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Lowell Brueckner

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The Stricken Shepherd


God is pleased with His plan of salvation, because of the victory that only this plan could obtain to justify many and bring them to a perfect salvation… sure, great and strong. We must be careful not to subtract any glory from this salvation by emphasizing too much the part that pertains to man. It may become an ineffective “salvation” (here today, gone tomorrow), depending on man’s faithfulness. In this prophecy, we learn an essential doctrine: Salvation is of God.   
An expository study, verse by verse of Zechariah

The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” Isaiah 53:10 

Chapter 13

Who caused Christ’s death?

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate… Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered…!” (v.7) We don’t have to have any doubts about Whom this prophecy refers, because Jesus quoted it: “Jesus said to them, You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered” (Mt.26:31). Jesus knew that the prophecy of  Zechariah was to be fulfilled that night. God spoke in the last times by His Son (He.1:1 & 2), but the Son said that His doctrine was not His, but the Father’s (Jn.7:15 & 16). Therefore we have a perfect oneness between the word of Christ in the flesh and the prophetic word, ordained by the Father.

The Lord of Hosts is commanding the death of His Son… “Oh sword, awake… strike!” We need to understand that He Who caused Jesus’ death was, principally, the Father. He must know and believe this emphatically. In no way was Jesus the victim of wicked men. All was part of the plan of God, since before the foundation of the world (1 Pt.1:19-20). The central verse of the gospel is “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. He came to the world to die at the command of His Father. Peter wanted the Jews to recognize their guilt in killing their Messiah, but he also gave them to understand that there was a greater purpose behind this act: “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God…” (Acts 2:23). As in the case of Joseph and his brothers, although they were wicked and guilty of all his suffering, Joseph caused them to know that behind all of it was a greater and nobler plan. It was to save lives and further the eternal purpose of God (Gen. 45:5-8; 50:17-20,24). He is the Lord of Hosts.

He speaks with tender words of love and intimacy when He says, “My Shepherd and against the man, My Associate”. God is giving His best and that which is closest to His heart. My Shepherd is given for the salvation of sinners and, literally, He is exposing to the sword, the Man of My unity. God is demanding the death of the One, who leads the beloved flock of God, the One Who is perfectly one and equal with the Father.

The statement is shocking, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief… and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand”. (Is.53:10). The Lord is not pleased because of the suffering itself, but 1) because of the perfect excellence of His plan. The Lord is pleased with all His works. (Do they please us? See Ro.11:33-36) 2) because of the beauty in the Son’s attitude, submitting Himself to the plan (Jn.10:17 & 18). 3) because of the act of propitiation, which was not done for us, but for God. By it, justice against sin was executed and the wrath of God was appeased. 4) because it would bring God glory, demonstrating openly His righteousness and mercy, a glorious cause of pleasure (Ps.85:10; 115:1). 5) because of the victory that only this plan could obtain to justify many and bring them to a perfect salvation… sure, great and strong. We must be careful not to subtract any glory from this salvation (Heb.2:3).

The scattering of the sheep

“That the sheep may be scattered” (v.7). The night in which Christ was arrested, the disciples were dispersed and hid themselves. The prophecy continues: “I will turn My hand against the little ones.” These words were not only for the disciples. We see again that Zechariah’s prophecy finds its full completion reserved for a distant future. Christ opened the fountain at Calvary “for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (v.1), but the Jews will not profit from it until much later. The Lord first must work against the idols, the false prophets and the unclean spirit (v.2). The horrible curse that the Jews proclaimed against themselves before Pilate, “His blood shall be on us and on our children” (Mt.27:25), has still not been removed, in spite of what they have suffered through the ages.

Jesus said, “I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah …” (Mt.23:34,35). Thirty-seven years later, the Romans conducted a bloody massacre, crucifying thousands of Jews and persecuting them to the point that they had to completely abandon their native land. The persecution has continued down through the ages and, in relatively modern times, it was carried out in concentration camps in Europe. The prophet informs us that the worst is yet to come: “Two parts in it will be cut off and perish” (v.8). When David defeated Moab he “measured them with the line, making them lie down on the ground; and he measured two lines to put to death and one full line to keep alive” (2 S.8:2). In this way, the antichrist will repeat judgment against the Jews.

This persecution will be necessary in order to purify the land, because of what is going to follow… that is, the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the times of the Old Testament, kings and prophets arose to fight against idolatry and the false prophets who promoted it. There always were and are false prophets who pretend to speak in the name of the Lord. In the last days, the Lord of Hosts will declare war against the idols and idolatry, which will consist in the adoration of the antichrist. For once and forever, He will cut off the false prophets who led people into idolatry (v.2). At the head is the false prophet, named in Revelation 13:11-17, who He will deal with at Armageddon.  

In Revelation 16:13, it speaks of three spirits that come from the mouth of the dragon (the devil), the beast (the antichrist) and the false prophet; they are miracle-working demons. In those days, there will be great manifestations of evil spirits. The entire reign of antichrist will be diabolical. The deception will be supernatural, because the beast and the false prophet will be totally demon-possessed. The evil spirits will give their energy to these characters, in order to totally control the world.

The purification of Israel

In the time of purification, God will publicly expose the false prophets through a work, which He will accomplish in the heart of the people in Israel. The greatest commandment has always been, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind| (Mt.27:37; Dt.13:3). A few verses later in Deuteronomy (v.6-9), God demands from parents: “If your… son or daughter… entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’… you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him…” Referring to this punishment, Moses said, “So you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear” (Dt.21:21).

Jesus said that “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me” (Mt.10:37). He taught us to pray, before anything else, “Our Father… hallowed be Your name.” More than the Jews in Moses’ day, Christian parents must honor God above their own children, if the case is that they do not sanctify His name and persist in their sin. They must place themselves firmly on the side of God, even if it means the condemnation of their sons and daughters. Nothing less will do.

In the day of which Zechariah spoke, the parents will uncover the falseness of a son who prophesies (v.3). Hypocrisy will lose its enchantment and the false ones will not put on the clothing of a prophet. Imagine the clergy without their robes, because in those days, to be in such a profession, will be a shame (v.4). They will deny their profession and will prefer to be known as farmers (v.5).

However, “a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” (Ro.11:5) will survive in Israel, a third part who will be the flock of the Lord. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested” (v.9). Jew or Gentile, the Lord’s sheep must be refined and proven. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), but it is all necessary and for our good (Jam.1:4). In the end, Israel will partake of the fountain of blood, shed for the Jew first. This third part, refined and proven, will be a joy in the heart of the Lord. It will be a people, cleansed of their impurity and all adulterous trusts, with a heart only for God. There will be an intimacy with Him and a certainty in their prayers. In the middle of their tribulation, they will call upon the name of Jesus of Nazareth and God will hear and confess, “They are my people”, while the people answer, “The Lord is my God.”  


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