11 But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. 12 Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. 13 Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. 14 “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.”
This section deals with the pre-exilic generation’s attitude toward the prophets; it was one of stiff opposition to what God had to say through His messengers. It is a warning to Zechariah’s time about the attitudes and actions towards God’s spokesmen.
But they [Israel’s pre-exilic leaders] refused to heed,
Pre-exilic Israel stubbornly refused to listen to or obey the prophets (Jer 8:4-17).
shrugged their shoulders,
Shrugging shoulders was the description of rejection of an idea. They turned their backs on God and His Word in rebellion (Neh 9:29; Ezek 3:8-9).
and stopped their ears so that they could not hear.
Israel plugged their ears in opposition and recalcitrance to what God said (Isa 6:10; Je 7:26; Ac 7:57). They would not let God’s Word get to the point of even hearing it.
Yes, they made their hearts like flint [hard like a stone],
The “flint” represents something extremely hard. Israel’s heart was very hard against the message of God, which even carries the idea of defiant rejection (Ex 8:15; Pr 28:14). They were in a state of spiritual intransigence.
refusing to hear the law [Torah] and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.
There are two main divisions of the Old Testament: the law and the prophets. These words put the prophets and their writings on par with Moses’ law. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets’ writings; these writings were not the mere dead words of man alone.
Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.
Israel faced great judgment from the LORD for their defiant rejection of His messengers. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and carried Judah into captivity. They were religious but in an empty manner.
Therefore it happened,
The desolation before the post-exilic people of Zechariah’s day was due to the intransigence of the pre-exilic generation.
that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear,
God had revealed His message through His prophets, but Israel would not listen. Israel’s became more and more hardened to God’s will so that they would not listen to His messengers anymore (Jer 7:26).
so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts.
Israel called out after they experienced God’s wrath, but God would not answer their prayers (Jer 11:11; Pr 1:24-28; Is 6:10). Their prayers were powerless. God turned a deaf ear to them. Since they acted autonomously from God, He left them to depend upon themselves.
“But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known.
The scattering here has to do with putting Israel into exile (Deut 28:45-52; Pr 1:27; Isa 40:24; Hos 4:19). “Nations which they had not known” are foreign nations. God first sent the northern kingdom to Assyria in 722 BC and the southern kingdom to Babylon in 586 BC (Ez 4:2).
Thus the land became desolate after them,
The promised land became desolate after Israel’s expulsion from the Promised Land (Jer 7:34; Ezek 12:19).
so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.”
The “pleasant land” is the Promised Land, the land of Israel’s desire (Jer 3:19). After the exile, God’s land remained vacant.
He who does not remember the past is condemned to relive it.
There is a pain in spurning God’s Word. If we do not remember what God has to say to us, we will pay the consequences. There are Christians who confess the same sin over and over. There is something beyond confession; it is the inculcation of God’s Word into one’s mind and the application of it in experience.