“Open thy doors oh Lebanon so the fire may devour your Cedars (trees).” Zechariah 11:1 in multiple commentaries present all types of meaningful and some meaningless guess work. We take the high road. Lebanon is well known for its fabulous Cedars. It must mean in end time the great Cedars of Lebanon will be destroyed by fire. Perhaps “in that day” of final judgement.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare”. [NIV; II Peter 3:10] PS: as go the great Cedars of Lebanon are destroyed by fire. [cf. Zechariah 3:8; 2 Peter 3:11,12; Jeremiah 7:20…My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.
God means precisely what HE writes through Zechariah 11 and noted by Peter in the New Testament. The elements of earth will be destroyed by fire including the great Cedars of Lebanon. A second commentary suggests this is possibly the destruction of the enemies of Israel coming from the north. What we do know is God will reunite the separated Tribes of Israel. They will become the center of the world and Christ will rule within it greatly expanded boarders. A third “guess”? It is the destroyed Temple itself by Romans in 70 A.D. That Temple was mostly built of Cedar from Lebanon [Ezra 3:11] by the remnant of those who returned from Babylonian captivity. One with Zerubbabel, a second return with Ezra and a third return with Nehemiah. (c.f. cut and paste http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2013/03-05a.html) Three waves of exile and three waves of release and return to rebuild the Temple.
Zechariah 11:2 gives insight into verse 1. “Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled…” The mighty [‘addı̂yr meaning the powerful] are spoiled [shâdad meaning those who destroy or ravage]. This gives credence to the second possibility in the previous paragraph. Enemies or mighty armies from the north who descend upon Israel (Jerusalem) to destroy it. The first frontal attack is destroyed i.e. the great Cedars (soldiers) of the north. The weaker firs (lessor forces attacking from the east) are warned that the greater forces (represented by the Great Cedars) from the north have already been destroyed.
Zechariah 11:3 & 4 go together. Those within Israel “in that day” will howl for a way out, avoidance of pending destruction as they watch others being destroyed by none other than God. It is historically true that Israel as-a-whole does not heed God until they are in a situation where there is no other escape option available. As noted throughout the Old Testament God says: “Then they will know I am their God.” Verse 4 regarding “feed the flock” means to give instruction to them. Feed them the covenants and promises from God that are exclusive to Israelis. Give them an opportunity to again repent. Back in Zechariah’s time they did NOT return to God. “In that day” of inevitability, they will completely heed the voice of God as a nation.
Zechariah 11:5 takes us back to the lack of a shepherd over those, the flock who remain in Judah (Israel). The leadership is fake and without the guidance of God. They profit off their own people (flock) and proclaim it is a blessing from God. Oh, the penalty of this sin is going to be great. It was back then and “in that day” yet to come, it will be even more severe. They sold their own into slavery, became wealthy and committed the unforgivable by publicly thanking or giving credit to God who did not bless them this way. Their real purpose for so doing was to divert their sinful actions by claiming amongst themselves that the proceeds were rewards for “following G-d’s will”. This is so unforgivable. These false shepherds of Judah/Israel give credit to a god, not God. But, in their deceptive use of these claims and words hoped the listener is thinking God, not god. An abomination! [cf. Galatians 6:3; Acts 5:4]
Zechariah 11:6 This writer had a brother who when lectured or instructed by our mutual earth-father to do something, would listen with muted ears, then go out and do precisely as he originally planned. Essentially, this is the core meanings of verse 6. Though my brother was fed the reality of many wrong and dangerous situations if he proceeded, he continued to pursue his original plans. Even the poor of Zechariah’s audience were guilty of not listening. Eventually, just as with my brother, God gave up even trying to get their ear. They were made aware and knowledgeable of pending doom but did not [want to] believe it.
Zechariah 11:7 is well explained by James Montgomery Boice per the two [shepherd] staves; one named Beauty (grace or favor) and the other named Bands (unity, union, or measuring line; see verse 14).
“Favor symbolizes the favored status of Israel as the chosen people of God. Union symbolizes the internal harmony of the people that was lost at the time of the siege of Jerusalem.” (Boice)
The two staves were broken by Zechariah thus demonstrating these conditions or covenants between God and Israelites no longer existed…until “in the day” of the Millennial Reign. This is emphasized in Zechariah 11:7-*11. There would no longer be any favor from God to his chosen until the end. Now they are dispersed to the four corners of the earth many losing their identity as the chosen people of God. Did the reader catch this? No longer any favors or preferential treatment orchestrated by God on their behalf until “in that day.” If one has followed just a few of the holocaust-type of events in Hebrew history since this time of Zechariah, we can easily see they no longer have his special blessing…until In That Day.
*Take note of verse 11. [Even] the poor of them “in that day” were forced to recognize the chord and bond with their God was no longer a covenant; the staves were cut in two. Did they understand and ultimately convince themselves to change? NO! History shows us the fulfillment of this prophetic demonstration by Zechariah. Zechariah was not making friends, but he certainly was influencing people’s attitude about his nay-saying.
Zechariah 11:12 accentuates the previous paragraph per verse 11. Zechariah is telling his own people, if they believe him give him his due allowance, heed his words, but if not, continue in their evil ways (JIV). They opted for the latter by adding insult to injury. They gave Zechariah the insulting “allowance” (or pay) of 30 pieces of silver, the price for a minimally valued slave. This is also the price descendants of the same people (their leadership) 500 years later paid Judas for selling-out Jesus. In both Zechariah and time of Jesus, it is a demonstration of absolute contempt by the Jews for Zechariah, God’s covenants, and their Messiah Jesus.
Forget the political correctness of accusation. We KNOW (yadda) that the Jews crucified Jesus using the Roman judges as executioners, so the blood of Jesus was not [supposedly] on their hands. Today they cry…the Romans did it! We are innocent.
JIV NOTE: The Hinnom Valley is also known as the Valley of Gehenna i.e. Hell. King Manasseh ruled for fifty-five years—the longest reign of all the Hebrew kings (2 Chronicles 33:1-2). Even though Manasseh had one of the godliest fathers in their history, Manasseh was Judah’s worst king. He lived just like the godless nations God destroyed by bringing Israel into their land. Hinnom is southwest of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is in the northeast of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 11:14-17 points to another shepherd over Israel. One thought is this may be the antichrist of the Tribulation. The false prophet with a signed promise of 7 years of peace. He arrives on a white horse with bow in hand…NO ARROWS…but a crown is given to him. “He will not care for those who are cut off” (V16).
A second reasonable thought of this “foolish shepherd” is not the antichrist but a shepherd or leader in Israel who will sell out Israel “in that day”. The bible constant is that this foolish shepherd will be present during the time of the 7-year tribulation in this world. Israel is directly involved. David Guzik in his bible commentary states:
[Revelation 13:3 and 12-14] tell us the Antichrist will suffer a severe wound yet survive. This confirms that the worthless shepherd is ultimately fulfilled in the Antichrist.
Rev Dr. Jstark