27 December 2010

Dec 27

Reference links:
Old Testament

I did not get today's reading. It seems like there was a major mood shift, and I do not understand why. The common theme is shepherds.

The people are compared to lost sheep who have no shepherd. Those who should be their shepherds are corrupt, but God will become their shepherd. With God as their shepherd, the people of Israel and Judah will become mighty warriors and conquer their neighbors and grow numerous once again. As Israel and Judah are restored, Lebanon will be destroyed.

Then we have the shift. It is a shift in two ways. The style shifts from verse to prose and the tone shifts. In this part of the reading, the Zechariah seems to be implying that the leaders of the people of Israel and Judah are corrupt.
"Likewise, I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” says the Lord. “I will let them fall into each other’s hands and into the hands of their king. They will turn the land into a wilderness, and I will not rescue them.”
This is in decided contrast to the previous verses talking about restoration under God's leadership.

To illustrate this new attitude it seems that Zechariah chooses to take care of some sheep intended for slaughter with two symbolic staffs, Favor and Union. He becomes impatient with the sheep and destroys Favor. Then Zechariah asks for his wages (the reading makes it sound like he asks the sheep for his wages; I don't know whether or not that's intentional). They pay him 30 pieces of silver which he then gives to a potter in the temple. This confusing episode is part of what the New Testament alludes to when Judas disposes of the payment for his betrayal of Jesus. After this, Zechariah breaks the other staff, Union, and then goes once again and acts as a worthless shepherd.

Maybe this is meant to be a reenactment of the historical relationship between God and the people. As a commentary on the author's present, it makes no sense given the preceding context.

New Testament

Today's reading is a denouncement of fallen Babylon.

Psalms and Proverbs

Stirring up anger causes quarrels as inevitably as hitting someone in the nose causes bleeding or churning cream yields butter. Which is to say, it's highly probably but not guaranteed.