Short Shot: Zechariah 11 and the End of the Law of Moses
Don K. Preston
One of the most firmly held of Christian doctrines, taught by representatives of all three futurist views on eschatology, is that the Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross.” I once firmly held and taught this doctrine myself. Over the years, however, I learned that this doctrine has no actual Biblical support. It is based on a mis-reading of the Biblical texts, and then, the improper application of those mis-read passages to other passages. In addition, the view has to totally ignore a veritable plethora of other passages in order to sustain it.
(Colossians 2:14-16 is normally the “go to” text to prove that the Law was nailed to the cross. But, a host of Greek scholars reject that view of the text. Read Dr. Dallas Burette’s fine exegesis on Colossians here).
I have now written three books on the subject of the passing of the Law of Moses. In addition, I have engaged in numerous formal written debates on the subject. (You can read some of those debates on this website). In this brief article I want to investigate an important OT prophecy that has a direct bearing on the time and framework for the passing of the Law of Moses. The message of this text is so clear, so emphatic, that I fail to see how anyone could successfully refute it.
The text that I want to focus on is found in Zechariah 11:9-14.
Then I said, “I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, and what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other’s flesh.” And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples. So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter. Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
I must say before proceeding that it has long been a puzzlement to me why this passage is so commonly overlooked or ignored in discussions of when the Law of Moses came to an end. The text is very explicit in positing the time when the covenant between “both houses of Israel” would be broken, AND, when the Lord would end the covenant that He had with them. (Of course, it should go without saying that the only “bond” – other than blood – between both houses of Israel was Torah. Thus, since God said He was going to break that bond, this is just another way of saying that He was going to abolish the Old Law). This is undeniably NOT a reference to the cross, since it would be in the day when Jerusalem’s inhabitants would eat the flesh of their children. That took place in the awful siege of AD 66-70.
One thing that must be driven home is that what is being threatened here is patently a covenantal judgment in fulfillment of passages such as Leviticus 26:28 and Deuteronomy 28:53. (For a horrific historical account of how this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century siege of Jerusalem, see Josephus, Wars of the Jews, book VI).
And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.
Pay particular and careful attention to the fact that God very specifically posits the judgments to come on Israel– including siege, famine and cannibalism – directly as a result of their violation of the Law of Mose; “If you do not obey me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury.”
Now, it is axiomatic, and undeniable, that if a Law or Covenant has been annulled, abrogated, stricken from the books, that the penalties and provisions of that law / covenant cannot be applied. If a law is dead, then it is D-E-A-D. This is stated succinctly by Kyle Pope, a critic of Covenant Eschatology.: “That which is abolished, annulled, or put away is no longer in force” (Ken Pope, Thinking About AD 70, Athens, Al; Truth Publications, 2019), 57). Incredibly, even though he made this undeniably true comment, in his book, on the one hand he affirmed that the Law was nailed to the cross, but then, he claimed that we are still waiting for the fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the (imaginary) end of time! So, on the one hand, Pope has the Law passing away, on the other hand, he has the OT remaining valid until the end of time! To say this is contradictory is an understatement. I produced a 20 part video response to Pope’s book, you can begin watching that series here.
The reader needs to know that Pope’s statement is universally acknowledged. I have never heard or read anyone claim that a dead law can be applied when, and even though, it is dead. Period! This cannot be denied. So, whenever Zechariah 9 would be fulfilled, it had to be at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect. Remember that the text itself says that the covenant curses would be applied, but then, that covenant itself would come to an end.
So, what we have then is that in Zechariah 11, the prophet was warning Israel of the time that was coming, a time of apostasy and sin, when her sin would lead to the imposition of covenant curses which would lead to cannibalism.
This prophecy clearly proves therefore, that the Law of Moses was not “nailed to the cross.” Since the Jewish War of AD 66-70 was the fulfillment of God’s covenantal curses found in “the law” of Leviticus and Deuteronomy then undeniably, “the law” had to be in effect at that time. Again, you don’t apply the provisions of a dead covenant to events transpiring almost 40 years after it died.
“In that Day” the price of thirty pieces of silver would be measured out. In that day “that which is dying” would be allowed to die, when, “those that are left eat each other’s flesh” (11:9). It is undeniable, if we honor the NT application of the texts, that this prophecy spoke of the betrayal of Jesus and the consequent judgment on Jerusalem when, “those that are left eat each other’s flesh.” (In Matthew 27:9 we are told specifically that Zechariah was fulfilled in Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Thus, the chronological context of the fulfillment of Zechariah 9 is undeniably the first century– and specifically in AD 70.
Side Bar: Notice that “in that day” under consideration the Lord would break the covenant bond between both houses of Israel. (Needless to say, this prophecy is troublesome for the Dispensational view that claims the restoration of both houses of Israel under the Messiah!. Yet, Zechariah is a prophecy of the days of the Messiah, when the bond between the two houses would be broken)!
The inescapable conclusion is that the Law of Moses was NOT nailed to the cross, but remained in effect until the time of the judgment on Jerusalem which is when Jesus said “These be the days of vengeance when all things that are written must be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).
For more on the passing of the Law of Moses, be sure to get a copy of my book, The End of the Law, the Passing of the Law of Moses, Torah To Tells, Vol. 1.