Ruthless Thievery

“What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind.”— Zechariah 11:17 (NLT)

Steal. Kill. Destroy. Think about these famous words found in John 10:10 for a second. They’re strong, they evoke strong emotions, and they signify things we don’t want done to us—words that should set off formidable self-preservation defense mechanisms within us. No one wants to have anything stolen from them, no one wants to be killed, and no one wants to be destroyed. But this is exactly what the thief comes to do.

That last word in particular—destroy—is quite intense, isn’t it? According to the Strong’s Concordance, destroy (apolesē) implies “permanent (absolute) destruction, to cancel out (remove) . . . cause to be lost (utterly perish) by experiencing a miserable end.” But who would do such a thing? Who is the thief?  

In John 10, Jesus tells us it’s false teachers—in this case, He’s talking about the Pharisees. They come to corrupt the sheep, to steal the sheep’s joy and freedom (Acts 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 26; Galatians 1:6, 2:4, 4:3, 5:1, 12), to kill the sheep’s faith, and to destroy the sheep’s relationship with the Good Shepherd. 

But look at what Zechariah says about these false teachers, these men and women who distort the gospel for whatever reason: “The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye.”

You see, these false teachers should be shepherds. They often have great knowledge of the things of God, but they distort it for their own gain, or even to cover up their own wickedness.

The Pharisees should have been ambassadors for the Lord. They, with all their knowledge of Scripture, should have drawn people closer to God. Instead, they drove people away from Him. And like the Pharisees, the Judaizers should have known better. They knew about grace through faith, yet they added circumcision to it, and all things Judaism as requirements for salvation.

Today, we have thieves in our midst, just like in Zechariah’s, Jesus’, and Paul’s day. We have false teachers, robbers, pushers of legalism, and even hateful people who use the name of Christ to destroy everyone in their wake. Stay as far away from these people as possible, and beware of their snare, because sometimes their words sound so appealing they have a way of drawing people in. 

Listen to the Spirit, search the Scriptures. Do the things they say that match what Jesus said? Do they match the lives and ministry of the apostles? If not, then you must be wary to not fall prey, because the destruction they leave behind is always massive.

DIG: Read the Book of Galatians—it’s only six chapters. Consider Paul’s admonitions and instructions to the Galatians who fell prey to false teachers.

DISCOVER: Have you ever found yourself listening to a false teacher? How did you finally realize it? What signs were there? What did the Spirit reveal to you?

DISPLAY: Pray the Lord cleanses His flock of false teachers; that they’re exposed and that believers—and nonbelievers especially—would stay far away from their trappings and not be caught in the destruction.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.