A great leader, Abraham Lincoln September 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Zechariah 9-14

Good or Bad Leadership?

Many, if not most, Americans think of Abraham Lincoln as the best leader we ever had. What makes a good leader or a bad leader? Is it character, organizational skills, people skills, or something more? The Bible often speaks of leadership in the terms of shepherds leading and caring for their sheep. Those in leadership must exercise care over those they lead. In today’s Bible study, we see what good leadership and bad leadership looks like.

At this time in Jewish history, by God’s sovereign grace, 49,000 Israelites returned from exile in Babylon to their own ravaged land. They rebuilt the temple of the LORD, which Babylon destroyed when she attacked the city and burned it. The Jews rebuilt the altar, offered sacrifices to God, and laid the foundations for the temple. Because of neighborhood threats, however, the work stopped. God was not pleased! He gave messages to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, telling the people to repent, return to God, rise up, and rebuild.

God gave Zechariah dreams and visions with interpretations. The signs and symbols in these dreams showed them that the LORD has a future for His people. This encouraged them to rebuild the temple under the leadership of Governor Zurubbabel and Jeshua (Joshua) the High Priest. By God’s grace the temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius, King of Persia. God prospered Israel for their good leadership. Would that prosperity continue? Unfortunately, it would'nt.

In today's Bible reading, Zechariah 9-11 comprises one oracle and Zechariah 12-14 comprises a second and final oracle to Israel. Oracles are sayings or words of God. In these oracles Zechariah speaks of judgment and blessing.

Chapters 9-11 speak of God as the chief shepherd keeping watch over His under shepherds, the leaders of nations and of Israel. He will punish Tyre and the other nations on the Mediterranean coast for abusive leadership (Zechariah 9:1-8,13—these verses may be a reference to Greece conquering the area). He will also punish Israel for bad leadership (see the book of Malachi and Zechariah 10:2-3). Because of these things, God will remove His favor from Israel and the surrounding nations (Zechariah 11:10; 11:8b,14). This will bring war.

Under the leadership of Alexander the Great, the Greeks will conquer the whole known world, including the powerful kingdom of Persia. After his untimely death, Jerusalem will once again be devastated by wars between Alexander's succeeding generals. Antiochus Epiphanies IV, another Grecian general, will come later in the conflict, but he will be a madman. It is prophesied and confirmed in history, that after almost conquering Egypt and being turned back by Roman authorities, he will express his rage against the Jews and desecrate their temple. The Jews will fight against him in the Maccabean revolt (Zechariah 9:13). Afterwards, with an iron fist of power, Rome will crush all the nations and become the sole leader of the known world.

Then, because of God’s great compassion, Zechariah prophesies that the LORD will send His own shepherd, a gentle king (Zechariah 9:9). The king and shepherd are obvious references to God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Zechariah 9:16; 10:3; Matthew 21:5; John 10:11). He will become like a gentle shepherd king as He ministers on the earth. He will shepherd the Jews by preaching the kingdom of God, instructing them, encouraging them, healing their wounds, being kind to the poor, raising the dead, and giving them hope.

Jesus will then come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey like a peaceful king, to the praises of His Jewish people (Palm Sunday). Soon, thereafter, the religious leaders will have Him arrested. He will be rejected as king, sold for a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave gored by an ox (Zechariah 11:12; Exodus 21:32), and then be crucified. Three days later, Jesus will arise from the dead to give the hope of forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who wants to receive it (more...). However, He will not take His kingship at that time. Instead, He will leave parting instructions for His disciples to be witnesses of His grace and forgiveness and then return to His Father in heaven (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

Because of Israel’s rejection of her gentle shepherd king, Herod’s temple (the restored and expanded version of Solomon’s temple) will be destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Jews will be scattered or tortured to death. It is promised, however, that Jesus will come again as a victorious king and reunify the nation (Zechariah 9:14-17; 10:6-12).

What kind of shepherds are we? How do we lead others under our responsibility? Do we shepherd like Jesus, or are we only concerned for ourselves? Will we give our lives for others or keep it? God rewards faithful shepherds who lovingly serve their flocks.

Zechariah 12-14 speak of the LORD shepherding Israel for her good. God offers hope for Israel. Although Israel will go through a terrible time of trouble (the seven year tribulation recorded in the book of Revelation) and almost be destroyed, the LORD Jesus Christ will come back to save her (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 20:7-9). Some day all her enemies will be destroyed (Zechariah 12:1-6,9). Israel will mourn over her sins when she sees the Messiah whom she rejected return to this earth. But, she will receive national forgiveness and cleansing of her sins (Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1). All idolatry will be done away with—only God will be worshipped when Jesus comes to rule and reign over His kingdom (Zechariah 13-14). At last, holiness will rule and wickedness (typified by Canaan) will cease. There will be world-wide peace.

Do we shepherd others for their good? How do we handle our children, employees, citizens, or church members when they mess up? We may discipline them, but do we also forgive them? Do we speak words of hope to them? If we want loyalty and devotion, we must not only correct them but also give forgiveness and hope.

Lessons to Live By

  • Jesus was crucified and then arose from the dead three days later to give the hope of forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who wants to receive it (more...).
  • Bad leadership leads to God’s judgment and destruction.
  • God rewards faithful shepherds (spiritual leaders) who lovingly serve their flocks.
  • Good leadership consists of gentle instruction, encouragement, kindness, sacrificial service on behalf of others, correction when necessary, forgiveness, and inspirational hope.

Focus Verse

Zechariah 10:3 (NIV) “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle.”

If He cares for Israel He will also care for you (John 10:10-16, more...)

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A Look Ahead: There are times when God doesn't make sense and we wonder What's God Doing? This is what the Jews in Babylon want to know during the time of Queen Esther. Read about it in our Next Lesson.

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