Zechariah’s Amazing Prophecy
Zechariah 10 and 11 explained
in May 2001, we gathered together for fellowship and, on that day I was led
to read some things from the book Zechariah. This book contains some of the
most obscure prophecies, mostly relating to the end times.
Zechariahs’ Amazing Prophecy
10, he begins by saying:
Ask the Lord for rain in the time
of the latter rain (Zech 10:1).
‘latter’ in relation to the agrarian cycle refers to autumn and spring
respectively. The former (first) rain was expected in Israel after the
harvest had been gathered and the latter rain would come in the spring.
So, here we
were gathering for worship in the spring, in the time depicted in the
prophecy, and God tells us to ask Him for rain – for His outpouring from
Ministries’ Newsletter 13 (N13, page 6) I explained how God will make a
particular prophecy come alive to you in your circumstances – if He is
fulfilling it in your situation, He will show you how it fits. In that
instance it was Habakkuk’s prophecy of being revived in the midst of the
years (Habakkuk 3:2).
Now, God was
about to enliven another prophecy to us, this time using Zechariah 10 and
speaks of the all-pervasive presence of false religion, of idolatry, of
lies, and of false prophets telling false dreams. The charismatic church is
full of them! These dear people, who have trusted God for guidance through
the avenues of spiritual gifts, dreams and visions (and God certainly gives
these!) have been duped by many false prophets, and false doctrines.
God’s anger is
kindled against these ‘shepherds’ (Zech 10:3). Historically, leaders have
been the bane of national fortune. The prophecy relates directly to the
leaders of Judah who did little to prevent the nation lapsing into idolatry.
The prophecy has been recorded for the sake of the end-time Church, whose
leaders have caused it to err also. The Church must not be dull of hearing
or blind to these prophecies. They are powerful warnings about apostasy,
repeated in the NT (see 2 Thes 2:3,10-12). A huge falling away is
looming on the horizon!
predicts the time of national restoration, when the split nation will be
This will occur during Jesus’ 1000-year rule on earth. Zechariah 10:6 uses
the term ‘Joseph’ to embody the 10 tribes of Israel (those which did not
stay with Judah during the secession). And ‘Ephraim’, the leading tribe,
will be restored to greatness again (Zech 10:7).
I will bring them back... For I am
the Lord their God and I will hear them (Zech 10:6). I will whistle for them
and gather them, for I will redeem them and they shall increase... (10:8).
This has not
happened yet. It is Millennial.
I will sow them among the peoples,
and they shall remember Me in far countries; they shall live together with
their children, and they shall return (Zech 10:9). ... So I will strengthen
them in the Lord... (Zech 10:12).
This is a
prophecy with a futuristic fulfilment, but it is not far away from us now.
heading in the NKJV correctly reads “Restoration of Judah and Israel”.
Through it, however, God was also speaking to us about restoration that is
not far away from us (in this ministry) now. This restoration of our
personal fortunes is not for our enjoyment or ‘glory’. It’s to do a job. A
prophetic witness is to go to this land before it goes into captivity. (See
under The Prophetic Witness for Britain, in Newsletter 14.)
restoration of truth to the Church, so that the movements of Word and Spirit
can come together, is part of God’s agenda for this ministry. As we came
together to fellowship on that momentous Sabbath, God was about to unlock
the meaning of Zechariah’s prophecy to us as we read it. It was about this
Zechariah 11:1-11 Explained
verses 1-3 “concern the devastation of [Judah] coming in AD 70 as a result
of [Judah’s] rejection of the Messiah. Josephus relates that about 1½
million Jews perished during the Roman siege and conquest.” (NKJV
Believer’s Study Bible footnote.)
While this is
certainly one fulfilment of these verses, there is yet another more
devastating fall to occur. It will be fulfilled in modern Israel’s
prosperous progenitors. “How do you know that?” you might wonder. “Zechariah
11:1 is about Lebanon!”
is mentioned in connection with her magnificent cedars, as are the oaks of
Bashan. These trees were the most majestic and huge. They were the tallest
and the strongest. They depict Israel’s modern nations of (mainly) America
as an aside, you may care to know that the cedars of Lebanon mentioned there
are not the trees today known by that name. Cedrus libani (Cedar of
Lebanon), despite its majestic form is not the tree described in Zechariah
11:1-2. The tree that boasts the greatest glory, and which was the Cedar of
Lebanon mentioned in the Bible is the Californian Redwood, or Sequoia
sempervirens, which is the tallest living thing in the world, depicting
America’s position as the greatest nation in the world.
that the tallest specimens of the Sequoia are to be found in California,
some reaching more than 112 metres (367) feet high, and having a massive
girth of up to 13 metres! This tree is so big that one large bole (trunk)
has been cut out to allow a road to pass through it! Cars can drive
through this living tree, standing majestically astride the road!
These were the
biblical cedars of Lebanon. The oaks of Bashan were equally stately,
although not so massive. Bashan was a rich, fertile area, which also raised
prime cattle. The use of these terms in Zechariah 11 depicts the most
prosperous and proud modern nations, which again have Israelite origin (for
whom the Bible was originally written).
