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Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.Learn more
Two Culminating Events
By David C. Pack
NOTICE: This is the THIRTEENTH in a series of special announcements. They collectively unveil the massive, ongoing expansion that God’s Church, Work and Headquarters are experiencing. There is a reason for this expansion! The reader should contrast these announcements to the increasing bad news and bad events in UCG, LCG, PCG, COGwa and ALL splinters and slivers of the Worldwide Church of God. You must see what they are NOT announcing, and why they never will—and what GOD is bringing upon them. The place to start reading is either the fifth announcement—“God’s People Back Together—SOON!”—or the first one to catch up on all you have missed. If you begin with the fifth announcement, then read those before and after it. They are all important. An enormous and detailed prophecy is now being carried out by God. He is preparing events to soon bring His people back together—all of them. It is not my task to convince you the prophecy is true. God will do that! My job is to systematically lay out the specifics of what will happen and WHY—good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS A SINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT! If you do, CATCH UP. Also, you will miss the full impact if you skip sections of these announcements.
Before beginning this announcement, those watching the progress of God’s Church will be pleased to read of the next BIG DEVELOPMENT in His Work. We have finally been able to purchase 59 acres of adjacent woods and farmland to expand our campus—now upper and lower sections—to 88 acres, making it now three-quarters of a mile long. We are absolutely thrilled about this development. We have wanted this land for almost five years and nine months. And over this time we have come to really NEED it for a variety of reasons. Here are some: (1) A powerful agricultural program, featuring a small farm with barn, crops, livestock and poultry in the spirit of the Big Sandy agricultural program approved by Mr. Armstrong and directed by Mr. Dale Schurter to speak to the world about God’s form of agriculture. (2) Room for a much expanded summer camp that would by next year be on our own property—much easier than driving almost to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (3) A pavilion and ballfield for the Church, the camp and college activities. (4) Additional much needed parking space for activities right next door at a future Auditorium. (5) A few faculty residences. (6) A source for natural gas, lumber, food and water. (7) A place for possibly one college/camp community center/building.
There may be some other small adjoining properties that someday could be added, but it is this central addition that will allow the projected pattern of buildings, grounds and gardens to capture the elegance of the former Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, California, but also the more rural Big Sandy, Texas environment. It also brings in elements that will reflect the environment at Bricket Wood in England. The whole campus will be (and is already coming to be) woven in trees, gardens of every design, as well as one or more small lakes, a stream with three waterfalls (now complete) and other water features, all interwoven with uplit walkways and sitting areas.
With this advancement, enormously important infrastructure has basically all fallen into place to go forward with what all of these Friday articles are announcing.
The Full Picture
We return to Haggai’s all-important prophecy. We have reached the point that other passages—Old Testament and New—that are directly related must be explained. These final announcements will cover scriptures that have only been generally referenced so far (many not at all). They clarify critical aspects of the prophecy. God foretold that TWO culminating events would occur that would cause His people to suddenly return to His Church. God must use climactic actions—one shocking—to GET THE ATTENTION of His people. As I said last week, most are largely now not paying attention to these announcements because they think they have no reason to. Also from last week, regular readers of these posts realize that things miraculous are scheduled to occur. These must now be understood because they are drawing near.
These two announcements detail the sobering news inside the wonderful GOOD news of God’s awesome purpose for His people. However, if you have not yet read Parts One through Four of the Haggai series (Announcements 12-15), stop and read them first. Otherwise, this one will make no sense to you. What we are about to cover in the book of Zechariah parallels Haggai, and without Haggai’s foundation, the weight and power, as well as the sobering meaning, of Zechariah’s expansion of the prophecy is largely lost.
Understand. Much more than what you will read this week and next could be written. Many additional scriptures could be brought in to support points that are only briefly made here. Also, more meanings of Hebrew and Greek words could be brought in—many more—than those that are included. Even long articles have a limit. However, these two will still be longer than most of the others. Realize that I have covered this subject in an extensive series of sermons that average 90 minutes each, using a fairly rapid pace of delivery because there are so many details that God has included in His Word. There is enough material for at least two more sermons that I have only had time to cover at our recent Ministerial Conference. These sermons will eventually be made available for those who want to hear the details, as well as the order of understanding as God revealed it. While most might say today that they are not interested, this will soon change!
My job is to teach you what God says, not to convince you of what is coming or why. You will see that God has reserved for Himself the task of convincing you.
God Reveals Secrets
Before continuing we must also grasp something repeated from before. I am neither a prophet nor have I any self-prescribed authority to bring any prophecies. What will be shown is entirely GOD’S prophecy—from HIS WORD—explained and conveyed through the only office He ever uses to bring biblical truth to His Church (Acts 2:42; Eph. 2:20). The Bible warns that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20). But God does work through His chosen servants. In fact, He never reveals His Plan through anyone else. The many sermons I have given, including much of what you have read and will read, bring GOD’S interpretation of phrases, symbols and terms that He uses, not my private opinions. The reader will find that a crucial part of Zechariah holds powerful keys, but was written in code. But nothing within it is complicated. Each verse has a clear explanation if we just allow the Bible—meaning GOD!—to interpret the meaning through other scriptures. The “code” it is written in becomes easily unlocked.
