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A great leader, Abraham Lincoln September 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Zechariah 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 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 lesson we will see what good leadership and bad leadership look like.

At this time in Jewish history, by God’s sovereign grace, 49,000 Israelites had returned from exile in Babylon to their own ravaged land. They rebuilt the temple of the LORD, which had been destroyed by Babylon 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 had stopped. God was not pleased! He gave messages to the prophets Zechariah and Haggai, telling the people to repent, return to God, rise up, and rebuild.

God gave Zechariah dreams and visions with interpretations. He shared them with the Israelites as signs and symbols that God had a future for them. This encouraged them to rebuild under the leadership of the 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 not.

Zechariah 9-11 comprises one oracle and Zechariah 12-14 comprises a second and final oracle to Israel. In these oracles Zechariah speaks of judgment and blessing.

Chapters 9-11 speak of God as a shepherd (chief shepherd) keeping watch over his under shepherds, the leaders of nations and the leaders of Israel. He would 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) and he would punish Israel for bad leadership (Malachi and Zechariah 10:2-3). Because of these things God would remove his favor from Israel and the surrounding nations (Zechariah 11:10; 11:8b,14). Under the leadership of Alexander the Great, the Greeks would conquer the whole known world, including the powerful kingdom of Persia. After his untimely death, Jerusalem would once again be devastated by wars between his succeeding generals. Antiochus Epiphanies IV was a Grecian general and a madman. It was prophesied that he would express his rage against the Jews and desecrate their temple. The Jews revolted against him in the Maccabean conflict (Zechariah 9:13). Afterwards, with an iron fist of power, Rome would crush all the nations and become the sole leader of the known world. Then, because of God’s great compassion, Zechariah prophesied that the LORD would send his own shepherd, whom he called 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 became like a gentle shepherd king as he ministered on the earth. He shepherded 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.

On what we now remember as Palm Sunday, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, like a peaceful king, to the praises of his Jewish people. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the religious leaders had him arrested. He was 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 crucified. Jesus arose from the dead three days later to give the hope of forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who wants to receive it (more...). However, he did not take his kingship at that time. Instead, he returned to his father in heaven and told us to be witnesses of his grace and forgiveness (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) was destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Jews were scattered or tortured to death. It was 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 (leaders) are we? How do we lead others under our charge? 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.

Chapters 12-14 speak of God shepherding Israel for her good. God offered hope for Israel. Though 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 (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 when she sees Christ return, but she will receive national forgiveness and cleansing of her sins (Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1). All idolatry will be done away with, and 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 speak words of criticism and judgment but also 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, rebukes and punishment when necessary, forgiveness, and inspirational hope.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Zechariah 10:3 “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.” (NIV)

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

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