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By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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One Sabbath 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
In Zechariah 10, he begins by saying:
Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain (Zech 10:1).
'Former' or '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 heaven.
In Midnight 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 11.
Zechariah 10:2 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!
Zechariah 10:6 predicts the time of national restoration, when the split nation will be reunited. 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.
The chapter 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.)
Also, the 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 very restoration.
Zechariah 11:1-11 Explained
Zechariah 11 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!"
Yes, 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 and Britain.
Interestingly, 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.
How fitting 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 11:2-3),
...the 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).
Does this 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). 
The activity 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
Then, 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 11:7b).
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 May 2001.
The staffs 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 sector.
So, we have the two staffs – two distinctive areas of God's guidance through His Spirit in the body of Christ:
The former 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.
In Zechariah 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 11:8).
The footnote 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.
The number 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 offering.
While people are saying 'Peace and safety', destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on pregnant woman (1 Thes 5:3).
When the 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.
Zechariah 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.
God will 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 11:11, NIV).
The phrase 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).
Song of 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 Israelites.
Jesus Is Rejected
Zechariah 11:12-13 contains the well-known prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus' rejection by the Jews and His betrayal by Judas.
What is 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
Zechariah's 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 Door.
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 (Zech 11:14).
While the 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.
For example, 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.
Had they 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.
In this 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.)
The end-time 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.
In one 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 eye.
He exerted 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!
How ironic 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
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