Study Notes

Zechariah 11:15-17


Last week, we discussed the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver. His opportunity to betray Christ came when he attended the "Last Supper," and slipped out to inform the chief priests, scribes, and elders about where Jesus could be arrested later that night.

During the teaching, I flippantly mentioned that Judas had to first pose for the painting by Da Vinci. Of course, this painting was created almost 1,500 years later by Leonardo Da Vinci, when the Duke Lodovico commissioned him to paint it in the dining room of his family chapel.

Da Vinci used live models for the thirty-foot-wide painting. There is an interesting story circulating which says, "The live model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first. When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality unaffected by sin. Finally, after weeks of laborious searching a young man, nineteen years of age, was selected as the model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months Da Vinci worked on the production of this leading character of the famous painting."

Seven years later, as the story goes, the only figure remaining to be painted was Judas Iscariot. "For weeks Da Vinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, who would betray his best friend."

Finally, "word came to Da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met the requirements had been found. He was in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder."

The story climaxes with the revelation that the model for Judas Iscariot was the same man, who, seven years earlier, had posed in the place of Christ.

In reality, there is no history to support this story, and in fact the painting took less than three years to complete. But it is suprisingly like the divergent roles which God called Zechariah to play during his ministry.

While DaVinci's fictional model was called to play both Jesus, the Son of God and Judas, the Son of Perdition (John 17:12), Zechariah was called to play both Christ and the antichrist, who is also called the Son of Perdition (2Thes. 2:3).

As you recall, the prophet was told to play the part of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who would be rejected by the people of Israel. Now, he is being called to play the part of another shepherd, one very different than the first.

11:15 More Equipment

Like the first shepherd's role God called Zechariah to play, the second also came with props.

When he was the Good Shepherd, Zechariah carried two staves: one named Favor, the other called Union. Now, in this second role, he is told to take the equipment of a foolish shepherd.

A Foolish Shepherd

From a Biblical perspective, to be foolish does not mean to be uneducated. It is the opposite of being wise. The Hebrew word "ev-ee-LEE" comes from a root word that means "to be perverse." Scripture often refers to evil men as foolish:

Ps. 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds...

Ps. 107:17 Fools, because of their rebellious way, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.

Prov. 14:9 Fools mock at sin...

So this shepherd, though called foolish, is no dummy. He is foolish not because he lacks education or intelligence, but rather because he lacks righteousness and fear of the Lord.

11:16 I Am Going To Raise Up

God says that He Himself is going to raise up this foolish shepherd. Some people have a real problem with this concept. "How can a righteous God," they ask, "possibly raise up a wicked leader?" But remember,

Col. 1:16 For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him.

Notice that ALL things, ALL the authorities, have been created by Him and for Him. Judas was created to serve God's purpose. Hitler was created to serve God's purposes. And this foolish shepherd, who is often referred to as the antichrist, will also serve God's purpose.

The Perishing, Scattered, And Broken

This foolish shepherd will not be like our Good Shepherd. Of Jesus, it was said,

Isa. 40:11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

In contrast to Him Who pastured the afflicted of the flock, the foolish shepherd will have no compassion.

- Christ cares for the perishing. The antichrist will cause them to perish.

- Christ seeks and saves that which is lost (Luke 19:10). The antichrist will scatter the lambs (Matt 24:15-21).

- Christ is the Great Physician for those who are sick (Luke 5:31). The antichrist will not heal, but harm (Rev. 12).

- Christ gave His life for the sheep, but the antichrist will take the life of the sheep.

This foolish shepherd will be brutal, inflicting pain, torture, and death. He will be the opposite of Jesus, Who said,

John 10:15 ...I lay down My life for the sheep.

11:17 The Worthless Shepherd

First, he was called the foolish, evil, perverse, shepherd. Now he is called the worthless shepherd. I was amused to discover that this Hebrew word "el-EEL" literally means "good-for-nothing."