Most are aware of Amos 3:7 and God’s promise there: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets.” (This means one or more prophets must record every future action that God intends to carry out.) But few ever think through that someone has to teach the MEANING of what the prophets recorded. Otherwise, the secret remains a secret. False prophets and false teachers never get these secrets right because God is not using them. He works through the servant that He IS using, and the explanation is both correct and makes sense against ALL related verses. The bigger the prophecy—and this one is GIANT—the greater the importance for God to “reveal His secret,” but then only to His people, not the world. Recall that Haggai himself is called “the Lord’s messenger” who brings “the Lord’s message” to His people. Haggai contains BIG secrets. Thus, at God’s selected time, someone—think about this—SOMEONE, from somewhere—has to explain this “Lord’s message” to God’s people or Haggai cannot be a messenger—to anyone. It is that simple. This is MY role.
I speak personally for a moment. I could wish that some of what you will read in the next two announcements I did not have to write. But I do. I have long known what was happening at the top of the biggest splinters—totally false leaders—that the top leaders are among the most seductive “angels of light” (II Cor. 11:13-15) to have ever deceived and afflicted the people of God. But understand. While the top leaders are far from the only problem in these organizations, it is these men who form a unique impediment—a powerful OBSTRUCTION—to God’s stated purpose for His end-time Church and Work. I have also long wondered what God would DO about these men. How would He help His thousands of people who are today trapped under an absolute blizzard of powerful deception and lies? I knew something had to be done about these leaders and that at the right time God would do it, but for a long time I did not know what it was. One year ago I learned that God had “reserved” an end-time “remnant” of His people who were as hidden to those of us in His Church as the faithful 7,000 were to Elijah in I Kings 19:18. (The apostle Paul referenced this New Testament remnant in Romans 11:3-5.) Next, I began to learn almost nine months ago not only what would happen with this remnant but why. You are about to learn more than the basics of these things.
First some important review.
Recall Zechariah 8:9 and that God tells His people living at the end how they should “hear” the words of both Haggai and Zechariah: “Thus says the Lord of hosts; let your hands be strong, you that hear in these days [our time now] these words by the mouth of the prophets [Haggai and Zechariah], which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.” These announcements have brought the plain understanding about how the book of Haggai relates to God’s people, but we have not yet examined ZECHARIAH. This book is absolutely crucial, and God right here says as much. I repeat: Haggai cannot be fully understood apart from Zechariah—but also vice-versa. Neither book is complete without the other. They must be studied together.
Alongside Haggai, God has in fact hidden the most dramatic details of what happens to His people in another place—a chapter in Zechariah! This chapter adds key elements to the picture in Haggai.
Some review from announcement #12. First mentioned in the book of Ezra (5:1-2), Haggai and Zechariah were prophets who served alongside each other around 520 BC, and it says “prophesied” during the time of the Jews returning from Babylonian captivity—when the Temple in Jerusalem was being rebuilt. They recorded PROPHECIES—not history!—which had no application for the ancient Jews of their time. The events described in these two books clearly take place at the end of the age. Haggai and Zechariah recorded events that have mostly not yet happened, although elements of what they foretold have greatly advanced since Mr. Armstrong’s death. Also remember that these prophets include instruction to the ancient figures Zerubbabel and Joshua, and that these men were types of leaders in God’s Church who would come two and a half millennia later. Each of these modern types is spoken to in his own time—to men who worked primarily sequentially, not in parallel as in Ezra.
Revisiting Mr. Armstrong
Recall what Mr. Armstrong taught about Haggai and Zechariah being prophetic. Again, we have so far only focused on Haggai’s prophecy. Mr. Armstrong saw the importance of connecting these TWO BOOKS. He also knew that Zerubbabel and one called Joshua were both involved in building God’s House:
“All the way through Haggai and Zechariah, the local TYPE, of Zerubbabel and Joshua building God’s House, is in reality a prophecy which actually refers to OUR TIME NOW, and the soon coming of CHRIST to RULE all nations and bring WORLD PEACE!
“God said to those people under Zerubbabel and Joshua, they were wasting their labor, ‘sowing much, and bringing in little.’ This was due to their selfishness, lack of zeal for the work God called them to do, and self-centered WAY OF LIFE. Then, verse 12, Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the people repented and OBEYED God, and feared God, and WENT TO WORK getting God’s job done!”
Co-Worker Letter, August 29, 1974
Mr. Armstrong could not have foreseen the apostasy that produced the very attitude he described. Yet his description is amazingly accurate. He knew enough to lay the foundation for all that God would reveal a generation after he was gone.
Remnant “Obeys” and “Fears”
The best place to start is to reread a key portion in Haggai: “…ALL the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spoke Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, says the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel…and the spirit of Joshua…and the spirit of ALL the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord [God’s Church] of hosts, their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month…” (1:12-15).
