Do you believe that following Jesus will make you successful? Does God promise to bless His followers with abundant riches? These ideas are central to what is commonly called the “prosperity gospel.” Leaders within this popular movement are known for their lavish lifestyles, promising health and wealth to all who follow. But if the prophet Zechariah was alive today, he would call them out as false. This is far from what the Bible actually teaches.
Scripture has nothing but harsh words for false teachers and false prophets. In today’s reading, God ordered His prophet Zechariah to shepherd a “flock marked for slaughter” (vv. 4–6). Their previous shepherds had oppressed and exploited them, using their power to benefit themselves and shamelessly calling it God’s blessing: “Praise the Lord, I am rich!” (v. 5).
Zechariah focused especially on the oppressed or the faithful remnant (vv. 7–14). For his shepherding, he used two staffs—Favor, meaning God’s favor or covenant faithfulness, and Union, meaning seeing the divided kingdom as a reunited entity (referring to Ezekiel 37:15–28). He got rid of three bad shepherds (identity uncertain), but things did not go well after that. The people resisted, and both staffs were broken, meaning that God decided to allow Israel and Judah to be conquered. The “severance pay” was an insulting 30 pieces of silver. Matthew saw these verses fulfilled in Judas’ betrayal and the nation’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah (Matt. 27:3–10). The passage closes with a prophecy about one more false shepherd (perhaps the Antichrist) who will be the worst of all, but who in the end will be struck down (vv. 15–17).
>> Right doctrine is always important. Are you aware of the prosperity gospel and other false teachings that are popular in our day? Do some research or speak to a leader at your church about this topic so you can learn to discern truth from lies.