Even more amusing is to realize that of the 20 times the word is used in the Bible, 17 times it is translated "idols" or "images." So literally, God often calls people's idols "good-for-nothings!" I especially like the statement He makes in Isaiah 31...

Isa. 31:7 ...every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your hands have made as a sin.

Silver good-for-nothings and gold good-for-nothings! I love the Lord's ironic use of language!

Leaves The Flock

This worthless, good-for-nothing shepherd leaves the flock. You could tie this in with Jesus saying in John 10,

John 10:12-13 "He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep."

But this has also led some to believe that the antichrist will himself be a Jew, since you can read this as saying he was originally a member of the flock, or at least among them.

Arm And Eye

We also read that a sword will be upon his arm and right eye. Most commentators spiritualize this to mean that his power (arm) and insight (eye) will be judged. But here again, I see the statement as very literal. You see, John wrote in the Revelation of the worthless shepherd, saying it looked as if he...

Rev. 13:3 ...had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast

Of the false prophet, it says:

Rev. 13:14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

Where was this wound of the sword?

Zech. 11:17 "...A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered, and his right eye will be blind."

I see this a very clearly saying that the antichrist will be assassinated. He will be attacked with a sword in his arm and his right eye, and will die. But he will be healed, he will come to life. He will raise from the dead by satanic power, which will convince the world that he is worthy to be worshiped. Although he will be resurrected, the reminders of his murder will be obvious: a withered arm and a blind right eye.

The Image And The Mark

Now, after this fatal wound is healed, an image is made of the beast, the antichrist, the worthless shepherd. The false prophet...

Rev. 13:14 ...deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

This image of the worthless shepherd will be of him as he is on that day - complete with injuries to arm and eye. The false prophet will...

Rev. 13:15-18 ...cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and {he provides} that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, {either} the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

The image of the antichrist will be worshiped, and people will receive a mark on their bodies in identification with him. But notice where the mark is: the right hand or the forehead! The identification is with his wounds!

Just as we wear a cross to identify with the sufferings that Christ endured, so the world will receive a mark to identify with the suffering of the worthless shepherd!


Behind the scenes spiritually, satan will just be once again imitating the sign of God. The Lord told His people,

Deut. 6:6-8 "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

The truth is, satan wants to be God so much that he never uses original ideas, he just steals God's ideas, counterfeiting and corrupting them! He has stolen the idea of being a lion, of having prophets, and of miracles. Now, he simply steals the idea of the mark and of a resurrected messiah!

This should cause us to keep our spiritual discernment sharp. There will often be situations, doctrines, and movements that sound on the surface like they are from God, but in reality are simply a satanic counterfeit to deceive us.

God Will Give Us Leaders Like We Are

Overall, this passage tells us that since Israel rejected their Good Shepherd, they will be given the worthless shepherd.

When we consider this in light of Ezekiel 34, a sobering truth comes to light. The Lord told Ezekiel,

Ezek. 34:2-4 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat {sheep} without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them."

Israel sowed these kinds of leaders, and they will harvest the antichrist. In other words, their leader will be just like the leadership that they were.

Before we begin to be upset with the leaders over us - be they those in the government, the workplace, or even the church - we must consider that the leaders that have been placed over us are very likely just larger versions of ourselves.

As Americans, we get governmental leaders who are like us.

As employees, we will find that the manager is often no more guilty of sin than we are ourselves.

As churchgoers, we will also have leadership who are like us. May it never be said of us as God said to Hosea,

Hosea 4:9 people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds.

Conversely, if we who are in authority - as managers or leaders - seek righteousness, justice, and mercy, then it will be that...

Isa. 24:2 ...the people will be like the priest, the servant like his master, the maid like her mistress, the buyer like the seller, the lender like the borrower, the creditor like the debtor.

The long and the short of it is that the application of "the Golden Rule" has more behind it than simply a principle. Jesus said,

Luke 6:31 "And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way."

As it turns out, this isn't just a good principle to live by. It is the way we must view the law of sowing and reaping.

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