The Hebrew for obeyed (shama) means “to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention): consider, diligently, discern, give ear, listen, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, regard, understand.” The context shows the remnant finally begins to hear God after decades of ignoring Him. Verse 12 describes the remnant as “fearing” God. This is not speaking primarily about the “fear of God.” Let’s see this. The Hebrew for fear means “to fear; to revere; to frighten: dread (-ful).” The word before is better translated “because of.” God does something that frightens the remnant and causes them to listen. Whatever this trauma is—you will learn it momentarily!—the people finally start listening to God. Thousands today who have God’s Spirit are NOT listening to Him. They are largely NOT “considering their ways” (Hag. 1:5, 7)—doctrines, standards, traditions, behavior, etc.
Haggai 1:14 also reveals the FIRST culminating event that occurs. GOD’S SPIRIT stirs His people to act, alongside another culminating event that we will cover momentarily. The Hebrew for “stirred” in Haggai 1:14 means “(through the idea of opening the eyes); to wake: lift up, raise up, stir up.” This stirring is what ultimately causes all of God’s people to return from their “houses” to work again in GOD’S House. And notice the Scripture describes it culminating in a single day. God, through His Spirit, reassures His people that “I am with you” (in this case, back with them)—and to “fear not” in the human sense of fear—after He had previously removed them from His Church and held back blessings from them and their groups. Terribly frightened from what they just saw, God now calms them so they can go forward in peace to fulfill His purpose.
We are ready to begin examination of Zechariah, specifically chapter 11. This chapter was never openly discussed in the Worldwide Church of God. I never heard Mr. Armstrong talk about it even once. Since the apostasy, there have only been a few crazy opinions about Zechariah 11, but all of them have been disproven. The reader will find that the prophecies outlined in Zechariah 11—three main ones!—are among the most enormous prophecies in the entire Bible!
Some more background before beginning. Zechariah 11 is an inset in the flow of this prophetic book. The chapter describes events that happen before Christ’s Return. Chapters 10 and 14, among others, are obviously millennial. As we study each verse in chapter 11, every word and phrase becomes important, along with the tense. We will read the three prophecies God presents, carefully expanding on them. Zechariah sheds more light on Haggai’s prophecy and reveals more about how God’s people are gathered back to unity.
Of the three elements to Zechariah 11, two are summarized in what we will see are “staves” (staffs) that God calls “Beauty” (more correctly “Grace”) and “Bands.” Let’s briefly look ahead to the verse 7 description so we can keep this in mind as we read: “…And I took unto Me two staves; the one I called Beauty [Grace], and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.” We will see these two elements are interwoven throughout this chapter. “Grace” relates to God’s Church, while “Bands” has to do with the relationship between the physical nations of modern Israel and their brother Judah. The third prophecy in the chapter (vs. 15-17) speaks about a “foolish shepherd” whom God “raises up” after these two staves are “broken.”
Verses 1 and 2 relate to Zechariah 10, and involve the physical nation of Judah as it exits the Great Tribulation. For those who want to study that prophecy, it picks up again in chapter 12, verse 1. Our study begins in verse 3 with two groups.
Zechariah 11:3: “There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.”
The first element of this verse relates to God’s flock, and involves the staff “Grace.” The second element speaks to events in Judah—“Bands.” Of course, Judah is the modern Middle Eastern nation of Israel. It will become clear that God enters the prophecy by introducing two voices of anguish that are occurring late in His purpose. The rest of the chapter is God going back in time to explain why certain “shepherds” are howling and why a group called “young lions” are roaring. You will see he alternates between the subject of “Grace” and “Bands” (with an inset about Christ’s betrayal in verses 12-13) through verse 14. This is crucial to understand because it unlocks so much meaning. In fact, this key point almost makes the prophecy easy to understand.
Now let’s look more closely at the Hebrew. Howling is directly related to a word that means “to howl (with a wailing tone) or yell (with a boisterous one)…be howling.” Glory can also be translated “something ample (as a large vine, a wide dress)…garment, glory, goodly, mantle, robe.” These shepherds have a certain glory, wealth and office—they are “respected” men in high positions of authority. Spoiled means “properly to be burly…(figuratively) powerful (passively impregnable); by implication to ravage: dead, destroy (-er), oppress, robber, spoil (-er), utterly, (lay) waste.”
Shepherds obviously references ministers—but what kind? First, the Hebrew means “to tend a flock, pasture it…generally to rule…herdman, keep [sheep] (-er), pastor, shepherd.” We will see these are anguished shepherds over part of God’s flock in places outside His Church because of what they have just witnessed—and lost. Their power and authority (“glory”) have been destroyed, ravaged, laid waste. The reference cannot be to worldly ministers. Let’s slowly prove this.
