Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the people of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle. From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler. Together they will be like warriors in battle trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets. They will fight because the Lord is with them, and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame. – Zechariah 10:1-5
After yesterday’s slack water this is a refreshing dip into some rich water imagery about rain and thunderstorms. God is comparing and contrasting Himself with the idols that the people were apparently replacing Him in the people’s hearts. There are plenty of idols in our culture today that are vying for our attention and affection so this seems like a relevant passage.
The passage starts out with a simple yet profound direction, “Ask the Lord”. This is so simple in words and so hard in practice. It seems we are ready ask everyone and everything before we are willing to “resort” to asking God for help and for what we need. I think this stems from a lack of faith in God, but also a lack of faith in ourselves to accurately hear what God is telling us to do.
God is instructing the people to ask for “rain in the springtime”. God knows that without rain plants will not thrive and flourish. But He also does not withhold the fact that if one asks for rain it is possible to experience thunderstorms which can even be dangerous and scary. The answer to this philosophical conundrum comes in the next sentence when God says “He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone”. This seems to be saying that what may look like a terrible crashing wave of calamity may in fact be part of the “spiritual cycle” which is necessary for God to accomplish His plan for our lives and the lives of others. It is also reassuring that God is promising to give His Living Water to “everyone”, no ancestry or entry fee required.
Idols in contrast “speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain.” God is pretty clear that we will experience difficult roads as we seek to follow Him Faithfully. He is not deceiving us about the challenges we will face, but He wants us to turn to Him, climb on His shoulders and be carried like a son or daughter. So part of an intimate relationship with the Living God seems to be acknowledging that we will experience both barriers and blessings. It is how we respond to these inevitable ups and downs that interests God most.
If we seek wisdom from idols we will “wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd”. It is interesting that the sheep will be “oppressed” in their wandering. It seems like idols and earthly leaders often promise freedom and release from what appear to be the “chains” of religion or dogma when in fact they result in oppression and aimless wandering. Allowing ourselves to be led by the Shepherd is the answer. This sort of following involves an intimate indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God is angry with the “shepherds” that are leading the people, they are failing the “Meribah Test.” He promises to come and be the Shepherd of the people instead, “the Lord Almighty will care for his flock.” God accomplished this in the person of Jesus. The ultimate Shepherd who cares for His flock even now through the Holy Spirit and the community of followers of Way of Jesus.
Prayer: God you are the Shepherd we are to look to for rain and all that we need. Help us to ask for more of You and less from the idols in our lives.