So, when you
read Zechariah’s lament:
...the mighty trees are ruined...
there is the sound of wailing shepherds! For their glory is in ruins. There
is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of the Jordan is in ruins (Zech
typology in our day befits America. And it has great relevance to the
Church, because America has fuelled the greatest part of gospel outreach
throughout the world. The shepherds of Zechariah 11:3 are not just the
secular leaders, but the religious leaders too. They are the objects of this
terrible judgement of God.
It is a
prophecy foretelling the total devastation of the Church. Its physical
destruction follows the apostasy that its leaders encourage:
Feed the flock for slaughter, whose
owners [church leaders] slaughter
them and feel no guilt; those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I
am rich’; their shepherds do not pity them (Zech 11:4-5).
remind you of the condemnation against Laodicea? (Rev 3:17.) It ought to!
The denunciation goes on:
I will no longer pity the
inhabitants of the land [God’s grace is
removed], says the Lord. But indeed I will give everyone into his
neighbour’s hand [captivity at the hands of
foreign countries] and into the hand of his king. They shall attack
the land and I will not deliver them from their hand (Zech 11:6).
in the Church prior to this slaughter and captivity are then portrayed:
So I fed the flock for slaughter,
in particular the poor of the flock (Zech 11:7a).
The Two Staffs
Zechariah was directed to do this:
I took for myself two staffs, the
one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bonds; and I fed the flock (Zech
As I said
previously, this is one of the most obscure prophecies in the Bible, and has
not been understood until our day. Here is the meaning as God showed us in
represent God’s guidance among His people. A staff was used by
shepherds to keep sheep from straying. Jesus, the Shepherd of His sheep, is
at work amidst the Church, depicted in Revelation by Jesus walking among the
lampstands or candlesticks (Rev 1:13; 2:1). He is continually guiding those
who are receptive to Him.
In the history
of Israel, after the nation split into two, the northern kingdom of Israel
went into captivity, because they rejected God whole- sale. This is also one
meaning of the staff ‘Bonds’. The southern kingdom of Judah (the Jews)
retained a certain willingness to obey God, so God was with them (depicted
as ‘Beauty’). (This part is not new revelation.)
But the two
staffs portray something more. I have explained in The Ten Virgins
that there is basically a divide through the Church which separates it into
two distinct spiritual ‘segments’. There is the charismatic or
Spirit-led sector of the Church, and at the opposite end of the spiritual
spectrum are those who understand and observe the relevance of the laws of
the OT which Jesus did not rescind at His first coming. For convenience’
sake I usually refer to this segment of the Church as the Sabbatarian
So, we have
the two staffs – two distinctive areas of God’s guidance through His Spirit
in the body of Christ:
‘charismatic’ Sunday-observing part.
2) The Sabbatarian sector.
fits with the title Beauty, or Grace (as the margin renders
this word in Zech 11:7), and the latter is depicted by Bonds (or
Unity); the more legalistic emphasis being the outcome in this sector of
the Church. If the Church wants total unity (which most don’t want!), it
must accept and abide by all true doctrine, for true doctrine unites. False
doctrine divides. Keeping the Sabbaths, holy days and other ancillary laws
of God are part of that true doctrine.
11:7, God is describing in couched symbolism how He has been leading and
feeding His flock in two segments. Now, it is time for these two movements
of Spirit and Word to come together as Smith Wigglesworth prophesied, and as
we described in Newsletter 13 (p 7).
The Three Shepherds
I dismissed the three shepherds in
one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me (Zech
in the NKJV Believer’s Study Bible says: “Few verses in the Bible are
more difficult to interpret than this one. Even conservative scholars differ
widely. One ancient theory is that the ‘shepherds’ represent the prophets,
the priests and the kings (civil rulers) of Israel. The Messiah’s impatience
with them would be of the same sort with which He spoke against the scribes,
Pharisees, and hypocrites (Matt 23). They rejected His grace (John 1:11).”
That is a very plausible explanation, but there is more.
three is a biblical symbol for finality. The dismissing of three shepherds
could represent the final rejection of the Church in our age, when
those who fail to accept the truths which God wants them to accept, invoke
God’s wrath on them. It parallels the part in the parable of the Ten Virgins
where the foolish virgins are shut outside the door.
It is their final rejection by God, because they didn’t accept what He was
While people are saying ‘Peace and
safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on pregnant
woman (1 Thes 5:3).
Sabbatarians fail to accept the baptism in the Spirit with spiritual gifts,
and the Sunday-keeping ‘charismatics’ fail to accept God’s Sabbaths, they
will all be part of this rejection. God loathes disobedience. He rejects
believers for deliberate disobedience. They are not true believers; they are
hypocrites. When you correct the rebellious, they hate you for it. Zechariah
11:8 depicts this response.