Finally, roaring can also be translated “a rumbling or moan: roaring.” “Young lions” is a likely reference to Israeli military officers and officials (Gen. 49:9) who are also in anguish over loss of support, friendship and political connection from the rest of the modern nations of Israel, but chiefly the United States. This proud and powerful army, because it belongs to a small but proud nation, will similarly see its pride “spoiled.”
Both of these “staves” will take on greater meaning as the chapter continues.
Zechariah 11:4: “Thus says the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter…”
The prophecy returns to “Grace.” This is instruction to someone about a duty to God’s people. But who? First, this much is obvious because God is not telling Himself to do this. He is addressing someone else. Second, “feed” is the same word translated “shepherd” one verse earlier. So this is instruction to someone to shepherd a particular flock. Obviously this includes feeding them—but shepherding transcends feeding, which is merely a part of taking care of sheep. Note that in this chapter this word is translated five times as “shepherd” and three times as “feed,” but it is always the same Hebrew word. Crucial meaning is lost because the translators freely interchanged the English words. Keep this in mind.
The God of the Old Testament inspiring Zechariah was the same Jesus Christ who inspired the apostle Peter to instruct ministers to “Feed the flock of God” (I Pet. 5:2). (Christ had earlier personally told Peter to do this in John 21:15-17.) The word feed in I Peter is also mistranslated. It is shepherd (Grk: poimen) not feed (Grk: bosko). The apostle Paul in Acts 20:28 is also mistranslated when he told the Ephesian elders to “Feed the Church of God.” The word again is poimen not bosko. Christ shepherds His flock. He wants ministers to shepherd His flock, feeding included. This is about to become important.
Ultimately, Jesus always uses human servants to aid in shepherding His people. This starts with apostles. This verse 4 “shepherding” process has been happening through these Friday announcements. It has certainly involved more than this, but this is perhaps the most important to keep in mind for our purpose here.
The term “flock of slaughter” cannot be talking about literal sheep. What—or who—does it mean? The Bible must tell us. God’s Word must interpret itself. Psalm 44:22 starts the process: “Yes, for Your sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” Before later amplifying the context of this passage in Psalm 44, realize the apostle Paul uses several verses to lead up to quoting it in Romans 8:35-36. Speaking to the Romans about themselves and Christians in general, he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Your sake WE [true Christians] are killed all the day long; WE [true Christians] are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Realize that Paul quoted the only other place in the Old Testament that uses this term—Psalm 44:22. The flock of slaughter is the Church of God. It is Christ’s “little flock” of Luke 12:32. While this “little flock of slaughter” has always been persecuted all through the ages, we will see that in this case it is undergoing a special kind of slaughter—a spiritual slaughter under the hand of its own leaders. While so much more could be said here, the next verse makes this clearer.
Zechariah 11:5: “Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.”
Who are these shepherd “possessors” slaying the flock? Who are the shepherds that have become “rich” from buying and selling God’s people?
The Hebrew brings clues. Focus on the words in italics and CAPS. Possessors can also be translated “…to procure, especially by purchase; by implication to own: attain, buy (-er)…get…possess (-or), purchase.” Sell in the Hebrew means “to sell, literally (as MERCHANDISE).” We already saw that “shepherds” would be ministers.
Now II Peter 2: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who [privately] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves SWIFT DESTRUCTION. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness [enriching themselves and their organizations] shall they with feigned words make MERCHANDISE of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not” (vs. 1-3).
These verses explode with meaning for those wanting to know who are the shepherds of Zechariah 11. (Several other very specific New Testament verses add more.) Note that the immediate context in which Peter wrote (three verses earlier) was the “more sure word of prophecy.” If there is the sure word of prophecy, so to speak, then what we are discussing is called the “MORE sure word of prophecy.”
For decades, brethren have been deceived by leaders they assumed were carrying on with what Mr. Armstrong taught. God’s tithes have enriched these top leaders who have bought and sold God’s people between groups, as well as through one split after another carrying people away into other new groups as though they were so much merchandise to take from a store. These “shepherds” have not pitied the flock, nor are they shepherding them, although they do remember to regularly say “Blessed be the Lord.” God knows that they are slaughtering these sheep with false doctrines, false “Works” palmed off as God’s Work, false governments, false traditions, open door policies that allow the world in the door, false standards and the permission of all forms of wrong behavior.
Zechariah 11:6: “For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, says the Lord: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbor’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.”
Verse 6 returns to the “Bands” prophecy and speaks to what God will do to the physical nations of Israel. Take a moment to read Luke 21:20-24, among related verses in Christ’s Olivet prophecy. God says there is coming a parallel time when HE will not pity the “land”—the nations of Israel—in the same way certain leaders among His people today—those trapped outside His Church under lying “angels of light”—are not being pitied.
Zechariah 11:7: “And I will feed [Heb: shepherd] the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto Me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed [shepherded] the flock.”
