Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Zechariah 11:4-17): I guess God is just saying that those shepherds who only care about themselves and neglect their flock will be dealt a harsh blow? I didn’t know why this scripture was placed here or how the broken staffs relate to the sheep, Judah and Israel. To me, it’s a confusing passage.
A. The corrupt shepherds represent corrupt leaders who abandon the flock (the general population of the people) during times of trial, as the nation will suffer many times over for the next few hundred years, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. You can make the argument that since these corrupt shepherds follow after the rejection of the Good Shepherd (which the flock hates, verse 8-9), they represent the Jewish leaders who encouraged the people to reject Jesus as the Messiah and persecute the early Church. These actions very likely led to Jerusalem’s destruction. So overall this appears to be a prophecy about rejecting the Good Shepherd (a title Jesus uses in John 10) and the downfall that comes afterwards.
Q. (12:10-14): Why would they mourn for David who died long, long ago? Why would they still be so connected to him? And, why would men and women mourn separately?
A. David, as we have read many times, is an archetype for divinely led leadership that was best personified (to that point anyway) by David himself. When Jews speak of the House of David that is what they mean: they desire a return to having a king who is selected by God and led by God. Jesus Himself will be the fulfillment of this archetype. As to why the people mourn in gender-separated groups, I don’t have a good answer.
Q. (12:2): Will we read when this “day” actually happens?
A. In one sense: part of what is described in many of these prophecies is the sacrifice of Christ (at least that’s what Christians believe) on the cross and the victory that He will win for us. But no, the Day of the Lord’s final victory is still to come, at least as I understand it, even if the victory has already been won.
Q. (13:7-9): Today’s reading is a roller coaster. It goes from God restoring people to shepherds staffs being broken and now purifying the people to just one-third of the crowd. I am confused!
A. The staff breaking is symbolic of the people breaking the covenant with God (though God remains faithful). As with the destruction of Jerusalem, many of these same things will happen: many will die, many people will break faith, but God’s will retain a remnant of His people, and He will begin to move outwards from the wreckage of Jerusalem with the spreading of the Gospel message. To me, what is being described here is the movement of the Gospel to the forefront of God’s plan for the world, and the sacrifices that have to be made in order for that transition to take place.
Q. (14:6-7): These verses are amusing in a good sense. Here, Zechariah says to not even try to figure out how it can still be light if there are no sources of light to shine. He says only God knows. To me, this says that we shouldn’t try to figure out the seven days of Creation scientifically. If God said it happened, it happened and He’s the only one that knows how He did it.
A. Sounds fair to me.
Q. (14:1): We saw the Festival of Shelters way back. Can you tell us again what it’s about and why people would come from all around to join it — other than God just made it a requirement if their nation wants rain.
A. It’s a reminder of the time the people spent in the wilderness during the Exodus. It is one of the major Jewish holidays, but it came to be a more prominent celebration during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (i.e. our “present” time), so perhaps that is why it is selected to be the festival that gathers the nations. It was and is a great time to celebrate God’s faithfulness to His people, something all the nations of the world can join in with.