Sheep are the people who need leading, protection, and care. They are the employees, the children, the citizens.
Shepherds are those charged with that job.
If you have ever read Stephen King's "The Talisman", you will know that the werewolves in the golden country are shepherds; they are charged with never eating from the herd. That is a valuable point to remember.
This describes a political situation in which eating from the herd by second derivative [sell it to your neighbor, buy his, and both eat] is considered normal.
I think that things have been like that in America for a while. Look at Enron, look at our politicians. Yet, the point of this is that the sheep get the shepherd they deserve. If we have enron, if we have politicians who feast on us through the means of taxation and pork, it is ultimately our own fault.
So what happens? First the breaking of the staff "grace". No more good relations between a man and his neighbor, no more economic good will.
The second is the breaking of the staff "union". When everybody is betraying his neighbor for his own gain, how can the states themselves hold together? How can treaties between countries hold?
Although the specifics applied back in that day, I think the generalities apply today. When you get the general conditions described, you get the general results described.
Prophecy, ultimately, is the ability to see extra clearly, and the willingness to say what you see. This prophecy, like most of those in the Bible, does not apply in specific except to the specific case it faced -- but because the nature of man is relatively constant, similar situations do come up.
I think that the situation of America is quite similar to the one in Zechariah 11.
I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
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