Verse 7 returns to “Grace” (but also quickly mentions “Bands.”) We saw verse 7 is a kind of summary statement about two of the three main elements of the prophecy. First focus on “And I will shepherd the flock of slaughter.” After God tells His chief human servant to “Feed (shepherd) the flock of slaughter” (His Church) in verse 4, He next says that HE will do this. This is an instance of God reserving to Himself aspects of shepherding that He must handle—things He must do because no human being could. His emphasis within the “flock of slaughter” is that He will shepherd the “POOR of the flock”—the humble and lowly who will listen to Him. Most brethren once knew that God’s Church is in many places described as “the poor.” (Isaiah 66:2, Matthew 5:3 and 11:5 are the barest few among dozens of others you may read.)
Next notice the change in verb tense. The description changes from “I will feed (shepherd) the flock” to “I fed (shepherded) the flock.” Something happened to make this possible. Verse 8 tells us PART of what it is, but it is Verse 7 that begins introducing the second culminating event.
Finally, realize that God takes both staffs—“Grace” and “Bands”—into His hands at the same time. This fact will become more important near the end of this article.
Zechariah 11:8: “Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and My soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred Me.”
Now the second culminating event. We saw the “shepherds” throughout Zechariah cannot be religious leaders overseeing congregations (flocks) in the world. Otherwise, which three ministers would it be referencing? We could never know. And what would the removal of ANY three worldly ministers, occurring in ANY particular month, ever have to do with God being able to feed a flock that was being slaughtered? Remember, we saw this flock is His flock. No matter how influential any three worldly ministers might be, their removal from power would not affect GOD’S PEOPLE. Protestant ministers and Catholic priests are not deceiving (slaughtering) God’s people. Do you know a single person who thinks they are?
An overview of key phrases provides clues. Verse 8 describes men whom God loathes and who also abhor Him—even though we saw they say “Blessed be the Lord.” Loathed can also mean “to dock off, curtail…especially to harvest…cut down…lothe, reap (-er), (be, wax) short (-en, -er)…” Abhorred means “to loathe…abhor, get hastily.” The phrase “one month” is easily understood by just recalling Haggai, which describes events taking place in the sixth month. “Cut off” can also be translated “to destroy: conceal, cut down (off), desolate, hide.” The meaning is obvious.
FIVE Biblical Parallels—THREE Obstructionists Removed
Earlier in the announcement series we saw Ezra and Nehemiah are historical parallels of what Haggai and Zechariah recorded. (Recall that these prophets lived during Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s time.) It is more than interesting that both parallels reference three enemies at work hindering God’s purpose. Ezra describes three “adversaries”—Bishlam, Mithredath and Tabeel (Ezra 4:1, 7)—who plagued the people’s efforts to rebuild the temple. At a certain point in the account, these enemies simply disappear. The temple is completed. The context shows that there were other unnamed lesser enemies whose adversarial purpose was also defeated, with these also never a factor again.
In an account of events about 80 years later, the book of Nehemiah describes in greater detail another three enemies (much worse ones) working against God’s purpose—Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem (Neh. 2:19)—who plagued Nehemiah during the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. These truly wicked men worked directly against Nehemiah (the governor) and those assisting him—plotting, attacking, hindering and threatening them. These three did everything in their power to stop God’s purpose. After Nehemiah prayed for God to intervene, they also suddenly disappeared because by Elul 25 (Neh. 6:15) they are gone and the wall around Jerusalem was completed. Exactly as with Ezra, the context again shows that there were other unnamed lesser enemies whose adversarial purpose was also defeated, with these also never a factor again (vs. 16).
The last two paragraphs are the barest description of books the serious reader will want to study to understand the magnitude of both the parallels and of what these two sets of evil men did. But there is actually a third account—another set of three men—to consider. They involved the early days of Solomon’s reign, right after David his father had warned his son about enemies who had plagued David’s reign and who Solomon should remove. The Church long understood that Solomon’s 40-year reign in Israel was a type of the Millennium when Christ would bring peace to the whole world. A type of Christ, Solomon’s very name means “peace.” Almost immediately in his reign, Solomon had to put three men to death—Adonijah, Joab and Shimei. Their actions involved conspiracy, two of them trying to seize power, prevent peace and upset the kingdom of Israel, as well as God’s purpose.
There is even a fourth trio outside Zechariah 11 who are similarly dealt with—and like Zechariah 11, it is also future. Every member of the Church has long understood that God is going to soon miraculously intervene with the whole world, and that before the Millennium, He is going to bind the devil and destroy both the Beast and False Prophet with fire. Yet again, we see three individuals will have to be removed miraculously—and at the same time (Rev. 19:19 through 20:1)—for Jesus Christ to rule the world with the saints. Solomon’s experience with three enemies addressed quickly before peace could ensue in his kingdom is seen to be an even greater type of Christ’s Millennial reign because of what Christ must carry out to achieve future peace in His kingdom. Alongside Solomon, the three shepherds in Zechariah become a second parallel—preceding type—of action that Christ must take before His reign of 1,000 years. And similarly, for Christ to have peace in His Church—peace among His people—He must again intervene. Otherwise, obstruction of His great end-time purpose—finishing His Work—would continue.
