The Cornerstone
The Tent Peg
The Battle Bow
Every Ruler

We noted in Zech 10:1-3 that I have only separated this verse (and the one following) from the main passage because I felt there was enough in it to warrant a totally different page. But, in reality, it sits in the middle of a passage which runs through to the end of the chapter.

The Lord has just proclaimed through Isaiah that He is angry both with the shepherds (leaders) of Israel and certain of the flock and He is now going to go on to outline what He has in store for the nation because of His great love for them. Though the leaders and individuals treated with contempt those under them, God treated them with respect and care and obligated Himself to do something about their predicament which necessitated a move against those people who stood opposed to His will and purpose.

Here, in verse 4, God outlines four specific things that He will draw out from the nation (the cornerstone, the tent peg, the battle bow and every taskmaster).

Notice, then, that God does not say that it is from the shepherds that He will bring these to pass, but out from His flock. His repeated ‘Out from them’ refers us back to the previous verse where He begins to speak of ‘His flock’ and the things that He’s already planning to achieve through them. It is the common, ordinary people who must be looked to to see God’s work, not those who are in positions over the people who like to think that they are in some sort of special position before God so that He is obliged to use them.

Here is a call for all Church leadership not to pull themselves away from the flock. If God chooses to use those of the sheep for His own purposes, then it is vitally necessary that they remain a part of them and not so highly regard themselves as to form some sort of elite hierarchy over and above His people. In Truth, God uses the people, not the leaders - when leaders become more important than the people they are over, God will often by-pass them and use the believers who sit ‘under’ them, much to the leaders’ annoyance and fury. But, if leadership is only there to guide rather than control the people, it will continue to be used for it remains a part of the people and not a distinct entity apart from it.

All these four characteristics of the Lord’s work are indicative of the Messiah and it needs to be noted that the prophecy can only fully be interpreted in this light. Yes, all apply to the nation to which it was originally given but when we consider that God is saying that out of them shall come forth such perfection, it can only truly be fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Scripture doesn’t say that

‘Out of them shall come the cornerstones

denoting a multitude but refers to the product in the singular, denoting one. Therefore, the verse must naturally refer us to the Messiah even though, in the context of the nation to whom it was given, these four characteristics were God’s intention for them and especially as examples to the nations who dwelt round about them. For example, if the nation becomes the cornerstone, what can be built upon them apart from other peoples? Or if they become the tent peg, what is to be hung upon them that won’t affect world civilisations? In every way, the fulfilment of this word must relate by consequence in some shape or form to those who, at that time, were not called the Lord’s people.

As these verses are indicative, therefore, of Messiah (and this is how I shall interpret them below), it must be noted that the prophecy, taken as a whole, showed the Israelites that God’s anointed King would have humble beginnings (but a glorious end!) - that He would not arise from the leadership of Israel which was corrupt, but from the ordinary, everyday people who lived under their control and dominance. This is, of course, exactly how and when Jesus appeared within the nation and it is a measure of the truth of the prophecy that the Jewish leadership conspired against Him to kill Him when He appeared on the scene (though that should not lead us into any cause for anti-Semitism).

Even though the Jewish Targum (a commentary on the Scriptures) applied this verse to the Messiah, they failed to see in Jesus the perfect fulfilment of this lowliness from which springs the fulfilment and, if they had understood it correctly in context, they would have realised that Israelite leadership would oppose the fulfilment in the person of Christ because it would be corrupt and the subject of God’s anger (Zech 10:3).

It has often been the case that God has exalted the nobodies to be the leaders in the revivals that are scattered throughout Church History and we would do well to heed the warning that a leadership that has grown apart from the people of God will not be used by Him to bring in the next move of God.

The Cornerstone
Strongs Hebrew number 6438

The main problem with the Hebrew word used here is that, at times, it can be used to refer to the crowning stone, the capstone of a building (Ps 118:22) and, at others, it refers to the foundation stone at the corner of a building upon which everything else depends (Is 28:16). Therefore, the context needs to be determined in each and every case before a suggestion as to the correct translation can be offered.

But, in the context of Zech 10:4, either interpretation makes perfectly good sense. Jesus is both the crowning glory of all that God has been building (I Peter 2:7) and also the foundation of all that God is building (I Peter 2:6).

Jesus is God’s supreme achievement that is both the basis upon which He deals with mankind and also the crown that completes His achievement. Therefore, Jesus is rightly described as both the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13), the One who starts everything and who will also end it, the One who is both rooted in everything that God plans to do in time and space and the One who is the conclusion of every work.

