Christ as the foundation stone is the bedrock of Israel’s Messianic hopes. The cornerstone was also the keystone which brought together two walls; a possible picture of the two kingdoms being reunited in one nation through Christ. It was from this stone that the rest of the building had stability and steadfastness.1
Isaiah refers to Christ in a similar vein, Isa. 22. 23, tallying with the sentiment of Zechariah chapter 6 verse 13, ‘he shall bear the glory’.
In chapter 9 verse 10 the battlebow has been cut off from Ephraim and Jerusalem. Christ becomes His people’s defence, cp. Ps. 45. 5. He returns as the Warrior-king for the deliverance and defence of His earthly people. There is no further need for the huge expenditure on the arms race of the past. All military hardware has been decommissioned. Peace reigns. Christ is His people’s safety and security.
Today, the peace of God garrisons our hearts. Our conflict is spiritual and the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God, 2 Cor. 10. 4
He is the supreme ruler in the millennium. Others appointed by Him will be rulers, princes, and judges throughout the Gentile lands.2 The Gentile nations will pay tribute to Israel and their Messiah, Isa. 60. 16, 17. Gentile wealth will be bestowed upon Israel and her Messiah. He will receive the tribute of worship and praise as the nations come to Jerusalem to worship at the Feast of Tabernacles. What tribute of praise and worship do we offer our Lord?
In this passage we have two kinds of shepherd contrasted. Christ, the faithful Shepherd, vv. 4-14, and Antichrist, the foolish shepherd, vv. 15-17. Matthew quotes from this passage – one of forty in the New Testament. It is a composite quotation from Zechariah and Jeremiah. Matthew gives attribution to Jeremiah, because he was a major prophet.3
Our Lord is the good shepherd. He, too, was rejected and despised by the nation. They only valued Him, as represented by Judas, at thirty pieces of silver. This was the price paid for a slave that had been gored by an ox, Exod. 21. 22! The sarcasm is highlighted by the expression, ‘a goodly price that I was prised at of them’, 11. 13. The thirty pieces of silver were cast into the house of the Lord, the temple.4
The shepherd character Christ relates to His people today. John portrays Him as the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Hebrews declares Him to be ‘that great shepherd of the sheep’ in resurrection. Peter speaks of Him as the chief shepherd in relation to assembly overseers or shepherds, linking this aspect of His shepherd character to the time of His second advent.
In verses 1-9 Jehovah’s eyes are opened; cp. v. 4. Verses 10-14 indicate that Judah’s eyes are opened, cp. v. 10. The conversion and conviction of the house of David is followed by their cleansing, 13. 1. What a transformation when the Lord appears out of heaven for the house of Judah and Jerusalem, Rev. 1. 7. After centuries of rejection, Israel will acknowledge at last their dreadful sin of rejecting their Messiah and handing Him over to the Romans to crucify Him. Joel’s prophecy regarding the outpouring of the Spirit will be finally and fully discharged. Israel’s Day of Atonement, the only fast amidst the feasts,5 will be accompanied with repentance by the people nationally and individually. The genuineness of their repentance is recognized in their mourning and bitterness of soul.6
What a confession will be theirs as Isaiah chapter 53 becomes their acknowledgement of guilt and complicity in the sufferings and death of their Messiah! What a cleansing will be theirs when the fountain for sin and uncleanness opened at Calvary becomes applicable to their moral condition.7
What a beautiful picture of how the Lord works in salvation! The Holy Spirit promotes supplication. Their eyes ‘look upon’ the pierced One, or, rather, as with the serpent on the pole, they ‘look to’ in faith and trust. Genuine soul-searching leads to repentance from the top down, king, prophet, and ‘all the families that remain’. Then, their cleansing is complete at the fountain.
Would God that the need for ‘repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’, Acts 20. 21, were more faithfully preached from the pulpits of the land!
The sword speaks of judicial punishment.8 In the passage before us, the sword is not literal but represents the infliction of judgement. The judgement is not ‘upon him that doeth evil’ in this case, but upon the One, ‘who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’, 1 Pet. 2. 24.
This metaphorical sword is wielded against ‘my shepherd’. The contrast in this chapter is with the false prophets of Israel and the One, true, genuine Prophet, ‘my shepherd’. Our Lord quotes this verse partially, Matt. 26. 31, after the experience of Gethsemane’s garden. It was prophetic of what was about to befall Him.