Whether it is the three men of Ezra’s time, the three of Nehemiah’s time, the three of Solomon’s time, the three of our time or the three that Christ must remove before He can rule the world, these “trios” have in common that they all sought to block God’s purpose in their time (the devil of course across all time). Three of these trios are past, two are future—one soon, the other just a few years away.
Regarding Ezra, Nehemiah and Solomon, every reader would do well to remember that Paul wrote how all such accounts, “Are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11), and “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). If there is one thing God’s people need today throughout the splinters, it is HOPE that things will get better. Finally, ask if you find it mere coincidence that Haggai and Zechariah lived and prophesied during a time when three men attempted to thwart the rebuilding of God’s physical Temple (Zerubbabel’s), and whether it seems reasonable to you that God would use both of these prophets to foretell a time when three men would again seek to thwart the rebuilding of God’s spiritual Temple at the end of the age? Read again I Corinthians 10:11 and Romans 15:4 before answering.
A Flock “Cast Off”—Ripe for Opportunists
Returning to Zechariah, Christ’s great overall purpose in working with and testing His people involved first allowing an apostasy. He knew this would automatically breed religious opportunists—nature abhors a vacuum, in politics, business or religion—who would come teaching just enough of the truth that people who had grown weak spiritually would fall prey to them, thinking they were continuing on as they should merely because they had left the Worldwide Church of God. But this path would also permit these thousands to learn bitter, but equally powerful, lessons that could later save their eternal lives when Christ’s time to deliver them arrived! It served Christ’s purpose to keep His people out of His Church—in the world. There they could learn, learn, and learn some more, all wrapped around suffering and affliction (Psa. 119:67, 71). Brethren had drifted from God. They had quickly accepted numerous false doctrines and lowered standards of behavior almost immediately following Mr. Armstrong’s death. I repeat: They had made themselves ripe for opportunists to sweep in and take advantage.
God’s people—the flock of slaughter—became trapped in what Psalm 44:19 calls “the place of dragons.” The “place of dragons” is simply the world. There is only the Church and the world on planet Earth. A person is either in one or the other. Read in Ephesians 6:12 about “wicked spirits”—“dragons”—that control this world under the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). Take note. If Michael is called both a “great prince” (Dan. 12:1) and a “great eagle” (Rev. 12:14), and other New Testament passages refer to angels as “eagles,” then Satan, who is called the great dragon (Rev. 12:9), leads millions of demons, the other lesser dragons (“wicked spirits”). After all, there are no literal dragons on Earth. The “place of dragons” is where GOD put His people. This is not my opinion, but rather the Bible interpreting itself. Read the latter half of Psalm 44 and you will see another reason the apostle Paul described Christians as the flock of slaughter. The people described in the Psalm are not ancient Israelites—or modern ones. We should know this since many of us sang the words of this Psalm for decades of our lives (check your old hymnal). The subjects there are converted people who were delivered to Satan to gain important learning. As bitter as this realization will be for many to accept, accept it you must, because the alternative—rejecting this meaning—will momentarily be seen to lead to a much more bitter outcome!
Further, in the obviously prophetic Psalm 44, verses 9 and 23 describe the people there as being “cast off.” This is another way of saying, “delivered to Satan” in order to learn big lessons and ultimately receive salvation. Read I Corinthians 5:5, I Timothy 1:20 and then Job 1 and 2 if you do not believe God sometimes delivers even His greatest servants into the hand of the devil in order to teach them crucial matters about their character.
Christ As Shepherd
But the time has come for God to deal with these three men. They have gone from being in God’s purpose to being IN HIS WAY. For over two decades, modern enemies have thwarted God’s Work. Top leaders have bought and sold God’s people to enrich themselves. These wolves have kidnapped the brethren, stolen God’s tithes and blocked HIS Work from advancing to the size and scope that it should have reached, and still must reach.
Jesus Christ is a shepherd. He is about to again actively shepherd His flock. What should He be expected to do to wolves now in His path? What would any good shepherd do when he sees wolves close by—in this case among and over—his flock? Remove them! II Peter 2 describes “swift destruction” falling on certain false teachers. At a point, their “judgment” no longer “lingers” and their “damnation” no longer “slumbers.” We have almost reached this time.
Dramatic supernatural intervention is necessary for God to regather His flock—a flock trapped under a constant barrage of lies and deceit. Zechariah 11 should not be surprising. All of this is something GOD does—and ONLY God could do—not any man. No human being could ever carry out such things. God would never ask them to—or permit them to. Of course, His enemies happily assert otherwise about us. It is in their devil-inspired interest to spew their insane, hateful accusations. But at least these “haters of the Lord” (Psa. 81:15) always come as advertised—they are easy to identify for people thinking even a little. God will soon enough also “reward them according to their works” (II Tim. 4:14).