And it is from God’s people, not the leadership (as previously mentioned) that God’s ‘cornerstone’ will come.

The Tent Peg
Strongs Hebrew number 3489

This word can refer to a wall peg upon which all kinds of items can be hung. In Is 22:23-25, it is the peg upon which everything that is important is upheld and depends upon. In Ezra 9:8 it is said that God has shown the Israelites favour in that He has given them a ‘nail’ within His Holy Place - meaning that they have a secure hold upon the inheritance.

The nail, then, denoted immovability and security, the peg upon which all things depend for their existence. Jesus, the sustainer of the universe by the word of His power (Heb 1:3), upon whom everything depends for its existence (John 1:3), is God’s tent peg, His ‘nail’, who is firmly established forever at the right hand of the Father.

And, again, it is from God’s people, not His leaders, that the tent peg will come.

The Battle Bow
Strongs Hebrew number 4421 and 7198

The Battle Bow is an instrument of war and can be used figuratively of war in general as it is in, for instance, Zech 9:10, where it is said that the bow shall be cut off from the nation of Israel in order that universal peace might be brought in when the King comes to them and is accepted. There, though, the thought was of a future time still to come but here, as noted previously, the prophecy has specific relevance for a time to come which precedes the one which will establish universal peace (this does not appear to have been God’s original intention but that the occurrence of both events would have taken place together. It is only in the rejection by the Jews of their long awaited King that divided up the fulfilment of this prophecy to two separate events).

In every way, the name of the Lord is the Church’s instrument of war, whether offensive or defensive. In Jesus’ name the Church defeats sickness (Acts 3:6, Mk 16:17); In His name they defeat satanic spirits (Acts 16:18, Mk 16:18); In Him, believers have victory over the old nature (Col 2:11); In Him they have victory over sin (Col 2:13-14); In His name they will, ultimately, have victory over death (I Cor 15:57).

In each and every way, Jesus is the One who is the Church’s weapon of offence. It is He who has already overcome each and every obstacle to a person’s relationship with God and the enforcement of His will on the earth.

Every Ruler
Strongs Hebrew number 5065

The root word, according to Moody

‘...connotes the exertion of demanding oppressive pressure for payment or labour’

and therefore is used in situations where oppression is intended to be conveyed. Nearly always the word is used in a negative sense denoting oppression.

For instance, the word is used of the taskmasters who were over the Israelites in Egypt and who enforced the tyranny of Pharaoh (Ex 3:7, 5:6, 10, 13, 14). It is used in Isaiah eight times (3:5, 3:12, 9:4, 14:2, 14:4, 53:7, 58:3, 60:17), each time being translated oppressor/oppress (as in Zech 9:8) except in the final listed occurrence where the RSV translates it as ‘taskmasters’ (which is also the word used to convey the meaning in Job 3:18).

The word can also be used to convey the oppressive collection of either money or taxes. This is the meaning in II Kings 23:35 where it’s written that Jehoiakim taxed the land in order to pay tribute to Pharaoh and also in Dan 11:20. In Deut 15:2-3, the Israelites are commanded not to exact the money they have lent to their brethren on the year of release, the seventh year. Such a collection would destroy the command of freedom that was to be the Israelites’ experience.

Again, because of the Philistines (I Sam 13:6) and of Saul’s oath (I Sam 14:24), the Israelites are twice said to be in distress because of their plight.

Although only the context can determine whether the word is to be taken positively or negatively, the RSV’s ‘ruler’ in Zech 10:4 appears wholly inaccurate as the meaning is plainly ‘taskmaster’ unless the context favours otherwise.

It is the people (the flock) who have had the experience of what can be borne and it is they who shall be the ones out of whom the taskmasters shall come. Then it shall be true, as the prophet Isaiah said (Is 60:17)

‘I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteousness’

The leaders oppress those under them, but the leader who comes from a place of service shall be the One God exalts to rule over His brethren.

Jesus, the righteous Taskmaster, is exalted far over all (Phil 2:9) through His lowly service (Phil 2:8). It is only He who rightfully can assign tasks to His people, knowing as He does (from first hand experience), what man can and cannot both achieve and bear (Mtw 11:29-30).

Any taskmaster set over the people of God, should be one who has had the experience of being under taskmasters so that he is able to have insight into what pressures and strains he may be placing upon those set under him. Leadership that has never experienced servitude are normally insufficient to operate as taskmasters within the Kingdom.

NB - The literal translation of this last clause runs
‘...from them will come every ruler together’
the final word being moved into verse 5 by most modern translations but it really belongs in verse 4. The sense, then, is that all rule and oversight will be brought together in Messiah.