10 Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
and plants of the field to everyone.
2 The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
3 “My anger burns against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord Almighty will care
for his flock, the people of Judah,
and make them like a proud horse in battle.
4 From Judah will come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler.
5 Together they will be like warriors in battle
trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets.
They will fight because the Lord is with them,
and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame.
6 “I will strengthen Judah
and save the tribes of Joseph.
I will restore them
because I have compassion on them.
They will be as though
I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God
and I will answer them.
7 The Ephraimites will become like warriors,
and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
Their children will see it and be joyful;
their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.
8 I will signal for them
and gather them in.
Surely I will redeem them;
they will be as numerous as before.
9 Though I scatter them among the peoples,
yet in distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive,
and they will return.
10 I will bring them back from Egypt
and gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
and there will not be room enough for them.
11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
the surging sea will be subdued
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
Assyria’s pride will be brought down
and Egypt’s scepter will pass away.
12 I will strengthen them in the Lord
and in his name they will live securely,”
declares the Lord.
(Zechariah 10:1-12 NIV)
To summarize chapter 9, we saw the Lord promising to intervene on behalf of His people, conquering its foes, bringing peace to the region, defending them from their enemies, and causing them to flourish again. From our vantage point in history, we see that the Lord made this promise in the short term (in their lifetime), in the mid-term (in the life of Jesus), and in the long term (for eternity).
As we begin chapter 10, the Lord reminds His people to be dependent on Him for rain that causes their crops to grow and provides them food (v. 1).
The Lord also speaks against the remaining false religious practices of the Jewish people. Gone are the Baal worship and Ashteroth poles and other cultic practices that caused their exile and God’s judgment against them. But some smaller forms of false worship were still in existence. This included idols (teraphim – household gods – objects used as good luck charms), diviners (fortune tellers), and dreamers (those who supposedly had the ability to interpret dreams, but were making up stories for profit).
The Lord also condemned “shepherds” – any false religious person who led God’s people away from God. In the Hebrew text, God uses the word “he-goats” or male goats in place of our English word “leaders” to insult these leaders, showing that they are not sheep at all, but goats intent on leading God’s people away from Him.
In verse 3b, we see the Lord among His people, promising to guide and deliver them – in direct contrast to the false religious leaders and practices mentioned above.
The Lord then uses word pictures to illustrate His work among His people:
- war horse – God will transform His people from defenseless victims (sheep) to victorious warriors (war horses)
- cornerstone – from rejected and discarded building materials to key components in a structure (see Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42, and 1 Peter 2:6-8, all pictures of Jesus)
- tent peg – grounded and secure in the Lord; unmoveable
- battle bow – victorious
- every ruler – God will raise up current and future rulers from Judah
- warriors – mighty men, victorious in battle
All this is because God is with them, not because of their own power or might (v. 5).
In verses 6 – 7, the Lord promises to strengthen both the southern kingdom (Judah) as well as the northern kingdom (tribes of Joseph) and bring them back to the Promised Land.
In verses 8 – 10, the Lord will call His people home from the far corners of the earth that He has scattered them – from Egypt, from Assyria (including Babylon), from Gilead, and from Lebanon.
In verse 11, the Lord promises to go ahead of His people and remove the barriers to their return. This included physical barriers like seas and rivers as well as enemies like Assyria and Egypt.
In verse 12, God ends this section just as He started it in verse 6 – by promising to strengthen His people in Himself so they will walk in His name.
The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian believers to do the same thing – to look to the Lord for their strength:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
(Ephesians 6:10 NIV)
And how did Paul recommend that His people be strong in the Lord? By preparing for battle with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-20).
May we realize that the spiritual fight is on – every day.
May we prepare well for the battle ahead and depend on the Lord, not our own power.