11 Open your doors, Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!
2 Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen;
the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
the dense forest has been cut down!
3 Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!
(Zechariah 11:1-3 NIV)
Looking back to chapter 10, we see the Lord reminding His people of their total dependence on Him, and not on good luck charms, fortune tellers, or any others who claim to know or see the future. God will gather His people that are scattered to the far reaches of the earth; He will bless them and protect them. God will also declare war on the nations that oppressed His people while they were in exile. As we noted last time, this promise was for the short term (in their lifetime), in the mid-term (in the life of Jesus), and in the long term (for eternity).
As we open chapter 11, the mood changes. Gone are the happy moments of victory; now God describes the results of His declaration of war on those that oppress God’s people.
These three verses use familiar landmarks and features in and around the trans-Jordan area as bold imagery and metaphors for what will happen.
In Zechariah’s current timeframe, the references to Lebanon are about the cedar trees, the largest trees known to that region. The size of the trees reflected their pride and the amount of shade (area) they covered (the size of the nation). One could easily make the correlation with the great Assyrian nation.
The reference to the cypress and oak trees reflects the smaller size of those trees with respect to the cedars of Lebanon. One could correlate those smaller trees with smaller nations like Egypt, etc. The point here is that if the largest trees (nations) are being brought down, the smaller trees (nations) should be fearful and understand they are not immune from the Lord’s judgment as well.
The shepherds’ wails are the cries of the kings that have lost their flock (their glory, the people they rule over).
The lions’ roars are the deposed kings that are forced out of their kingdoms when their home is ruined, just as the lions in the trans-Jordan area are forced out of their lairs among the thickets along the Jordan River when the river overflows its banks.
This prophecy also points forward (from the vantage point of Zechariah) to the time of Jesus, when the Temple would be destroyed and the gates of Jerusalem burned again because of the rejection of Messiah (Jesus). The religious leaders will be deposed, without a flock (people to rule over), and without a home (the Temple). All this happens because of their pride and arrogance when they reject Jesus as Messiah.
May we walk with the Lord in humility and in faith (Micah 6:8).