The last few verses of chapter 12 showed us the sadness and repentance of God’s people over “piercing Him.” This brought His people grace. As chapter 13 opens, we see the continuation of the effects of that repentance as we move from grace into forgiveness and then justification.
Zechariah 13:1 – “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
This chapter opens as learn that what God is about to do is both for the royal line of the house of David and for the general inhabitant of Jerusalem.
The fountain that the prophet talks about here is something that we see throughout all of Scripture. Ezekiel 36:25 comes to mind. God tells His people that He will “sprinkle them clean” from their sin.
It starts by telling us “On that day….” The day that the prophet is speaking of is the day, as we saw before, that God’s people are reborn.
Zechariah 13:2 – “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.
This is a literal verse. God will remove the idols and unclean spirits from the land. Idolatry was always something that led Israel astray. But now God will completely cut out the idols.
Zechariah 13:3 – And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.
Imagine being a preacher in the final days and misrepresenting the truth. The truth of God will be even more significant than the bond of parents with their children. It will be so important to represent the truth of God that if someone prophesies falsely, their own parents will pierce their side.
Zechariah 13:4 – “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive,
These prophets will be so fearful that they will not dress as a prophet. In the Old Testament, the prophets were typically dressed in a certain way. The way a prophet dressed was an outward symbol of what the prophet was choosing to live. They chose to live a life that abstained from worldly pleasures and to grieve for God’s people.
But this verse shows that those who prophecy will be scared of the ridicule of man. First, in the verse before, a false prophet would be killed by his family. Second, those who falsely prophecy for their own gain would become ashamed of their craft.
Zechariah 13:5 – but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’
The false prophet, ashamed, will say he is not a prophet but a farm hand.
Zechariah 13:6 – And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’
False prophets in Zechariah’s day would injure themselves for their pagan rites. Check out Leviticus 19:28, Deuteronomy 14:1, 1 Kings 18 or Jeremiah 16 and 48. In Ahab’s court, for example, there were false prophets who would prophesy in the name of God. Those same priests, however, would also cut themselves with knives as they worshiped the Baals.
The false prophets would try to explain away their injuries by saying they received them at their friends’ places.
Zechariah 13:7 – “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.
The sword is a symbol of judgment. In Romans 13:4, for example, it is a power that God gives to human judges and government.
This verse goes on with much more intriguing symbolism, though. The shepherd that is “standing next to me” is the Good Shepherd. This is the death that was part of God’s design to save humanity. This fits with Isaiah 53:10 in which Zechariah agrees with Isaiah that God ordained Christ’s suffering.
In Matthew 26:31, Jesus quoted this verse when He referenced the scattering of His disciples after His arrest and punishment.
Zechariah 13:8 – In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.
Only part of God’s people will remain faithful to God until the end. These will be the ones that will be the remnant of the sheep and goats. Unfortunately this tells us that 2/3 of the world will turn away from God and only a third will be faithful.
Zechariah 13:9 – And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
The third that remains faithful will be tested and go through tribulation. Through the tribulation the relationship will be solidified. Throughout all history, the covenant relationship between God and His people has been challenged, but God has always remained faithful to bring His people back to Him.