A ROCK AND A TREE
September 26 2021
“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. The idols [teraphim] 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.
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.”
The first two verses presented here give us the contrast between the glory and benefits of seeking the One True GOD verses the oppression of harboring false gods represented here in idols.
It is the One true Creator and Sustainer who blesses us with rain and crops. These benefits are available to all people. Recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:45 when He said, “For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Notice, it’s His sun, His rain.
The One True God can do things, bring blessings, the idols can do nothing but bring curses.
The One True God speaks absolute truth whereas the idols speak deceitfully and cause diviners to lie to people and to give false hopes and comforts.
The word used here for idols is “teraphim”. This is a special type of idol – it is a household idol.
We first learn of this type of idol in Genesis 35 concerning the story of Jacob, Rachel and Laban. We made mention of this story some weeks ago of how Laban deceived Jacob in holding back his daughter Rachel until Jacob married Leah her sister.
As that story was drawing to a conclusion, and Jacob was hastening to leave Laban after 20 years of servitude, taking both Leah and Rachel and all his cattle and goats and making for home, Laban and his sons pursued them.
You see, Rachel had stolen the family’s household idols – Laban’s teraphim. Was it that she desired to hang onto a touch-of-home or was there something deeper concerning her actions?
Upon catching us with Jacob, Laban questioned Jacob.
- Why have you left so quietly and quickly?
- You didn’t even give me a chance to say goodbye to my daughters.
- And besides, you have stolen my teraphim.
Now Laban goes and searches everywhere for his idols. All the tents and belongings of all of Jacob’s entourage and finds nothing incriminating. He then turns his attention to the animals and searches all the camels. Rachel tells her father that she is not feeling well and would he mind if she didn’t follow custom by dismounting and bowing.
Laban allows her to remain astride her camel not realizing that she has hidden the idols under her saddle and is sitting upon them.
Laban apologizes to Jacob and they make a covenant by erecting a stone monument and all leave in peace.
It may be just me, but I have to think there is a connect between how Rachel hid the teraphim by sitting upon them that later she is barren. You see, idols have a spiritual curse behind them.
God does intervene and later Rachel is able to birth Joseph, Jacob’s favourite, but later dies while giving birth to Benjamin. Did her sitting astride the idols of her family cause her to fall under the curse of barrenness?
We must be alert to any enticement to entertain idol worship in our lives.
God’s word is very clear when it comes to any kind of idol worship.
For details concerning the foolishness of idolatry consider these references.1
Divination and all occultic practices are condemned by Scripture. 2
Israel had many of all of these. 3
Silas and Paul encountered a girl who practiced divination in the New Testament. 4
Satan is a liar, the devil does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him – he is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44.
God was constantly warning Israel not to listen to the prophets that lie, to not be deceived by those who prophesy out of their own heart who prophesy falsely in My name for I never sent them.5
Continuing on with verse three of our passage we are now informed that God’s anger burns against the false, useless shepherds.
1 Corinthians 1:3-4 says this:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Jesus’ mission statement, “To comfort all who mourn . . . “ from Isaiah 6:12, shows what our Good Shepherd is about. It was important to God that Israel had a shepherd. He states in Jeremiah 23:4 the following.
“I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor will they be lacking, says the Lord.”
Because of poor or lacking leadership the people were scattered as per Ezekiel 34:5, and here in verse 3 of Zechariah we hear that His anger is kindled against the shepherds and He is prepared to punish the leaders, (actually “goats.”).
The New Testament uses this word “goats” to refer to a judgment concerning the sheep and goats separation. Those, the goats, that neglected to comfort the sheep are harshly judged.
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these by Brethren you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40.
His anger is kindled against false shepherds. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture.” (Jeremiah 23:1-2.)
Jesus always had compassion on the people, but treated the poor spiritual leadership harshly. God holds leadership accountable. 1 Peter 4:17 has a stark reminder of this. “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” Peter continues the thought in 5:1-3 with, “elders . . .shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving . . . willingly . . . eagerly . . . being examples to the flock.”
Our example is our Good Shepherd.
Upon arriving at verse 4 of Zechariah 10 we read,
“Out of him [Judah from verse 3], came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.”
Lets unpack this verse somewhat. Out of Judah will come forth this “corner.”
This word corner is often associated with the word stone from which we get corner stone. I find it interesting that “corner” is from an unused root word meaning “to turn.”
I mention this because our Cornerstone, Jesus, is the “turning point” of everyone’s life! It is what we do concerning this “stone laid in Zion” that determines one’s eternal future.
Consider if you will Isaiah 28:16 which says,
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”
And as I have mentioned, it is upon considering this “tried stone,” (He was temped and tired in every way as we, yet without sin); a “precious cornerstone,” (purchased with the precious blood of Jesus); a “sure foundation stone, (the Rock of our salvation) that determines every person’s eternity.
The New Testament is alive with references to this metaphor concerning Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of our salvation. Here are a few.
“Jesus said unto them, Did you never read in the Scriptures *[aside re reading the word], The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes?”
Jesus is referencing Psalm 118:22. (Have you read it?)
Acts 4:11 speaking of Jesus:
“This was the stone that was set to nought [rendered zero in our life], of you builders which is become the head of the corner.”