The shepherd title is carried forward from chapter 11 and is used of kings and the pastoral care they should display towards their subjects, the flock. Ezekiel chapter 34 demonstrates the abject failure of the shepherds of Israel, and the ideal Shepherd, Christ. The link between shepherd and sovereign perhaps explains the quotation being in Matthew’s Gospel, the gospel of the King.
Israel, and we sinners, deserved the full force of the smiting sword but remarkably, ‘O Christ, it fell on Thee’!
Notice that this is the fifth time ‘man’ is used of Christ in this prophecy. The particular word here is not of weak man, as in Adam, but it signifies a strong, valiant man, even a warrior. How strong our Lord was in bearing the judgement of God against sin upon the cross. Truly, a mighty man of valour.
In addition to His human nature we are reminded that the smitten One was ‘my fellow’. His deity is inherent in this title. The word ‘fellow’ bears the meaning ‘next of kin’ or ‘equal’. He ‘thought it not robbery to be equal with God’, Phil. 2. 6. The smitten One was both human and divine.
The result, ‘the sheep shall be scattered’. Israel has been scattered amongst the nations of the world. After Rome sacked and burned Jerusalem in AD 70, the nation lost its homeland, until 1948. They have had no king or country, and currently are only back in the land in unbelief. One day they will be recovered from the graveyard of the nations, and will have one Shepherd over them, Ezek. 34. 12, 23.
As the Lord fought on Israel’s side in the wilderness and in the land, so He will ‘go forth’ as the Warrior-king on His war steed, with the armies of heaven behind Him to engage the Gentile nations in battle.
The One who parted the Red Sea and the Jordan, the One who caused the veil of the temple to be rent in twain will now cause the Mount of Olives to cleave in two! The parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan gave God’s people access to the wilderness and Canaan, respectively. The tearing of the veil of the temple in two halves gave access to the presence of God. The cleaving of Olivet will give the remnant an escape route out of Jerusalem to access a place of safety in ‘my mountains’.
The Lord is Emperor. All the earth is subject to Him. Despite their aspirations, the previous world empires only held sway over the then known world. Even the man of sin does not succeed in complete world domination, and the second advent of Christ puts an end to his adventuring.
There shall be one Lord, Jehovah. Israel’s God will be universally accepted. All religions, all so-called gods will be swept away. Jehovah will be Lord and He alone will be the object of worship in the golden age, the glorious millennium.
Jehovah, of course, will be none other than our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. His mediatorial rule will be experienced on earth for 1000 years, Rev. 20. 2-6. At last, it will come true, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven’, Matt. 6. 10.
After the judgement of the living nations, when the surviving remnant of the Gentile nations will have been judged; the sheep, as opposed to the goats, are told by the King, ‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’, Matt. 25. 34. These Gentile believers will be expected to go up to Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles on an annual basis. The significance of all the other feasts and fast will have been fulfilled, but the Feast of Tabernacles will find its consummation in the glory and rejoicing of the millennial day. The purpose of their visit is to worship the King, Jesus Christ, who is also designated by a title more frequently used of the Father, the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts!
The prophecy closes with a picture of domesticity in Jerusalem and Judah. All is ‘holiness unto the Lord’. A holy nation shall dwell in the holy land, reigned over by a holy King and served by a holy priesthood (Zadokite) in a holy temple. But the unique feature is Jehovah-shammah, ‘The Lord is there’.
Christ is described as the chief cornerstone, Ps. 118. 22, 23; Matt. 21. 42; the precious cornerstone, Isa. 28. 16; 1 Pet. 2. 6; He is the bedrock of the local Assembly, 1 Cor. 3. 11, and the dispensational church, 1 Pet. 2. 5, 6.
See Isa. 32. 1; Ps. 45. 16.
See Matt. 27. 9-10; Jer. 18. 2, 3; 19. 1-13; 32. 6-15.
The temple authorities recognized it as blood money and used it to purchase the potter’s field to bury strangers in. The name of the field is Aceldama, the field of blood, a continuing memorial to the dastardly act of the temple authorities.
Lev. 23. 26-32.
Their mourning is as for a first-born son and an only son, both references to their Messiah. Such will be their grief-stricken mourning that it is likened to that accompanying the death of Josiah, v. 11, at the hand of Pharoah-necho.
Blood has to do with judicial cleansing, water with moral cleansing. Here, it is water. ‘Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you’, Ezek. 36. 25.
For example, the sword of the Angel of Jehovah hanging over Jerusalem when David purchased the threshing floor from Ornan the Jebusite, 1 Chr. 21. 15, 16, 27, 30, or the sword in the hands of divinely appointed rulers, Rom. 13. 4, ‘to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil’.