (Joseph was the father of two major Northern tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh). Because of His compassion they will be restored and reunited (cf. Hosea 1:11), with their sins forgiven and forgotten — as though I had not rejected them, enjoying communion with God (I will answer them). The name of the northern tribe of Ephraim was sometimes used for the Northern Kingdom (cf. Hosea 10:6; 11:8, 12). Israelites will be glad and joyful and will rejoice in the Lord because of God’s blessings on them.
Israel will be regathered from present worldwide dispersion. God announced, I will signal for them. The term “signal” means “whistle” (as in gathering a swarm of insects; cf. Isa. 7:18) or “pipe” (as a shepherd using a reed pipe to gather his flocks; cf. Judges 5:16). The latter meaning seems more appropriate in view of the shepherd/sheep imagery in the general context (Zech. 9:16; 10:2-3; 11:4-16; 13:7). Their regathering will be accompanied by redemption and multiplication (10:8b; cf. Hosea 1:10). On the human side their return will involve the fact that they will remember God. On the divine side God said, I will bring them back. Egypt and Assyria are representative of all the countries of Israel’s dispersion (cf. Hosea 11:11; Zech. 10:11). Gilead and Lebanon are probably named to indicate the northern and eastern extents of Israel’s occupancy of the land promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18; cf. Deut. 30:3-5).
In regathering Israel to the land, God will remove every obstacle to restoration, pictured in terms of the ancient deliverance when He brought Israel through the sea on dry land. Again Assyria and Egypt were mentioned to represent all Israel’s enemies (cf. v. 10). The prophecy closes with its opening phrase, I will strengthen them, so that Israel’s behavior (walk) will be in His name (i.e., she will glorify Him by obeying Him).
3. The Rejection of the Good Shepherd and Its Consequences for Israel (Chap. 11)
This dark chapter conveys the cause for the delay in Israel’s realizing the blessings of chapter 10.
a. The coming of wrath introduced (11:1-3)
This lamentation portrays the impending devastation that will result from the people rejecting the Messiah as the True and Good Shepherd (vv. 4-14). The language obviously involves personification, but the references to the cedars of Lebanon … oaks of Bashan, and lush thicket of the Jordan suggest devastation of the entire land of Israel from the north to the south, including of course its inhabitants. All three areas — Lebanon, Bashan, and the Jordan — were heavily forested. Shepherds would wail because their pastures would be devastated. Even lions who lived in the thick woods around the Jordan River would roar because of the destruction of their living areas.
The general description of the devastation is to be taken literally. However, some writers have viewed the trees as representing the glory of Jerusalem, particularly the temple which was constructed, in part, of lumber. While this is doubtful, the general period of the destruction, whether literal or figurative, probably includes the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70.
b. The cause of devastation indicated (11:4-14)
In this difficult but messianically significant passage, Zechariah was directed by God to portray Israel’s true Shepherd-Messiah. Then (vv. 15-17) Zechariah was required to portray the wicked shepherd, pointing to the end-time Antichrist. The passage (vv. 4-14) is probably not intended to be a strict dramatic portrayal, for this would require the unlikely cooperation of other actors in the narrative. The passage focuses attention on Israel’s spiritual condition at the time of Christ’s ministry and the consequences of her rejection of Christ, the True Shepherd.
God told Zechariah, Pasture the flock marked for slaughter. To “pasture” includes not only feeding but also directing and defending. The “flock” was the nation Israel which God had designated for slaughter by the Romans.
There is debate whether the buyers of the flock and those who sell them were Jewish leaders or foreign oppressors. However, their own shepherds are Jewish leaders who would fail in their responsibilities to care for their people (cf. 10:3).
The climactic phase of Israel’s apparently pitiable condition was God’s withholding of pity: I will no longer have pity on the people of the land. This divine withdrawal seemed to result from the people’s rejection of their true Shepherd-Messiah, stated in verses 8-13. The king to whom God would hand over Israel was apparently the Roman emperor (cf. John 19:15, “We have no king but Caesar”). God would not deliver them from the Roman armies.
