Posts Tagged ‘Sacrifice’

God’s Sacrifice of the Good Shepherd

Zechariah 12 ended with Israel’s return to the LORD through the once rejected but now embraced Messiah. And Zechariah 13 opens with the fountain flowing from their embrace of the Messiah. 
They now enjoy a fountain that brings cleansing for sin and for uncleanness. The cleansing comes after their mourning for the One whom they have pierced.

“According to the verse before us this provision is inexhaustible. There is a fountain opened; not a cistern nor a reservoir, but a fountain. A fountain continues still to bubble up, and is as full after fifty years as at the first; and even so the provision and the mercy of God for the forgiveness and the justification of our souls continually flows and overflows.” (Spurgeon–of course!)

Idolatry and false prophecy were the two principle ways Israel was led astray from God. God not only provides a fountain to cleanse, but He also promises to cut off the source of uncleanness – in this case, idolatry and false prophecy.

God promises ultimately to take away even the memory of our sin.

Zechariah prophesies a coming day when public opinion will not tolerate false prophets. There will be such a commitment to the LORD and His truth that even the family of a false prophet will condemn the false prophet.
The man accused of being a false prophet insists the scars on his body are not the self-inflicted wounds often associated with false prophets (1 Kings 18:28; Jeremiah 48:37), but merely the result of a brawl in his friend’s house. This unlikely, ironic explanation shows just how desperately people will avoid being identified with false prophets in this coming day Zechariah speaks of.
(Some take verse 6 as another Messianic prophecy in Zechariah, because Jesus was clearly wounded by those who should have been His friends. But the context demonstrates that this is about false prophets.)
But in the context starting in verse 7, and especially in light of the quotation of this passage in Matthew 26:31, we understand that the Shepherd is Jesus the Messiah – and it is God the Father Himself who calls for the Shepherd to be struck.
Zechariah relates a thought also said in Isaiah 53:10
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. 
The prophets Isaiah and Zechariah gloriously and emphatically, state that the suffering of the Servant of the Lord was ordained by the Lord. This was God’s doing! He gave the command to strike the Shepherd. Jesus was no victim of circumstance or at the mercy of political or military power. It was the planned, ordained work of the Lord God, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before it happened. This was God’s victory, not Satan’s or man’s triumph.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The Father and the Son worked together at the cross. Though Jesus was treated as if He were an enemy of God, He was not. Even as Jesus was punished as if He were a sinner, He was performing the most holy service unto God the Father ever offered.
Jesus quoted from Zechariah 13:7 in Matthew 26:31 in reference to the scattering of His disciples during His arrest and suffering. There is also a sense in which the disciples were a type of Israel as a whole in being scattered.
Without Christ and His work on the cross, we are without a Shepherd and are lost and scattered. Thank God for His provision.
O Pierced Shepherd, we thank You for being willing to take the punishment that was our due. O bless the heart that planned it! We pray Lord that You would guide the Bright Zone outreach. We take confidence that it is from Your hand, that we should live Beyond Ourselves and minister to those in our neighborhoods during these hard times.

I pray especially for these families: Birds, Babbilis, Brinkmans, Lundes, Harrisons, Harringtons, Mazrie-Goltehebrah, Goforths and the Wintons. That any stress or pressure they may be experiencing would drive them to You. And that any joy or thanksgiving they may be experiencing would draw their hearts to You! Give guidance to the committee as to how we all can be a part of this outreach, and that we will all be willing to live Beyond Ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen!
O Christ, it woke ’gainst Thee!
Thy blood the flaming blade must slake;
Thine heart its sheath must be;
All for my sake, my peace to make;
Now sleeps that sword for me.
(Anne R. Cousin)
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
(William Cowper)

Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
(Augustus Toplady)
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The Price of a Dead Slave

Zechariah 11:1-3 is often understood to be yet another history lesson for us (though it was a future lesson when Zack spoke/wrote it!). 
Some would say it describes the events of 70 AD when Vespasian and Titus came down through Lebanon to destroy Israel and Judah and Jerusalem. These Romans destroyed Jerusalem after the Good Shepherd was crucified. 
(Josephus, who was Jew taken into Vespasian’s family, recorded the whole event in his book called Wars of the Jews commissioned by Vespasian himself.)
But the rest of Zechariah 11 seems to be an allegory (difficult as it may be) that speaks of God fulfilling His promise. In it God speaks to a person yet unnamed (4) and tells him to pasture the flock “marked for slaughter.” They are so marked by their own leaders, who think only of the profit they can gain by selling out their people (4-6).
But when the Good Shepherd comes to care for the flock, and “particularly for the oppressed of the flock,” He is rejected! Though He rids them of false shepherds and seeks to guide them with grace (favor) and unity (union), He is detested by His sheep!
The first thing He does is remove three shepherds. Perhaps “these three shepherds should not be seen as three individuals but as three classes of individuals, namely: the prophets, priests, and kings of Israel.” (Boice) 
The offices of prophet, priest, and king were taken away from Israel after the Roman conquest of Judea and have never been restored – because they are now fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
But the sheep detest these acts, as well as the very Shepherd Himself. For His care for them, the only pay they offer is “thirty pieces of silver.” 
Strikingly, this price is the amount set in Old Testament law as compensation to be paid for a dead slave (Exodus 21:32)! And the price of the Good Shepherd is thrown “into the house of the Lord to the potter” (13).
The Gospels present this passage as a prophecy about Jesus. 
  • He came, announcing Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18). 
  • But the flock He came to pasture detested Him. 
  • The priests weighed out the price of a dead slave to Jesus’ betrayer (Matthew 26:14-16). 
  • And later, after Jesus’ death, the coins were brought back by a remorseful Judas and thrown into the temple. 
  • The chief priests picked up the coins and “decided to use the money to buy a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners” (Matthew 27:1-10). 
  • Thus the words of Zechariah found fulfillment in Jesus, as did the similar prophecy of Jeremiah (32:6-9).
With the Good Shepherd slain, the staffs of grace and unity are broken. He is replaced by worthless shepherds (14-17).
And so this chapter ends with the death of the Good Shepherd. But His death is not the end, for evil has not and will not overcome!
Whew Lord Jesus! We do not want to treat Your provisions with such disdain. We rejoice with what You are doing, and what You are yet to do. Help us to join You and be a part of it, rather than criticize and crucify the vision before we even see what it is all about. We do not want to be guilty of doing the very thing the Jews were guilty of when they nailed You to the cross 2,000 years ago…rejecting the provision of Jehovah!

Father, bless the Beyond Ourselves effort as it seems to throb of the very heartbeat of Jesus, just by the mere fact that we are other-focused rather than self-focused. Guide St. Philip’s exactly how they are to reach out to everyone in the Bright Zone, and raise up at least 300 people to be a part of this outreach!

I especially pray for the Harringtons, Harrisons, Goforths, Babbilis, Wintons, Lundes, Brinkmans and Mazrie-Goltehebrah. Lord, may these families be directly contacted and impacted by the Beyond Ourselves campaign and brought into a closer relationship with You! Amen!