Getting the Remnant’s Attention
By dealing with and removing top leaders, God gets His people’s attention. The remnant finally starts listening to Him again. Recall Haggai. There is a point when brethren become frightened—now better understood to be because of what God did. They suddenly begin “considering their ways” after years of ignoring God. Any parent knows that to get his child to listen sometimes he must bring punishment. God is no different. He must traumatize His people to wake them up to their condition—but also remove the sources of deceit that are blocking their ability to see events and conditions as they are, and to see their own spiritual complacency. Although the event of Zechariah 11:8 is big, it is not the only thing that brings God’s people back together. Something else BIGGER happens—the powerful stirring of God’s Spirit as God works with His people—AFTER His actual “voice” is heard speaking to them from heaven. This speaking from heaven is covered in the final two announcements.
Again recall Haggai. The central issue has always been the obstruction of God’s Work by false leaders—angels of light. God’s people being scattered has caused His House to “lie waste” (Hag. 1:4, 9). Recall Mr. Armstrong’s quotes from previous announcements about the greatest Work ever being carried out just before Christ’s Return. God must bring His people back to do His Work. They are currently doing their own “works” in other places under false leaders. God says He will stop this, and this is tied directly to the phrase “I shepherded the flock.”
Sadly, loss of life—in this case of wolves, but this would be true of any deaths—becomes a topic of sensation. But should it be? Think! God’s purpose before the age is complete will involve vastly more deaths than three. Consider. ALL Laodiceans—every one of them—will die (horribly) in the Great Tribulation, and these are all converted people (not wolves). Next, the four horsemen of Revelation 6 will take one-quarter of all mankind (vs. 8). Still further, many millions of the modern descendants of Israel will lose their lives in the Tribulation, with the “lucky ones” entering captivity. Then there are the worldwide plagues of the Day of the Lord—as well as the armies that Christ destroys coming from Armageddon. At the beginning of the Millennium, there will even be plagues and droughts on nations who will not keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-19)—and at the end of the Millennium sudden destruction will fall on the masses (called “Gog and Magog”) who rebel and attack God’s people in Jerusalem (Rev. 20:8).
If this relatively small aspect (a single verse) of an enormous prophecy (involving hundreds of verses) intrigues, titillates or is the subject of fascination to you above so much powerful biblical knowledge, then your thinking is WRONG. The death of three shepherds is basically a footnote in God’s GRAND and AWESOME plan to retrieve His flock and put them to work in the greatest Work God has ever done on the face of the earth. THAT should be your focus—and this begins with CONSIDERING YOUR WAYS when God’s “attention-getter” comes to pass.
It is not my purpose to tell you who the three shepherds are, what day they will be removed or how they die. God will supply answers to those questions soon enough. Frankly, such questions are not nearly as big as other questions. It is my job to explain what Zechariah 11 MEANS and how it will affect YOU in your life and why YOU had better listen when God gets His people’s attention. It will take all of these actions for most to finally ACT. But the next verse reveals that some will not make the right decision.
Zechariah 11:9: “Then said I [God], I will not feed you [those who did not act]: that that dies, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.”
This verse describes three categories of those who will not return to God’s Church when given the final opportunity. Understand. Not everyone will choose to obey God. Many will not come back. (Take time to read carefully Matthew 22 and Luke 14.) A group that God no longer calls “the flock,” but simply “you,” will in some cases (1) “die” of themselves and in other cases (2) be “cut off” (the same Hebrew word found in verse 8). There may be more ministers who face God’s wrath and justice if they begin to buy and sell God’s sheep again.
Finally, (3) are those who attack and devour (“eat”) each other, probably fighting over remaining scraps. Chaos and increased division may ensue, with those who refuse to obey God fracturing and dissipating entirely. The era of scores and hundreds of WCG offshoot groups will end. Announcement #16 showed how for years the many competing “Church of God” groups have only served to confuse brethren, but also those in the world, about where God is working. We receive many emails that demonstrate the sad, divided condition of God’s people (and the world’s view of the Church) after the apostasy. Such emails are terribly time consuming (and unending) to deal with. Haggai’s prophecy plainly reveals the competition—the confusing, opposing works being done in other “houses”—will be forcibly STOPPED! In fact they must be for God’s Work to be properly carried out and finished! Mercifully, this will happen soon! ALL SUCH COMPETITION TO GOD’S WORK WILL CEASE! (Next week I will give six biblical proofs of this.) The next verse explains why this will happen—because there will be no one—NOT ONE PERSON!—with God’s Spirit remaining outside His Church.
Zechariah 11:10-11: “And I took My staff, even Beauty [Grace], and cut it asunder, that I might break My covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon Me knew that it was the word of the Lord.”
How does God “break His covenant”? Which covenant is God referencing? Keep this simple. Think of the covenant that God made with Abraham that is summarized in the terms “race” and “grace.” “Race” had to do with special physical blessings given to certain peoples—the descendants of the tribes of Israel. The promise of “grace” began with Jesus Christ and of course relates to spiritual salvation. The context of Zechariah 11 is God working with His Spirit-begotten people and feeding His precious flock. It should be obvious that the covenant being referred to is the one relating to “Grace.” (The better translation than “Beauty.”) This covenant is summarized throughout the New Testament.