11:9-11 goes on to warn of the departure of God’s Spirit from the
rebellious, and of the awful consequences. Charismatic believers who fail to
accept the Sabbaths when this truth is made clear to them (and God will do
that through us by performing miracles of raising the dead to confirm that
we genuinely speak for Him, that we are not false prophets) will lose the
Holy Spirit. Demon spirits will take God’s place in their lives, and
everything will fall into disarray and confusion.
withdraw from them, terminating His covenant of grace (11:10) which He
offers to all races, not just Israel (also confirming that this is the new
covenant being described here).
It was revoked on that day (Zech
on that day is primarily a reference to the time of the second coming of
Christ, which indicates that the prophecy has a fulfilment in our time.
The Black Peoples Listen
Thus the poor of the flock, who
were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord (Zech 11:11).
There is an
alternative to the rendering ‘poor’ in verses 7 and 11. It is the
Canaanites. I have heard that the Canaanites could have been
black-skinned. After they lost their favoured land to Israel, they ended up
being pushed out into less fertile areas.
It may be that
this part of the prophecy refers to the black peoples of Africa in our time.
If so, it is significant, because these people have welcomed the gospel far
more readily than the white races. The vision of a blood-washed Africa,
which has been the spur to Reinhard Bonnke in his preaching exploits in that
continent, is also reflected in these words:
Thus the poor of the flock
[the Canaanites], who were watching
me, knew that it was the word of the Lord (Zech 11:11).
Solomon contains a reference to a dark skinned woman whom the King loves
(Song 1:5-6). She seeks Him out (Song 1:7). These underprivileged people
tend to recognise or accept the Word of the Lord more readily than
Jesus Is Rejected
11:12-13 contains the well-known prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus’
rejection by the Jews and His betrayal by Judas.
significant, and which cannot be refuted by sceptics, is that the amount for
which Jesus was betrayed – 30 pieces of silver – was precisely
fulfilled (Matt 27:3). Even the allusion to a potter finds significant
fulfilment in what occurred several hundred years after Zechariah wrote down
the prophecy (Matt 27:3-10).
The Emergence of The Antichrist
words of judgement are no idle threat. They will be fulfilled. The western
Church, which is so complacent about judgement, is about to find itself
engulfed in the most terrible times in all of history, shut outside the
Not only will
the charismatic sector of the Church (‘Beauty’) suffer the withdrawal of
God’s grace for its rejection of this end-time witness, but so will the
Sabbatarian sector, depicted by the metaphor of the staff named Bonds
major fulfilment of this verse is in the schism that occurred between Israel
and Judah in the reign of King Rehoboam, it also depicts the factionalism
that has engulfed the Sabbatarian churches, especially in the last decade.
we have presented truths about spiritual gifts
to numbers of these people, only to have them rejected without meaningful
consideration. Pride and presumption have closed the door on humility and
hunger for truth. The result has been division and further disunity because
of the departure of the Spirit. There has been a real ‘breaking of the
brotherhood’ amongst these people in recent years.
listened to the witness we brought them with further truth, they could have
been revived. Instead, their rejection of Jesus’ witness through us, brought
their own rejection by Him.
context, God predicted the arising of a foolish shepherd (Zech 11:15-17),
meaning one who is not serving God nor His people. “These verses describe
the consequences of Israel’s rejecting their messianic Shepherd – they will
have a foolish (morally corrupt) and worthless one. This would be partially
fulfilled by all the ungodly rulers the Jews would have, but the singular
‘shepherd’ suggests the primary referent is the Antichrist (John 5:43; 2
Thes 2:3,4; Rev 13:1-10).” (NKJV Believer’s Study Bible.)
Antichrist or Beast is one fulfilment of the foolish shepherd prophecy. But
it is also fulfilled by church leaders who are guided by Satan and who exert
their dominance over God’s people in organised church structures,
particularly in the cults.
example, the Worldwide Church of God inherited a foolish shepherd (leader)
in Joseph Tkach between 1986 and 1995 (and continues to suffer similar
spiritual demise under its present leadership). Tkach’s leadership fuelled
an apostasy unparalleled in any church’s history. His lead followed on the
heels of the church’s founder, Herbert W Armstrong, who fulfilled one part
of the symbolism of Zechariah 11:17 literally. He became blind in his right
iron-fisted rule over the church’s doctrinal teachings. He prided himself on
his strong-arm rule over God’s people under his control, as if it were a
divine fulfilment of the meaning of his name (Arm-strong)! He also ascribed
to himself the position of God in the Church (2 Thes 2:4). Nobody was
allowed to contest his decisions, and what he said was law in the WCG!
that all that Armstrong established was rapidly demolished by the next WCG
leaders, fulfilling the words of Zechariah: “a sword shall be against his
arm... his arm shall completely wither” (Zech 11:17).
The same fate
will engulf all church leaders who fail to heed the words of this prophet!
(Many will reject his witness, and so be rejected by God.) But you don’t
have to be rejected, if you will accept the whole counsel of God (Acts
20:27; Luke 7:30).
Malcolm B Heap