This was Peter’s reply, “being filled with the Holy Spirit” to these rejecters of Jesus. The Jewish leadership – the builders of their spiritual house – the false shepherds – were constructing their building of faith after having thrown away the corner stone. That house will surely fall!
Romans 9:32-33 states that Israel was consumed with following the law and the works of their own hands that they were missing the requirement of faith as shown by Gentiles, that their house must be built up upon the cornerstone of Jesus.
“But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness has not attained unto the law of righteousness. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law, for they stumbled at the stumbling stone; As it is written ‘Behold I lay in Zion, a stumbling stone, and rock of offense: and whosoever believes on Him will not be ashamed.”
Here, the cornerstone is also referenced as a stumbling stone, a rock of offense.
The picture here is one of the spiritual leaders, the false shepherds, casting away the One on whom we need to cast all our cares; the One we are to depend upon, in faith, for our salvation. But the false shepherds have thrown the cornerstone aside and it is laying there upon the building site for people to stumble over!
Have you ever passed by a construction site and tripped over a cinder block just laying there? This is the picture. And this cast-aside stone will always be there catching our foot at every opportunity.
Again, in Ephesians 2:19-22 NLT.
“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together we are His house built on the foundation of Apostles and the Prophets. And the corner stone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple of the Lord. Through Him, you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit.”
Christ is the Cornerstone and we too are stones and a part of a holy structure.
But Jesus is a stumbling stone as outlined in 1 Corinthians 1:23.
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks, foolishness:”
This concept is perfectly summarized for us in 1 Peter 2:4-8 NLT.
“And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, ‘I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honour, and anyone who trusts Him will never be disgraced. Yes, you who trust Him recognize the honour that God has given Him. But for those who reject Him, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’” And, he is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, so they meet the fate that was appointed for them.”
So, the world of the unbeliever lead by the false shepherds is one that stumbles over two things – a rock and a tree. And the false shepherds continue to misguide, to deceive, and to allow the sheep of His flocks to wander away aimlessly.
Verse 4 of Zechariah also mentions “a nail” literally, a tent peg.
The tabernacle was anchored by its bronze pegs fitting into silver sockets.
Bronze speaks of judgment and silver speaks of blood.
The physical house of GOD – the tabernacle – was anchored and established firm by the judgment passed onto Christ. The perfect Lamb of God, whose innocent blood was absolutely necessary for our judgment to pass onto Him.
And as surely as the bronze tent pegs secured the tent to the ground, so were the nails that secured Jesus to the cross. The tabernacle was established, sure and firm and unmoving, a picture of Jesus, established sure and firm and unmoving, upon that tree, an absolute guarantee to the rock solid foundation of our faith and salvation. Praise be to God for His unspeakable grace and mercy!
I have been on a few camping trips and as we prepared to raise a tent the first thing we did was lay the tent upon the ground and hammer in the tent pegs. First things first, secure the tent pegs and then the tent can be raised to serve it purpose. The tent pegs of the Tabernacle were hammered in first before the structure could be raise to show forth a more complete picture of Jesus.
Once again, I implore you, Be grounded in His word!
Again returning to verse 4 of Zechariah 10 we have the expression, “battle bow.”
Jesus is the One who fights for us. Exodus 14:14 and 25.
“The LORD will fight for you and you will hold your peace.”
And God took off their chariot wheels so that they dragged heavily, so the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel for the LORD fights for them.’”
Throughout Scripture, the LORD fought for Israel, and it was only when He rose to battle that Israel was victorious. The same hold true for us today. The battle should never be entered into in our own strength, only in His.
The final phrase given in Zechariah 10:4 deserves some explanation.
“Out of him every oppressor together.”
Or in the NIV it reads
“from him every ruler.”
In the KJV the word oppressor is taken from an ancient root word meaning “to press, to drive, to drive as in a animal or workman or an army.”
The picture here is one of the LORD OF HEAVENLY ARMIES. That Christ will be the one who drives the armies of Heaven to the rescue of Israel. He will scatter all oppressors as well. The meaning is two-fold. Jesus will drive the rescue of Israel and drive off all oppressing armies in the last days.
In conclusion, these brief four verses that open Zechariah 10 are loaded with many astounding images. The key, from my point of view, is reflected in our title – A Rock and a Tree.
Our salvation and our secure established future rest solely with Christ. The cross of Christ is the turning point in every life. It is His work and not our own. We are totally dependent upon Him. He secured our justification while being secured upon that tree. And praise God He didn’t remain there! He is a living LORD that lives in each believer today.
Also, He is the rock – the cornerstone – of our salvation. A stone that likewise causes a decision, a stone of “turning.” Do we turn Him away, as some cast off stone of rejection or do we accept Him as the secure foundation of our faith.
“Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the days of rebellion. Hebrews 3:15. Amen.
1 Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 10:3-11; 51:17-18; Habakkuk 2:18-19.
2 Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Exodus 22:18;
3 2 Kings17:17; Jeremiah 14:14; 27: 9; 29:8-9; Micah 3:6; Ezekiel 12:24; 13.
4 Acts 16:16-18
5 Jeremiah 29:8-9.