Verses 10-11 describe God breaking this covenant—the New Testament covenant—with a group of formerly true Christians in a single day (“in that day”). ALL with God’s Spirit are described as having returned to work in His House (Hag. 1:14-15). But some make the wrong choice. Those who do not return to God’s Church by this day are severed from God! God breaks His relationship with them, symbolized by snapping a staff and now reducing these people merely to “you.” Of course many in the splinters who will not return never had the Holy Spirit (this was true in the WCG). They cannot lose what they never had. Note that “the poor of the flock” is referenced again in verse 11—the group that God (Christ) said He would shepherd in verse 7—and that THEY are the ones who recognize all that happened was GOD’S DOING!
All-important Work of God’s Spirit—in You!
There is a personal element to the Zechariah prophecy. Previous announcements explained that a loving God has a Master Plan to bring every individual with His Spirit back to His Church. Every true Christian around the world who does not take action—at the certain crucial date revealed in Haggai 1:15—I repeat, will lose God’s Spirit. Put another way, there will be no remnant of the remnant! Those who resist the powerful “stirring” of God’s Spirit in them—who continued ignoring the persistent voice of Christ seeking to lead them—have ended their relationship with God. God is unmistakably clear that this is what happens to such people.
I repeat yet again: those who do not come—laymember, minister, rich, poor, young or old—will LOSE GOD’S SPIRIT! Both Haggai and Zechariah support and confirm one another in this regard. God will be DONE with those who do not follow HIM to HIS House to do HIS Work!
With joy, Christ bought you once. He will not do it twice (Heb. 10:26-27)! Many passages reveal that true Christians CAN FALL AWAY! May God help YOU recognize this can include YOU, and that it involves whether YOU follow Christ back to His Church—where everything wonderful about true Christianity can begin again for YOU. (Read my thorough article “ALL God’s People Back Together—SOON!” if you have not done so. Consider reading it again if you already have. It explains in much more detail the process of God’s Spirit working in His people.)
Zechariah 11:12-13: “And I said unto them, If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”
Verses 12-13 are a kind of inset in the prophecy. These verses are their own powerful prophecy about Jesus Christ’s First Coming. Beginning Christians learn that God writes His Word “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10, 13). These two inset verses are an example of this. Their fulfillment is found in Matthew 26:15 and 27:5-8. But Zechariah 11:12-13 also have an application to the Haggai/Zechariah prophecy. Future announcements will explain more about how this passage about Christ’s betrayal (taking place right before Passover) ties into the prophecy.
Zechariah 11:14: “Then I cut asunder My other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.”
Verse 14 requires very little interpretation. The bond between the tiny nation of Judah and the modern great nations of Israel has always been strong, chiefly between America and Israel. But God foretells a time—RIGHT AFTER THE “GRACE” PROPHECY IS FULFILLED—when this special relationship will be broken, and by HIM. For those who are diligently watching world events, many news articles show that this connection is being severely strained, and is threatening to snap—to break completely. The thinking reader will see that the evidence of the now imminent fulfillment of “Bands” becomes its own powerful indicator of the even more imminent fulfillment of “GRACE,” which precedes it. To appreciate how closely “Grace” and “Bands” are fulfilled, recall that God takes up both staffs AT THE SAME TIME. No one does this with any two objects unless he is about to use or address both things together or almost together. See that the staffs are not picked up sequentially, but rather simultaneously—that they are broken so close together that God pulls them to Himself in one stroke. We are supposed to see that this is not by accident.
After Israel and Judah are severed from one another, one more event must take place, and it is crucial.
Zechariah 11:15-17: “And the Lord said unto me, Take unto you yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that stands still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws [more correctly translated “hooves,” implying a flock] in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaves the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.”
These final three verses constitute the third element of the Zechariah 11 prophecy. Think of this element in the following way to appreciate its importance. It forms the “caboose” of a three-car train speeding into the “station.” “Grace” is the engine and “Bands” is the one boxcar. God as much as thunders that the foolish shepherd’s arrival—the caboose—comes directly on the heels of the other two elements of the prophecy, “Grace” and “Bands.” Mentioned earlier, the appearance of this individual is outlined. God says that HE (again something that no man can do) “will raise up” this figure, and that this man will not care for the “flock.” This individual “eats the flesh of the fat”—meaning the rich. Verse 17 reveals his fate.
Soothing reassurances from your leaders about how things are “going well” and “don’t pay attention to nonsense from false teachers about how we are going to disappear” are about to come to an end. Soon, real deceivers will no longer be able to reverse the picture so flippantly by calling ME a deceiver. God speed this time so all of His people can know where they ought to be.
Next week I will explain more about Zechariah 11, as well as some New Testament passages and certain Psalms that powerfully confirm what God is carrying out. DO NOT MISS IT!