Zechariah 9

The Whole World Has Its Eyes on God

War Bulletin:

God’s Message challenges the country of Hadrach.
    It will settle on Damascus.
The whole world has its eyes on God.
    Israel isn’t the only one.
That includes Hamath at the border,
    and Tyre and Sidon, clever as they think they are.
Tyre has put together quite a kingdom for herself;
    she has stacked up silver like cordwood,
    piled gold high as haystacks.
But God will certainly bankrupt her;
    he will dump all that wealth into the ocean
    and burn up what’s left in a big fire.
Ashkelon will see it and panic,
    Gaza will wring its hands,
    Ekron will face a dead end.
Gaza’s king will die.
    Ashkelon will be emptied out,
    And a villain will take over in Ashdod.

“I’ll take proud Philistia down a peg:
    I’ll make him spit out his bloody booty
    and abandon his vile ways.”
What’s left will be all God’s—a core of survivors,
    a family brought together in Judah—
But enemies like Ekron will go the way of the Jebusites,
    into the dustbin of history.
“I will set up camp in my home country
    and defend it against invaders.
Nobody is going to hurt my people ever again.
    I’m keeping my eye on them.

A Humble King Riding a Donkey

“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
    a good king who makes all things right,
    a humble king riding a donkey,
    a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
    no more war horses in Jerusalem,
    no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
    a peaceful rule worldwide,
    from the four winds to the seven seas.

“And you, because of my blood covenant with you,
    I’ll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells.
Come home, hope-filled prisoners!
    This very day I’m declaring a double bonus—
    everything you lost returned twice-over!
Judah is now my weapon, the bow I’ll pull,
    setting Ephraim as an arrow to the string.
I’ll wake up your sons, O Zion,
    to counter your sons, O Greece.
From now on
    people are my swords.”

Then God will come into view,
    his arrows flashing like lightning!
Master God will blast his trumpet
    and set out in a whirlwind.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them—
    all-out war,
The war to end all wars,
    no holds barred.
Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them.
    They’ll become like sheep, gentle and soft,
Or like gemstones in a crown,
    catching all the colors of the sun.
Then how they’ll shine! shimmer! glow!
    the young men robust, the young women lovely!

Read More of Zechariah 9

Zechariah 10

God’s Work of Rebuilding

Pray to God for rain—it’s time for the spring rain—
    to God, the rainmaker,
Spring thunderstorm maker,
    maker of grain and barley.

“Store-bought gods babble gibberish.
    Religious experts spout rubbish.
They pontificate hot air.
    Their prescriptions are nothing but smoke.
And so the people wander like lost sheep,
    poor lost sheep without a shepherd.
I’m furious with the so-called shepherds.
    They’re worse than billy goats, and I’ll treat them like goats.”

God-of-the-Angel-Armies will step in
    and take care of his flock, the people of Judah.
He’ll revive their spirits,
    make them proud to be on God’s side.
God will use them in his work of rebuilding,
    use them as foundations and pillars,
Use them as tools and instruments,
    use them to oversee his work.
They’ll be a workforce to be proud of, working as one,
    their heads held high, striding through swamps and mud,
Courageous and vigorous because God is with them,
    undeterred by the world’s thugs.

“I’ll put muscle in the people of Judah;
    I’ll save the people of Joseph.
I know their pain and will make them good as new.
    They’ll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened.
And why? Because I am their very own God,
    I’ll do what needs to be done for them.
The people of Ephraim will be famous,
    their lives brimming with joy.
Their children will get in on it, too—
    oh, let them feel blessed by God!
I’ll whistle and they’ll all come running.
    I’ve set them free—oh, how they’ll flourish!
Even though I scattered them to the far corners of earth,
    they’ll remember me in the faraway places.
They’ll keep the story alive in their children,
    and they will come back.
I’ll bring them back from the Egyptian west
    and round them up from the Assyrian east.
I’ll bring them back to sweet Gilead,
    back to leafy Lebanon.
Every square foot of land
    will be marked by homecoming.
They’ll sail through troubled seas, brush aside brash ocean waves.
    Roaring rivers will turn to a trickle.
Gaudy Assyria will be stripped bare,
    bully Egypt exposed as a fraud.
But my people—oh, I’ll make them strong, God-strong!
    and they’ll live my way.” God says so!

Read More of Zechariah 10

Zechariah 11

1-4 Open your borders to the immigrants, proud Lebanon!
    Your sentinel trees will burn.
Weep, great pine trees! Mourn, you sister cedars!
    Your towering trees are cordwood.
Weep Bashan oak trees!
    Your thick forest is now a field of stumps.
Do you hear the wailing of shepherds?
    They’ve lost everything they once owned.
Do you hear the outrage of the lions?
    The mighty jungle of the Jordan is wasted.
Make room for the returning exiles!

Breaking the Beautiful Covenant

God commanded me, “Shepherd the sheep that are soon to be slaughtered. The people who buy them will butcher them for quick and easy money. What’s worse, they’ll get away with it. The people who sell them will say, ‘Lucky me! God’s on my side; I’ve got it made!’ They have shepherds who couldn’t care less about them.”

God’s Decree: “I’m washing my hands of the people of this land. From now on they’re all on their own. It’s dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, and the devil take the hindmost. Don’t look for help from me.”

So I took over from the crass, money-grubbing owners, and shepherded the sheep marked for slaughter. I got myself two shepherd staffs. I named one Lovely and the other Harmony. Then I went to work shepherding the sheep. Within a month I got rid of the corrupt shepherds. I got tired of putting up with them—and they couldn’t stand me.

And then I got tired of the sheep and said, “I’ve had it with you—no more shepherding from me. If you die, you die; if you’re attacked, you’re attacked. Whoever survives can eat what’s left.”

Then I took the staff named Lovely and broke it across my knee, breaking the beautiful covenant I had made with all the peoples. In one stroke, both staff and covenant were broken. The money-hungry owners saw me do it and knew God was behind it.

Then I addressed them: “Pay me what you think I’m worth.” They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.

God told me, “Throw it in the poor box.” This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work! So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God’s Temple.

Then I broke the other staff, Harmony, across my knee, breaking the concord between Judah and Israel.

God then said, “Dress up like a stupid shepherd. I’m going to install just such a shepherd in this land—a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He’ll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.

“Doom to you, useless shepherd,
    walking off and leaving the sheep!
A curse on your arm!
    A curse on your right eye!
Your arm will hang limp and useless.
    Your right eye will go stone blind.”

Read More of Zechariah 11