Thirty Pieces of Silver

In one month I disposed of the three shepherds, for I had become impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die; what is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed; and let those that are left devour the flesh of one another!” I took my staff Favor and broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep merchants, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. I then said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it into the treasury”—this lordly price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the LORD. Then I broke my second staff Unity, annulling the family ties between Judah and Israel.

Then the LORD said to me: Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd. For I am now raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. (Zechariah 11:8-16)

Don’t trust the smiling man. No matter how well-intentioned he might be, in the end, he’s going to disappoint you. Matthew quoted Zechariah’s words and applied them to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the average price of a slave (Matthew 27:6-10 See also Solving a Theological Problem). God also warned that the breaking of staffs and the casting away of the money were images of the captivity of Israel and Judah in Assyria and Babylon respectively—and of the scattering that would follow the Roman destruction of Jerusalem barely a generation after Jesus’ resurrection.

People look to the rulers of the world to solve their problems, imagining that a king, a prince, some government official, some elected representative, some religious leader, some new law or regulation, is going to fix all the problems in their world. But in reality, such shepherds cannot care for the perishing or heal the maimed: they care only for themselves and only serve their own ends.

Only God can genuinely fix a life. Only God is unselfish in all his actions. Only God can satisfy us. Only God can make our lives better. Looking to powerful people, looking to material things, is always going to disappoint us in the end.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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