As commanded, Zechariah portrayed the work of a shepherd tending the flock marked for slaughter (cf. v. 4), especially the oppressed of the flock. This perhaps refers to the believing remnant at Messiah’s First Advent. Like any good shepherd, Zechariah took two staffs to use in directing and protecting the flock. The staffs were given the symbolic names of Favor (or beauty, grace, pleasantness) and Union (lit., bands or “ties”). They depicted God’s gracious benefits toward His people (cf. 9:14-17) and the internal union of Israel and Judah as a nation (cf. Hosea 1:11).
The identity of the three shepherds disowned by the True Shepherd is not indicated (accounting for the more than 40 interpretations of v. 8!). Most likely, the shepherds refer to three kinds of Jewish leaders — prophets (custodians of the Law), priests, and kings (or civil magistrates) — all of them inadequate. Closely linked to the disowning of the three shepherds is the flock’s disowning of their True Shepherd whom they detested, a word (used only here in the OT) that means to loathe to the point of nausea. The Messiah (portrayed by Zechariah) repudiated His role as Shepherd (I will not be your Shepherd), and He relegated the flock to their doom, involving foreign oppression (Let the dying die and the perishing perish) and internal civil strife (Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh). An alternate interpretation sees this last clause as speaking of the cannibalism that occurred in the Roman siege of Jerusalem in a.d. 70.
The revoked covenant (symbolized by breaking the staff called Favor) had been made with all the nations, apparently to secure God’s providential protection of Israel. The divine disfavor on Israel because of her rejection of the True Shepherd resulted in spiritual blindness (Rom. 11:25) and national destruction and dispersion. Only the believing remnant (the afflicted of the flock) who recognized Jesus as the true Messiah understood His true origin in God.
Israel’s appraisal of the True Shepherd’s worth was 30 pieces of silver, the compensation price for a slave gored by an ox (Ex. 21:32). Baldwin thinks 30 pieces of silver for a slave indicates the “high value set on human life” in the Mosaic Law (Zechariah, p. 184). Whether or not this is correct, the choice of the slave price was probably intended as an insult to the Shepherd, worse than a direct refusal to pay Him any wage. Throwing this handsome price (an obvious use of irony) to the potter shows its trifling worth (the potter was one of the lowest of the laboring class). This prophecy was fulfilled in Judas’ betrayal of Christ (Matt. 26:14-16; 27:3-10; for a survey of problems relating to Matthew’s citation of this passage, cf. Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968, pp. 340-2).
Zechariah then broke the second staff called Union to picture the dissolving of the national solidarity of Judah and Israel. Discord within the nation was one of the factors that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 and a new wave of worldwide dispersion.
c. The consequences of rejecting the True Shepherd (11:15-17)
After rejecting the True Shepherd, the flock of Israel will accept a foolish and worthless shepherd. This is a prophecy of the end-time Antichrist who will do the very opposite of Christ the True Shepherd (cf. John 5:43).
Zechariah was called on to portray a second prophetic role, this time a foolish shepherd. The Hebrew word rendered “foolish” (eveel) suggests a person who is a coarse, hardened fool. This shepherd will have no concern for the flock and its needs; he will be interested only in his own gluttony. Instead of defending the flock, the foolish shepherd will destroy it (cf. Rev. 13:7).
Thus the foolish shepherd is also a worthless shepherd who rightfully deserves the condemnation pronounced (Woe). The arm indicates his strength and the eye his intelligence. The foolish plottings of the worthless shepherd will be annulled when the True Shepherd returns (cf. 12:10; Rev. 19:19-20).
We’ll end there for now. Walvoord’s PRE-cap of his next session tells us this:
- The rejected King enthroned (chaps. 12-14)
Chapters 12-14 are one “oracle” (KJV, “burden”; cf. 9:1) concerning God’s people Israel. The events predicted deal with one future time period (except for 13:7) and center in the city of Jerusalem. Thus the prophecies of these chapters rank among the most significant in the Old Testament.